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Old Time Notes 
of Pennsylvania 

A Connected and Chronological Record of the 
Commercial, Industrial and Educational Ad- 
vancement of Pennsylvania, and the Inner 
History of all Political Movements since the 
adoption of the Constitution of 1838 





A. K' McClure, LL.D. 

Illustrated with Portraits of over one hundred 
distinguished men of Pennsylvania, including 
all the Governors, Senators, Judges of the 
Courts of to-day, leading Statesmen, Railroad 
Presidents, Business Men and others of note. 


Library Edition 





CopvmaNT 1905, 









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ENNSYLVANIA has ever been in the forefront of her 
sister States in field and forum, and in industrial and 
educational advancement; but while every era of prog- 
ress is portrayed in our literature, it is fragmentary and so 
widely scattered in the records of Pennsylvania achievement 
that it is an appalling task for any student of to-day to undertake 
the mastery of the varied movements which have culminated 
in making our Commonwealth foremost in progressive develop- 
ment. Our people to-day look at their great empire, by cour- 
tesy called a State, and see the grandest railway system of the 
world created by our authority and energetic people, with 
another great railway system that introduced anthracite coal 
to the homes and shops of the city, that is now one of the great 
railway organizations of the country, and tributary railways 
extending into every center of industry to develop the wondrous 
wealth of the State. They see the most advanced and liberal 
educational system of the world maintained by their Common- 
wealth, offering free education to the humblest child of every 
community. They see great corporate interests reaching into 
every channel of industrial development adding millions upon 
millions to the wealth of the people, but only a very few have 
any conception of the long, earnest and often desperate strug- 
gles made by brave, progressive men in early years to remove 
the barriers of ignorance and prejudice which steadily and 
vindictively resisted every effort for educational and industrial 

^ (V) 


vi Introduction 

The author of these chapters has had more than a half century 
of experience in political struggles of the State, in which were 
involved every phase of commercial, industrial and educational 
advancement, and his personal acquaintance ^^^th the leading 
political factors whose public service was rendered before his 
participation in political affairs enables him to present, in con- 
nected chronological order, the commercial, industrial and 
educational advancement since the adoption of the amended 
Constitution of 1838, and to give also, not only the story of 
the political struggles which advanced or retarded the advance- 
ment of the Commonwealth, but the inner history of the political 
movements of the times and the desperate conflicts created by 
the interests of individual ambition and often conflicting indus- 
trial, educational and commercial policies. This period covers 
the heroic decade of Pennsylvania and of the Nation, when Civil 
War called for countless sacrifices of life and treasure to maintain 
the tmity of the Republic, and in that struggle Pennsylvania, 
although second in population, furnished more soldiers to the 
war than any other State of the Union, suffered in war's spolia- 
tion, and on her hills at Gettysburg was fought the decisive 
battle between the blue and the gray that proclaimed to the 
world that ** government of the people, by the people and for 
the people shall not perish from the earth." 

The author was, for nearly half a century, actively engaged , 
in the political struggles of the day, and aroused the full measure 
of antagonism that aggressive men ever must expect. He is 
thtis called upon in these chapters to write much of men with 
whom he was not in political accord, and with some of whom 
he was in aggressive, factional or partisan hostility. This 
experience enables him to present the inner history of political 
movements which are not to be found in the ordinary political 

Introduction ^^ 

annals, and having outlived the often embittered asperities of 
the past, and when most of his contempories, friend and foe, 
have crossed the dark river, he has been studiously careful to 
suppress every vestige of resentment, and to give generous 
justice to those with whom he was in conflict in the long ago. 

The aim of these chapters is to present to the people of Penn- 
sylvania, who are so justly proud of their great Commonwealth, 
a connected chronological story of the advancement of our great 
State since the adoption of the reform Constitution in 1838, 
presenting with absolute candor the many and earnest struggles 
made for advancement beginning more than half a century 
ago, and portraying the leading actors as they rose and fell in 
political conflicts, with their capabilities and methods, giving 
to the student of to-day in a single publication the inner history 
of Pennsylvania politics, and the desperate battles fought for 
the advancement that makes our grand Commonwealth to-day 
the richest and most progressive of all the States of the Union. 

In several works previously issued by the author, some of the 
incidents presented in this work have been given to the public, 
but their omission in these chapters, which present a complete 
and chronological record of political and other important events, 
would leave it imperfect. 

The Gk)vemors of the State chosen under the several constitu- 
tions are given in portraits by groups, the first presenting 
Governors Mifflin, McKean, Snyder, Findley, Heister, Schulze, 
Wolf and Ritner, chosen under the Constitution of 1790. The 
second presents Governors Porter, Shtmk, Johnston, Bigler, 
Pollock, Packer, Curtin, Geary and Hartranft, elected under 
the Constitution of 1838, and the last gives Governors Ho3rt, 
Pattison, Beaver, Hastings, Stone and Pennypacker, chosen 
under the Constitution of 1874, 


viii Introduction 

Pennsylvania had varied methods of government prior to the 
establishment of the Constitution of 1790. The Dutch rule 
began with 1609 and continued imtil 1638; the Dutch and 
Swedish rule prevailed from 1638 to 1655, and the Dutch rule 
again became omnipotent and lasted until 1664. '^he chief 
executive was then known as Vice Director, and many changes 
were made. The conflict between the EngUsh and Dutch led 
to the establishment of the English rule from 1664 to 1673, 
when the Dutch Deputy Governor re-established the rule of his 
race, and the English regained their rule in 1674 and continued 
it until 1 68 1, when the proprietory government under Penn was 
established. It continued under various Deputy Governors, 
including several of the Penn family, until 1777, when the 
Supreme Executive Council was organized with Thomas Whar- 
ton, Jr., as President, who was succeeded by George Bryan in 
1778, and he in turn was succeeded by Joseph Reed at the close 
of the same year, who was succeeded by John Dickinson in 1782, 
and Benjamin Franklin succeeded Dickinson in 1785, and 
served until the adoption of the Constitution of 1790. 

These chapters tell of the creation and death of the Anti- 
Masonic party, of the Whig party, and of the American party, 
all of which were important political factors in our Common- 
wealth, and they present the interesting story of the origin and 
strange development of the Republican party that has practically 
ruled the cotmtry for nearly half a century. It is known to all 
of ordinary intelligence that these parties existed, but the causes 
which led to their creation, and the struggles and victories and 
defeats of each, form interesting chapters in the annals of the 

The author has been scrupulously careful to present the poUt- 
ical movements herein recorded with entire accuracy, and with 





absolute freedom from partisan prejudice, and in discussing 
public men who have risen and played important parts for more 
than half a century, the aim has been to err on the side of gener- 
ous or charitable judgment. The work is presented to the public 
in the expectation that it will meet an important want, telling 
the people of our great Commonwealth the story of its leading 
actors, and how the overshadowing grandeur of Pennsylvania 

advancement has been achieved. 

A. K. M. 




I. — Old Time Political and Social 


Not a Steamship on the Seas, Nor a Locomotive Drawing Can 
when the Writer was Bom — ^The Battle for Free Schools— 
The Brave Dutch Governor Wolf Defeated for Approving the 
Measure — ^The Beautiful Neighborly Qualities — Partisan In- 
tolerance Greater Then than Now, and Political Frauds often 
Boldly Practised — Our Improved Civilisation 


II. — Governors Ritner and Porter. 

Two Ex-Governors Who Survived Their Official Terms Nearly a 
Quarter of a Century — The Two Most Desperately Defamed 
Men of Our Political History — The Porter-Ritner Campaign of 
1835 — The Most Malignant and Desperate of All Our Great 
Contests — The Personal Qualities of Two Ex-Governors — 
Whittier Embalmed Ritner in Poetry for His Anti-Slavery 
Views — Porter Rescued the State from Repudiation 


III. — ^JoHN Bannister Gibson. 

Pennsylvania's Greatest Jurist — The One Error of the Great 
Jurist's Life — His Name a Household Word in the Rural 
Conmiunity Where He was Bom — His Only Attempt at Poetry 
— Elected to the Supreme Bench in i85i» and Vacated Chief 
Justiceship to Black, and Died before it Reached Him again . . 


IV. — ^The Buckshot War. 

A Disgraceful Chapter in the Annals of Pennsylvania — ^Fraudulent 
Election in Philadelphia County was the Primary Cause— 
Two Delegations Retiuned as Elected to the House— Two 
Speakers Elected — ^The Militia Ordered to Harrisburg to Pre- 
serve Order — Penrose, Stevens and Burrowes Escaped from the 


xii Contents 


Senate Through a Window — Problem Solved by Anti-Masonic 
Senator John Strohm Voting to Recognize the Hopkins De- 
mocratic House 47 

V. — Rescued From Repudiation. 

Pennsylvania with $40,000,000 of Debt was Unable to Pay Inter- 
est in 1 84 1 — Loans Were Authorized but Not Taken — For 
Months the Cloud of Repudiation Hung Over Our Great State 
— Porter Rescued It by a Forced Loan from the Banks Author- 
izing Them to Issue the $3,000,000 Needed by the State in Relief 
Notes — The State Credit was Saved by the Courage and Ability 
of Porter 57 

VI. — Advent of the Whig Party. 

Federalism and Anti-Masonry Having Perished, the Whig Party 
Had Its Birth in 1834 — Senator James L. Gillis of Ridgway 
Tried for the Murder of Morgan — First Whig National Con- 
vention Held at Harrisburg in 1839 — The Harrison Hard 
Cider and Log Cabin Contest — The First National Conven- 
tion Ever Held Was by the Anti-Masons in 1830 — The First 
Whig Triumph in 1840 66 

VII. — ^AsA Packer and David Thomas. 

Thomas, a Welsh Miner, Settled in the Lehigh Region and the First 
Man to Manufacture Anthracite Iron — His Great Lead in the 
Iron Development of Pennsylvania — Known and Revered as 
'* Pap " Thomas until he Died at the Age of Eighty-eight — 
Packer Developed the Transportation System of the Lehigh 
Valley — A Journeyman Carpenter, he Became the most Suc- 
cessful and Richest of our Railway Presidents in his Day — 
Packer's Gubernatorial Contest of 1869 — His Defeat by a 
Small Majority, and by his Friends it was Charged to Fraud. . 75 

VIII. — The Polk-Clay Contest of 1844. 

Democrats Rejected Van Buren After a Long Struggle — Nominated 
the First Dark Horse for the Presidency in James K. Polk — 
Clay Nominated Unanimously by a Convention and Party That 
Idolized Him — Pennsylvania Was the Pivotal State — The 

Contents xiii 


Death of Muhlenberg, the Democratic Candidate for Governor, 
United the Democratic Pactions on Shtink and Defeated 
Markle, the Whig Candidate, by a Small Majority — ^The Birth 
of the Native American Movements — Lewis C. Levin and His 
Career 84 

IX. — Cameron Elected Senator. 

Buchanan Appointed Secretary of State in 1845 ^^^ Cameron 
Elected to Succeed Him for Four Years in the Senate — By a 
Combination of Protection or Cameron Democrats with the 
Whigs Cameron Defeated Woodward, the Democratic Can- 
didate — Cameron's Ability as a Political Strategist— Cameron 
as a Democratic Senator — A Thorn in the Side of the 
Buchanan Administration — He Rejects Judge Woodward for 
Judge of the Supreme Cotut 9a 

X. — George M. Dallas. 

Nominated for Vice-President with Polk in 1844 after Senator 
Silas Wright Had Been Nominated and Declined — Had No 
Knowledge of the Honor Until a Delegation from the Balti- 
more Convention Made Him a Midnight Visit — His Casting 
Vote in Favor of the Tariff of 1846 — Thrice a Candidate for 
President Against Buchanan — Bitter Factional Feuds Between 
Buchanan and Dallas — Many Pennsylvania Presidential Can- 
didates xoz 

XI. — ^An Elective Judiciary. 

The Causes for the Agitation of Making Judges Elective — ^Judicial 
Hostility to the Reform Constitution of 1838 an Important 
Factor — The Protracted Struggle Between Governor Shunk 
and the Whig Senate over a Judge for White's Indiana District 
Aroused very General Hostility to Executive Appointments — 
Several Noniiinations Rejected, and after Shunk*s Re-election 
the Whig Senate Dictated the Appointment of John C. Knox 
and ConErmed it — The Earnest Battle in the Legislature to 
Defeat an Elective Judiciary — The People Appreciated the 
Trust and Have Presented a Generally Creditable Record in 
Judicial Elections iii 

xiv Contents 

XII. — Advent of the Locomotive. 


The Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad Ran by Horse-power until 
1834 — ^The First Train Drawn by the Locomotive "Black 
Hawk** — The Trip From Lancaster to Philadelphia Made in 
Eight Hours and a Half — Protest of the Conestoga Teamsters 
and Wagon Taverns against Steam Railways — Building the 
Cumberland Valley Railroad — Shinplasters Issued to Financier 
It — The First Pennsylvania Railroad Charter Prepared and 
Presented by a Lobbyist Without the Knowledge of the Phila- 
delphians — Desperate Struggle Between the Baltimore and 
Ohio and the Pennsylvania Companies — Both Obtained 
Charters, but the Baltimore and Ohio Franchise had Severe 
Conditions which Made it Unacceptable, and the Pennsylvania 
was Given the Field in 1847 — Senator Gibbons' Battle with 
His Constituents, and the Controversy with Judge Conrad . . lai 

XIII. — ^The Pennsylvania Railroad 


The Baltimore and Ohio having been Forced from the Field by 
Conditions of its Franchise, the Pennsylvania Railroad had the 
Exclusive Right to Cross the State Westward with a Rail- 
road Line — Had $1,000,000 in its Treasury July 30, 1847 — 
Interesting Meeting between Chief Engineer Thompson and 
Chairman of the Canal Board, James Bums — The Work of 
Construction Begun at Meadow Lane, Harrisburg, July 7, 1847 
— The First Train in the Juniata Valley — Struggle for the 
Presidency between Patterson and Thompson — Why Thomp- 
son was Successful — A Prohibitory Tonnage Tax in the Penn- 
sylvania Charter — The Advent of Thomas A. Scott — Inter- 
esting Episode of Scott's Efforts to Repeal Tonnage Tax in 
i860 — The Repudiation Eruption in Allegheny 13a 

XIV. — Pennsylvania Railroad Presidents. 

Mr. Merrick, First President, Wearied of the Labor and Retired — 
Patterson, his Successor, the only President of the Company 
Defeated for Re-election — J. Edgar Thompson's Great Work 
in Completing the Line — The Fortunate Combination of 
Thompson and Scott — Scott was a Master Builder and Con- 
ceived and Largely Created the Great Pennsylvania System — 

Contents xv 


Roberts, an Accomplished Engineer and Thorough Operator of 
the Great System, Succeeded Scott — Frank Thomson, One of- 
the most Accomplished Transportationists of his Day, Sue 
ceeded Roberts, and Cassatt, First Great Railroad Man of the 
World To-day, Succeeded Thomson 144 

XV. — ^The Philadelphia and Reading. 

Originally Chartered in 1833 — Designed Solely as a Coal Line — 
Originally not Constructed for Passenger Traffic — ^John Tucker, 
the Thomas A. Scott of the Reading — Charles E. Smith's 
Presidency — Service Rendered the Government During the 
Civil War — Stock Fluctuated from 82f, in 1864, to $1.25 in 
1896 — Franklin B. Gowan, the Brilliant Railway Man, Ahead 
of his Time — President McLeod's Struggle — Chief Justice 
Paxson Resigns to Become a Reading Receiver in 1893 — 
Rescued from Bankruptcy and Restored to a Sound Basis by 
President George F. Baer 157 

XVI. — Governors Shunk and Johnston. 

Shunk Re-elected in 1847 — Johnston Chosen a Whig Senator at 
same Election — Whig Contest for Governor between General 
Irvin and Representative Cooper — Irvin Nominated and De- 
feated — Shunk*s Health Broken into Hopeless Decline in 
Winter of 1848 — Johnston made Speaker of the Senate at 
close of his First Session because he was Preferred for Gov- 
ernor — Shunk Resigned on a Sunday, the Last Day he could 
Resign to bring an Election the Same Year — ^Johnston became 
Governor — Nominated by the Whigs and Elected over Morris 
Longstreth by 297 Majority 169 

XVII. — Governor William F. Johnston. 

One of the Greatest and Ablest Administrators ever Elected Gov- 
ernor — Cooper Elected United States Senator — Early and Bitter 
Estrangement between Senator and Governor — Interesting 
Episode in Deal with Senator Best, who Voted for Himself 
for Speaker — Johnston Unanimously Nominated for Re- 
election — He Made the First Thorough Canvass of the State 
—Defeated by the Christiana Riots , 1 79 

xvi Contents 

XVIII. — Governor Bigler. 


Chief Justice -Gibson, Governor William Bigler of Pennsylvania, 
and Governor John Bigler of California, all in OflSce at the 
same time, Bom in the same Immediate Community — ^Judge 
Campbell Defeated for Supreme Judge and made Attorney 
General, and later Postmaster General — His Appointment 
Strengthened the Native American Element that was Opposed 
to Catholics — Bigler*s Early Career — Thrice Elected Senator 
— His Heroic Veto of Bank Bills — ^The Know Nothing Legis- 
lature of 1855 — Battle between Cameron and Curtin — Failure 
to Elect a Senator — Bigler's Defeat for Governor Made him 
United States Senator 190 

XIX. — ^The Know Nothing Party. 

Repeal of the Missouri Compromise and Expiring Agonies of the 
Whig Party Created a Strong Know Nothing Organization 
Opposed to Foreigners and Catholics — ^The Secret Know Noth- 
ing Party Organized as **The Sons of '76, or Order of the Star 
Spangled Banner" — ^Judge Conrad Elected Mayor by the Know 
Nothings — His Brilliant Literary Work — His Desperate Struggle 
to get a Uniformed Police — Know Nothings Organize as the 
American Party and Nominate Fillmore for President against 
Fremont — ^The Repeal of the Missouri Compromise 302 

XX. — Governor Pollock. 

The Fantastic Election of 1854 — Majorities on State Ticket Varying 
from 37,007 Whig to 190,748 Democratic — Pollock's Career in 
Congress — His Earnest Aid to Professor Morse — Curtin Chair- 
man of the Whig State Conunittee — His Peculiar Deals with 
the Know Nothing Leaders — Severe Conditions Exacted — 
William B. Reed — His Controversy with Curtin — ^The Sad End 
of One of the Most Brilliant Members of the Philadelphia Bar 312 

XXI. — Sale op the Main Line — Erie 


Governor Pollock Progressive in Railroad Advancement — His Eariy 
Support of the Pacific Railway — Sale of the Main Line of 
Canal and Railway to the Pennsylvania Railroad — Supreme 

Contents ^^ 

Court sets aside Tax Provisian Levying Tonnage Taxes to 
be Paid — The Suspension of 1857 — Struggle in the Leps- 
lature to Legalize Suspension of Banks — The Erie Railroad 
Riots — The Prominent Men Involved in the Struggle — Peace 
Finally Attained by a Stakelees Game of Cards a 

XXII. — Political Confusion in 1855. 

Know Nothing Power Broken — The First Republican State Con- 
vention Held at Pittsburg — Democratic, Whig, American and 
Republican Candidates Nominated for Canal Commissioner — 
Republican Convention Nominated Passmore Williamson then 
in Prison — Many Fruitless Efforts made to Unite the Three 
Parties Opposed to Democracy — A Union EfEected after an 
All-night Conference a few Weeks before the Election — Too 
late to Harmonize the Parties — Democrats Carry the State and 
Legislature — Bigler Elected Senator — Rev. Otis H. Tiffany, 
an Important American Factor, a Candidate for United States 
Senator, Originally Selected to Deliver an Address of Wdcome 
to Blaine in New York in 13S4 — Clerical Jealoiisy made Him 
Retire, and Burchard Delivered the Address and Defeated 

XXIII. — Birth op the Republican Party. 

Became a National Organization in i3s6 — Pittsburg Conference 
Issues a Call for Republican National Convention — Fremont 
Nominated for President in Philadelphia — Many Old Line 
Whigs Support Buchanan for President — Fremont and Fill- 
more Forcee Unite on State and Electoral Tickets Defeated 
by 3,000 at the October State Election — Buchanan Carries 
the State by a Thoumnd Majority over Both a 

XXIV.— CoL. John W. Forney. 

Pomey Conducted the Campaign for Buchanan with Masterly Ability 
—His Intimate Relations with Buchanan — Forney was to be 
Editor of the Washington National Organ and Senate Printer 
if Buchanan Succeeded — That Assured Htm Distinction in HiB 
Profession and Ample Fortune — Aggressive Opposition to 
Pomey as Editor of the Democratic Organ from the South — 
His Jamison Letter, brought out in the Forrest Divorce Can, 

^viii Contents 


Made the Breach — Buchanan AsKnta to the Sacrifice of Forney 
— Pomey Advised of it by Buchanan's Secretary — Continued 
His Battle Confident that Buchanan would do Him Justice— 
A Cabinet Position Tendered to Forney — Buchanan Forced to 
Recall it — Buchanan asked the Legislature to Elect Forney 
United States Senator — Cameron Combines the Republicans 
with the Democratic Votes of Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller 
and Defeats Forney — A Foreign Mission Tendered to Forney 
— spinal Estrangement between Buchanan and Forney 254 

XXV. — Cameron's Defeat of Forney. 

Forney's D espera te Battle for Buchanan Greatly Inflamed the Sup- 
porters of Fremont and Fillmore — They Openly Declared that 
the State Election was Carried by Fraud — When Forney was 
Nominated for Senator They were Ready to make any Com- 
bination to Defeat Him — Cameron Not Acceptable to the 
Republicans, but the Desire to Defeat Forney Dominated — 
Senator Charles B. Penrose Managed Cameron's Contest — A 
Republican Committee Visits Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller — 
The Republicans finally Agree to Cast One Solid Vote for 
Cameron to give the Democratic Opponents of Forney a Chance 
to Defeat Him — Interesting Incidents of the Senatorial Elec- 
tion in the Hall of the House — Stirring Scene after the Roll 
Call — Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller Compelled to Leave their 
Hotds 264 

XXVI. — Buchanan and Black. 

The Opposing Political Characteristics of Buchanan and Cameron 
— Buchanan Unjustly Censured as S>'mpathi2ing with the Re- 
bellion — ^Tbe Circtmistances of His Election — The Solid South 
had Chosen Him President — Judge Black's Story of the Inner 
Movements of the Buchanan Cabinet — Interesting Incident of 
Black's Correction of Buchanan's Answer to the Southern 
Commistioners — Black as Buchanan's Ablest and Most Devoted 

XXVII. — Mann and Cassidy. 

Fremont's Defeat Brought Strange Political Conditions — He ^ 
volutionized the Democratic States of New England and 

Contents xix 


West — Mann and Cassidy Lock Horns for the District Attorney- 
ship in Philadelphia — ^The Battle Between Master Politicians — 
Cassidy Returned Elected — Mann Contests the Return in the 
Courts — After a Protracted Trial They Agree to Pool Their 
Issues and Have Two District Attorneys — ^They Go to Harris- 
burg and the Special Bill is Passed and Approved by Governor 
Pollock — Judge Thompson, Who Was Trying the Contested 
Election Case, Refused to Discontinue It, and After Trial 
Decided in Favor of Mann and Refused to Appoint Cassidy a3 
the Additional District Attorney — Cassidy and Mann as Great 
Party Leaders 285 

XXVIII. — Packer and Wilmot. 

William F. Packer a Strong Candidate of His Party for Governor- 
David Wilmot, an Advanced Republican, Nominated by the 
Union State Convention to Force Lingering Know Nothingism 
out of Political Power — They Nominate Haslehvirst for Gov- 
ernor — ^The Way Cleared for Future Battles against the Dem- 
ocrats — Wilmot's Great Ability as a Campaigner agy 

XXIX. — Know Nothing Political Tactics. 

How the Author, after Retiring from Politics Disgtisted with Domi- 
nating Know Nothingism, was Made a Legislative Candidate — 
His Positive Purpose to Decline the Nomination — Prevented 
by the Boisterous Opposition of Know Nothingism to His Elec- 
tion — Nominated to Elect a Local Ticket — He was the only 
Man Successftil with a Strongly Adverse Coxmty added to the 
District — Interesting Experience in a House Two-thirds Demo- 
cratic and a Democratic Senate and Governor — ^The Sale of the 
State Canals 307 

XXX. — How the Erie Railroad was 


Governor Packer's Imposing Inauguration — Forney's Address to the 
Legislature — How Judge John C. Knox Became Attorney Gen- 
eral — William A. Porter Appointed to the Supreme Bench — 
His Defeat and Resignation — Battle for the Sale of the State 
Canals to the Erie Railroad — G. Nelson Smith's Parliamentary 
Tactics — Scheme to Abolish Judge Wilmot's District Defeated 

XX Contents 


in the Democratic House by Fifteen Republican Members 
Agreeing to Vote for or against Anything to Save Wilmot — 
How the Present Usiiry Law was Enacted 318 

XXXI. — ^The People's Party Organized. 

Anti-LeCompton Democrats Ready to Join in a Movement against 
the Democracy — John Hickman's Heroic Career — Sweeping 
Revolutions in the Congressional Districts — Thaddetis Stevens 
Returns to Congress— How He made Edward MacPherson a 
Congressman — MacPherson's Important Work as a Politician, 
Clerk of the House and Historian 331 

XXXII. — Sweeping Victory of People's 


The Know Nothings or Americans Eliminated from Politics — 
Morton McMichael Baptized the People's Party — John M. 
Read of Philadelphia Nominated for the Supreme Bench 
Against the Instructions of Philadelphia Delegates — Elected 
by Over 25,000 — ^The House Changed from Two-thirds Demo- 
cratic to Two-thirds People's Party — The Author's Contest for 
Speaker of the House — His First Experience with Cameron 
Tactics 340 

XXXIII. — Second Democratic Defeat. 

The Opposition Strengthened by the Kansas Agitation and the 
Killing of Broderick in a Duel — An Early People's State Con- 
vention Called — ^Thomas E. Cochran Nominated for Auditor 
General and General Keim for Surveyor General — Both Elected 
by Large Majorities — ^The Author Forced into a Contest for 
State Senator — Political Conditions of the District — ^A Most 
Violent and Defamatory Campaign — ^The Dunkards Decide at 
Church Meeting to Vote for Neighbor McClure — ^The Military 
Committee of the Senate 350 

XXXIV.— The John Brown Tragedy. 

Brown's Invasion of Virginia was Planned in Chambersburg — He 
was Known as Dr. Smith, Engaged in Organizing Mining Oper- 

Contents "d 


ations in Virginia — His Identity not Suspected by Any — The 
Author Writes the Will of One of Brown's Soldiers — Startling 
Announcement of Brown's Attack at Harper's Ferry October 
16, 1859 — ^The Full List of Brown's Associates — The Capture 
of Captain Cook — How His Escape was Prevented — Interesting 
Incidents in the Efforts to Enable Him to Get Out of the 
Chambersburg Jail 360 

XXXV. — ^Liberalizing the Law of 


Titian J. Coffee, State Senator from Indiana County, the Leader in 
Liberalizing Our Laws of Evidence — Several Times Defeated, 
but Finally Won — Career of Glenni W. Schofield — Coffee's Un- 
fortunate Removal to Washington — Interesting Law Relating 
to Inheritance — ^The Married Woman's Act — Gibson's Blunt 
Reversal of Lewis' Poetic Decision — The Battle for Free 
Schools — Defeat of Ner Middleswerth for Signing the Bill as 
Speaker when He Earnestly Opposed and Voted Against It — 
The Free School System Vitalized and made Progressive under 
Curtin as Secretary of the Commonwealth 37a 

XXXVL — ^The Preliminary Battle of i860. 

How the North and South Misunderstood Each Other — ^The Curtin- 
Cameron Feud — Interesting Episodes in Their Quarrel — Cam- 
eron Opposes Curtin for Governor — Curtin Opposes Cameron 
for President — Both Nominated by the Same Convention — 
Cameron Compelled to Restore Curtin Delegates He had Taken 
from Him — Intense Bitterness Between Curtin and Cameron 
Wings of the Party 384 

XXXVIL — Cameron's Struggle for 


The Author made Chairman of the People's State Committee-^ 
Rhode Island and Philadelphia Falter at the Opening of the 
Battle — How Lincoln was Nominated at Chicago— Curtin and 
Lane the Important Factors in Defeating Seward — Pennsyl- 
vania Delegation a Motley Combination — ^The Vote for Presi- 

xxii Contents 


dent in the Convention — Sanderson's Contract with Davis for 
a Cabinet Position for Cameron — Cameron's Efforts to Control 
the State Committee over its Chairman Defeated at Cresson . . . 399 

XXXVIII. — Campaign Methods in i860. 

Difficulty of Obtaining Lincoln Headquarters in Philadelphia — 
Business Men Could not Allow, a Lincoln Flag to be Attached 
to their Buildings — Financial and Business Interests Against 
Lincoln — Dr. Jayne's Generosity — Commissioner Neal's Novel 
Method of Getting Out a Flag — Organizing Discordant Ele- 
ments an Appalling Task — Entire Expenditures of State Com- 
mittee $13,000— Seward Men and National Committee Refuse 
Aid to Pennsylvania — The Know Nothing Break Against Curtin 
—How $3,000 had to be Obtained for the Campaign 41a 

XXXIX. — ^The Lincoln Victory. 

Democrats Open the State Campaign with Great Vigor — Senator 
Welsh Made Chairman of the Democratic State Committee — 
Two National Democratic Tickets Nominated — How Joint Dis- 
cussion Between Curtin and Foster was Unwittingly Provoked, 
and the Difficulty in Abandoning it When Nobody Wanted it 
— ^The October Elections Paralyze the Democrats — The Demo- 
crats Frenzied by the Election of Lincoln 434 

XL. — The Curtin Cabinet. 

Cameron was Senator and Curtin Governor and Implacable in 
Their Political and Personal Resentments — Ptirviance a Com- 
promise as Attorney General — Slifer Made Secretary of the 
Conunonwealth — How Slifer Came to the Surface by Defeat- 
ing Middleswerth for Senator — Slifer's Service to Curtin and 
to the Country Never Justly Appreciated — Cameron's Triumph 
in Electing Cowan United States Senator — Assured His 
Appointment to the Lincoln Cabinet 435 

XLI. — Curtin *s War Deliverance. 

He was Compelled to Give the First Utterance of a Great Northern 
State on the Question of Maintaining the Union — Protracted 
Conference Over the Paragraph of his Inaugural Defining the 

Contents xxiii 


Attitude of Pennsylvania — Curtin Fully Advised of the Strength 
and Determination of the Secession Element — ^The Senate of 
x86i — Sober and Masterly Discussion of the Sectional Issue— 
Thaddeus Stevens and the Cabinet — Cameron made Secretary 
of War — The Philadelphia Appointments 445 

XLII. — Quay's Advent Into State 


How He was Appointed Prothonotary just when of Age — Made 
Private Secretary to Governor Curtin — Although Unassuming, 
He soon Became the Most Important Political Counsellor — 
Appointed Colonel of a Regiment in 186 a — Forced March to 
Antietam — Forced by Curtin to Resign as Colonel to Become 
Military State Agent at Washington — Resignation Accepted 
and Mustered Out Just Before the Battle of Fredericksburg 
— ^Voltmteered to Serve on Tyler's Staff — One of the Ofl&cers 
who Led the Bloody Charge at St. Marie Heights — Enters the 
Legislature in 1866— -Curtin Candidate for Speaker in 1867 — 
Defeated by Senatorial Combination Made by Cameron — How 
Quay Became Associated with Cameron — Prom Lieutenant 
Became Leader of the Cameron Dynasty 456 

XLIII. — Business Interests Demanded 


Philadelphia Then the Great Emporium of the Southern Trade- 
Dinner Given to the Author as Chairman of the Lincoln-Curtin 
State Committee — Importunities From Business Interests 
Against Any Expressions Offensive to the South — Curtin*s 
Deliverance was Regarded as Most Important, and it was 
Studiedly Conservative — MacVeagh's Plain Speech — Pennsyl- 
vania Militia Practically Without Organization — Conference 
with Lincoln After the Surrender of Sumter — Curtin's Strong 
Organization — Washington and Baltimore Cut Off from the 
North — General Patterson Makes Requisition for 35,000 Addi- 
tional Troops — Order Recalled by Secretary of War when 
Telegraph Line was Opened — Pennsylvania Reserve Corps 
Organized — Offered to the Government Before the Battle of 
Bull Run, but Refused — Importunate Calls for the Reserves 
Aft^r the Defeat &% Bull Run. ,.,.,.....,,.., 46$ 

»^v Contents 

XLIV. — Repeal op the Tonnage Tax. 


One of the Most Desperate Struggles of Our Legislative History — 
Bitterly Opposed by the General Hostility to Corporations, 
Although Paith of the State Pledged to the Repeal — Col. 
Scott's Heroic Efforts to Organize the State and Make His 
Railway a Through Line — Deadlock in the Senate for Several 
Weeks^Interesting Debate in the Senate on the Final Passage 
of the Bill — Penny and Clymer Lead to Fight Against It — 
The Measure Clearly Right, but Opposed by Violent Popular 
Prejudice — Many Legislators Fell Who Supported the Bill — 
Its Final Passage Opened the Way for Pennsylvania Ad- 
vancing 478 

XLV. — Hasty Preparations for War. 

The North Practically United by the Bombardment of the Starving 
Garrison at Sumter — ^Jefferson Davis' Views on the Subject — 
Secession of Virginia and North Carolina Forced by the Attack 
on Sumter — Both Sides Expected a Short War — General 
Patterson with a Number of His Officers Dines with the Author 
at Chambersburg — Their Views about the War — Only One 
Declared that if a Single Battle was Fought it Would be the 
Bloodiest War of Modem History — General Thomas Silent — 
Shock to the Loyal Sentiment by the Defeat at Bull Run — 
McClellan Called to Command — Discontent from Inaction of 
the Army in the Late Fall of 1861 — Curtin's Care of the 
Soldiers — Presentation of Flags to the Pennsylvania Re- 
serves 489 

XLVI. — Political Conditions in i86i. 

Inaction of the Army Strengthened Opposition to the War — No 
State Ticket to Elect in Pennsylvania — ^The Author, as Chair- 
man of the State Committee, with the Approval of Curtin, 
Made Combination with War Democrats — John Rowe of 
Franklin, John Scott of Himtingdon, Cyrus L. Pershing of 
Cambria, and (Jther War Democrats Nominated for the Legis- 
lature by the Republicans — War Democrats Held the Balance 
of J'owcr in the House — Republicans Unite with Them and 
Make Kowe Sf)caker — Hopkins and Williams Lead in an In- 
vestigation of the Passage of the Repeal of %h^ Tonnage TsQi 

Contents xxv 


— An Able and Clean Committee Appointed — Ccl. Scott then 
Assistant Secretary of War — Efforts to get Him as a Witness — 
Sergeant-at-Arms Sent Several Times to Subpoena Scott, but 
after a Conference with Scott Reported that Scott could not 
be Found — Williams Appeals to Secretary Stanton — Senator 
Wilmot Carried the Case Frankly to President Lincoln — Scott 
Ordered to the Army in the Southwest 500 

XL VI I. — Meredith Enters the Curtin 


Attorney-General Purviance Refused to Resign at the End of the 
Year — Coffee's Visit to Urge a Continuation of Purviance — 
Curtin's Prompt Notice that the Resignation must be Given, 
as Senator Finney was to Take the Place — Purviance's Sudden 
and Offensive Resignation — Finney Insisted that Curtin, In- 
stead of Appointing Finney, Should Appoint the Most Eminent 
Lawyer of the State — He Named Meredith, and All at Once 
Approved — Meredith Twice Declined, but Finally when Curtin 
Met Him He Reluctantly Assented — How Meredith Met Great 
Emergencies — He Hears the Case of a Soldier Convicted of 
Murder — Bribery Charges in the Senatorial Election of 1863 
— ^The House Adopted Resolution Instructing Attorney General 
to Prosecute Cameron and Others — Cameron Calls upon the 
Author, Who Visited Meredith to Discuss the Prosecution of 
the Cases — Meredith's Tactftil Reply 513 

XLVIII. — ^The Hopkins Investigation. 

How it was Conserved by Adding Five Able and Dispassionate Men 
to Hopkins and WtUiams — ^John Cessna an Important Factor 
in Shaping the Results — His Unique Contest for a Seat in the 
House — How He was Able to Obtain It — He was an Aggressive 
Candidate for the Democratic Nomination for Governor — Re- 
Elected and Made Democratic Speaker — Commtmication Be- 
tween Hopkins and the Author — ^The Political Feature of the 
Investigation Eliminated — Hopkins and the Author Met Fre- 
quently, and Ten Years Later Served Together in the Senate, 
but the Investigation Never was Alluded To— Popular Pre- 
judice Mastered by the Severe Strain of War and the Wonder- 
fvl Development of Our Industrie , ,...,... 526 

xxvi Contents 

XLIX. — ^The State Draft of 1862. 


Difficulty in Furnishing Troops — Volunteering had Ceased — ^The 
Altoona Conference of Loyal Governors Suggested by Curtin— 
That Meeting Enabled the President to Obtain All the Troops 
Needed — ^The Author Called to Take Charge of the Draft in 
Pennsylvania, a Most Laborious and Complicated Task — Poli- 
tical Interests Openly Disregarded in the Selecting of Draft 
Officers — Rebellion of the Molly Maguires — They Riotously 
Drove Conscripts From the Cars in Schuylkill County — Stanton 
Ordered the Author to Hurry Troops to the Molly Maguire 
Region and Enforce the Draft — Lincoln's Sagacious Method of 
Avoiding a Conflict in the Enforcement of the Draft — Phila- 
delphia Evades the Draft 537 

L. — ^The Emancipation Proclamation. 

The Author Hindered in Forwarding Conscripts from Harrisburg — 
Military Officers in the Interest of Contractors — President 
Lincoln Appoints the Author Assistant Adjutant General of 
the United States with a Rank that Made Him Commandant 
at Harrisburg — How the Troops Were Promptly Mustered and 
Forwarded — ^The Preliminiary Emancipation Proclamation a 
Death Blow to Republican Success — ^The Author's Appeals to 
Lincoln on the Subject — New York, New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois Elected Democratic State 
Tickets and Democratic Delegations to Congress — Speaker 
Grow Retired from Congress by a New Apportionment — A 
Nimiber of Other Republicans Defeated 552 

LI. — ^The Battle of Antietam. 

General J. W. Palmer's Preliminary Achievements as a Scout— Then 
Captain of Anderson's Body Guard — ^The Author Remained in 
Chambersburg and Directed Movements of Palmer and His 
Fifty Odd Men as Scouts — All Important Information of Lee's 
Movements Furnished by Palmer to the Author, Repeated to 
Curtin and Promptly Sent to McClellan Through the War 
Department — Expected Invasion of Pennsylvania — General 
McClellan in Dispatch to the Author Directed Him to Delay 
Lee's Movement Until the Union Army Could Overtake Him 
and Give Battle — The Author with McClellan on the Battle 
Fi^d — Bumside's Appeal for R^ix^forqements — McClellaQ's 


Contents xxvii 


Reason for Refusing — McClellan Believed that Lee had 120,000 
Men — Palmer Repeats His Scouting after Antietam, and is Cap- 
tured and Convicted as a Spy — How He was Saved by Manufac- 
tured Washington Dispatches in the Philadelphia Newspapers. . 563 

LII. — ^A Night with Stuart's Raiders. 

How the North and South Misunderstood Each Other — A Most 
Interesting and Instructive Entertainment at the Author's 
House with a Number of Raider Stuart's Officers as Guests 
— Their Sagacity, Without Opportunity of Conference, in 
Withholding Their Names and Refusing to Recognize the 
Author — They had Asked Hospitality and Received It Gen- 
erously, Knowing Soon after They Entered the House that 
They were Under Orders to Take Host as Prisoner to Rich- 
mond — ^The First Advent of the Confederates into Chambers- 
burg — Interview with Wade Hampton — Hugh Logan Notifies 
the Author that He is to be Taken Prisoner — ^Midnight Visit 
From Col. Watts and a Squad of Stuart's Command — The 
Entire Night Spent in Discussing the War in the Most Earnest 
and Courteous Manner — ^The Identity of the Guests Not Dis- 
covered Until Ten Years Later 575 

LIII. — ^The Street Car in Philadelphia. 

The Old Omnibus Lines Radiated Through the City Proper from 
the Commercial Exchange — ^The Initial Street Railway Charter 
Passed in 1854 Lay Dormant for Several Years — Experience 
as a Legislator in Granting the Leading Street Railway Char- 
ters of the City — ^The Author Visited Philadelphia and Qmetly 
Inspected the Lines — Residents on Arch, Chestnut and Walnut 
Streets Almost Unanimously Protested Against the Street Rail- 
way, and an Overwhelming Majority of the People [of Market 
Street — Owners of the Charter Afraid to Enter on Market or 
Chestnut for Months after the Bill had Passed — Wonderful 
Growth of the Street Railway Sjrstem — Now Carries 400,000,000 
Passengers a Year — Objection to Stmday Cars — ^The Race Issue 
Another Most Serious Embarrassment — Many of the Whites 
Refuse to Ride in the Same Car with the Negroes — Violent 
Hostility to the Introduction of the Trolley System — The 
Mayor Bows to the Poptilar Protest and Vetoed the Measure 
— Passed Over His Veto, and is Now the Great Monument 
pf {Ii§ Administration — P. A- B. WicJ^n^r .................. 588 


Volume I 

JAMES BUCHANAN Frontispiece 

Pennsylvania's only President. 




Btimed February 2, 1897. 

TUTION OF 1790 33 

Thomas Mifflin, Thomas McKean, Simon Snyder, 
William Findlay. 


Served longest as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, 
from 1827 until his death (1853). 

TUTION OF 1790 49 

Joseph Hiester, J. Andrew Schulze, George Wolf, 
Joseph Ritner. 


Conjg^essman and State Legislator. 





The Creator of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. 


The first man to make Anthracite Iron. 


Four times Elected United States Senator (be- 
tween 1845 ^^d i^77)« 


The only Vice-President of the United States from 
Pennsylvania (1845-49). 


Who was the Cause of the Change to an Elective 
Judiciary in Pennsylvania. 

TUTION OF 1838 128 

David R. Porter, Francis R. Shunk, William F. 
Johnston, William Bigler, James Pollock. 


First President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, 
(retired 1849). 


Second President of the Pennsylvania Railrgad 




Third President of the Pennsylvania Raihx>ad 
(died in office 1874). 


Fifth President of the Pennsylvania Railroad 


Sixth President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

A. J. CASSATT 155 

Seventh President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 


President Reading Railway Under Latest Reorgan- 

TUTION OF 1838 169 

William F. Packer, Andrew G. Curtin, John W. 
Geary, John F. Hartranft. 


Pennsylvania Judge, and Attomey-Greneral and 
United States Postmaster General, 1853-57. 


First Mayor of Philadelphia tmder Consolidation. 

xxxii Illustrations 



Congressman and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. 


President Dickinson College and Know Nothing 
Member and Leader of Pennsylvania Lregislature. 


Imprisoned for Contempt in Fugitive Slave Case. 


Foimder of the ** Philadelphia Press." 


Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, U. S. Attorney 
General, and U. S. Secretary of State Under 
President Buchanan. 


Prosecuting Attorney and Political Leader of 


Successively Congressman, Judge, Candidate for 
Governor (1857), United States Senator (i86i- 
63), and subsequently Judge of the U. S. Court 
of Claims. 


The Great Commoner during the Civil War. 




Editor and Auditor General of Pennsylvania. 


Leader in Harper's Ferry Raid. 


United States Senator and Minister to Russia. 


First Republican Mayor of Philadelphia. 


Congressman, and Candidate for Governor, i86o. 


Secretary of the Commonwealth. 


Several times Foreign Minister and Attorney Gen- 
eral of the United States. 


Fourth President of Pennsylvania Railroad (1874- 
1880), and Master in Politics and Railroad 


Leader of Philadelphia Bar, Secretary of Treasury, 
State Attorney General during later War period. 




Speaker of Hopkins House in Buckshot War, Canal 
Commissioner, State Senator. 


Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army 

P. A. B. WIDENER 592 

Philadelphia City Treasurer, Master in Street Rail- 
way Management. 

. -> 




Not a Steamship on the Seas, Nor a Locomotive Drawing Cars when 
the Writer was Bom — The Battle for Free Schools — The Brave 
Dutch Governor Wolf Defeated for Approving the Measure— 
The Beautiful Neighborly Qualities — Partisan Intolerance Greater 
Then than Now, and Political Frauds often Boldly Practised — 
Our Improved Civilization. 

IN PRESENTING the series of " Old Time Notes 
of Pennsylvania" to the public, I do not pro- 
pose an autobiography, as the historical events 
to be given will be of much more importance to 
the public than the personality of the writer, but as 
I shall deal wholly with events of which I had more 
or less personal knowledge, or in which I have more 
or less personally participated, it will be impossible 
to repress the little perpendicular pronoun. 

They will deal largely with public men and measures 
which figured prominently in the annals of the Com- 
monwealth, and they will give the iimer history of 
public movements, and of the triumphs and failures 
of public men, that histories and biographies are 
usually compelled to ignore. 

For many years I was in an humble way aggressively 
active in the political movements of the State, and like 
all aggressive men was honored with many enemies, 
but those struggles, with nearly all of the men who were 
factors in them, have passed away, and the enmities 
which they created have long since mellowed into 
forgetfulness. I feel now that I can safely write even 

. (17) 

1 8 Old Time Notes 

of the bitterest foes I have made in the conflicts of 
the past, without a shadow of prejudice. 

While I shall endeavor to make these chapters both 

entertaining and instructive by truthfully portraying 

important public movements and the men engaged in 

them, the presentation cannot be entirely complete. 

Many interesting events happen in a long political life 

I which could not be frankly given to the public. Most 

[ men of intelligence and close observation in public 

' affairs become cognizant of movements which cannot 

be made public while certain actors are living, and of 
course cannot be made public after their death. The 
careful student of public men during periods so appall- 
ingly eventful as the last forty years in this country, 
must accept the conclusion that infirmity, differing 
only in degree, is an invariable attribute of greatness. 
It was my good forttme to know more or less inti- 
mately all of the great military chieftains and states- 
men of the terrible trial that both endured in our Civil 
War and Reconstruction, and I recall the names of but 
three men who grow greater as you more closely ap- 
proach them. They were Abraham Lincoln, General 
George H. Thomas and Commoner Thaddeus Stevens, 
and none would pretend that they were perfect in all 
the great qualities which make up himian character. 
Of all these men whose names stand out in such lustrous 
distinction in the annals of the Republic saved in the 
flame of battle, it would be safe to stmimon the sinless to 
accuse, and the world would thus be summoned to silence. 
When I was bom there was not a single steamship 
on the seas of the world, nor a single train of cars drawn 
by a locomotive. Ohio was loiown as the "back 
woods," and there were vague traditions of boundless 
fertile prairies beyond stretching out to the Father of 
Waters. True, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri 
had been admitted as States, but they were all very 


Of Pennsylvania 19 

sparsely settled without any means of conveyance 
but the mud roads which were often impassable. A 
journey from eastern Pennsylvania to any one of the 
Western States was then a vastly greater and more 
perilous tmdertaking than would be a journey aroimd 
the world to-day. The entire population of the Re- 
public did not exceed 12,000,000, and Pennsylvania 
had about 1,250,000, or less than one-fourth of our 
present population. What was then justly regarded 
as the great line of public improvements between 
Philadelphia and Pittsburg, had just been completed 
and opened a new avenue of trade that was in- 
exorably closed during the winter season, when the 
only public highways for trade and travel were 
the turnpikes, chiefly built by the State, over 
which Conestoga wagons with their six-horse teams 
handled the trade between Philadelphia, Baltimore and 

Free schools were tmknown, and the few who dared 
to advocate them did not venture to seek political 
preferment. The cross-road schoolhouse was found in 
every commtmity, but it was usually the center of a 
neighborhood five or six miles in diameter. Every 
schoolhouse had its teacher during the winter season, 
for which he was usually paid so much by the parent 
for each scholar, and " boarded around'* with his patrons. 
Teaching was confined to reading, writing and arith- 
metic, and I well remember the hostility aroused among 
a large portion of my school district when the violent 
innovation was made of teaching grammar. It was 
long resisted, but finally succeeded to the extent of 
permitting the teacher to teach it, although there were 
very few who accepted what was generally regarded as 
such a needless feature of education for their sons. 
The one green memory I have of the occasional schools 
of that time is that of the holiday frolic. It was then 

do Old Time Notes 

that the school children had not only absolute freedom 
to bar their teacher out and keep him out even with 
hot pokers if he tried to climb through the window, 
until he compromised by giving them a liberal supply 
of apples and nuts. If the teacher had walked away, 
as he prestmiably might have done, without tmder- 
taking to force his way into the schoolhouse, he would 
have been promptly dismissed by the school authori- 
ties, and, while a majority of the parents of children 
would have flogged their boys severely at any other 
time for the antics they played upon the teacher in 
the holiday season, they were expected even by the 
strictest of parents to take a full hand in the holiday 
battle, and the boy who gave the teacher the bravest 
fight was the hero of the hour. If the teacher fought 
his way into the schoolhouse or entered it by com- 
promise with the boys, the moment he was within the 
sanctuary of his authority discipline was instantly 
resumed, but there could be no punishment for the 
scholars who were in the fight. 

I well remember the early battles made in the 
neighborhood in which I lived for the acceptance of 
the free school system. The original free school law 
was very crude, but it was the best that could be 
obtained at the time, and it cost the brave Dutch 
Grovemor (Wolf) who signed it, and many who had 
supported it, defeat before the people. It was not 
compulsory, and at any spring election a certain num- 
ber of citizens could call for a vote on the acceptance 
of the free school law, and many times did the few 
Scotch-Irish in the neighborhood make a brave struggle 
for the acceptance of free schools, but they were voted 
down half a dozen times or more by the united vote 
of the Germans and others who opposed taxation for 
free education. Our school system was thus of little 
value, and advancement in it was very slow imtil Ciutin • 

Of Pennsylvania 21 

became secretary of the commonwealth, in 1855, 
when it was made a distinct department and placed in 
charge of the assistant secretary of the commonwealth, 
the late Henry C. Hickok, who had heart and soul 
in the cause, and imder Ctirtin*s direction gave the 
free school system of our State a standing that com- 
manded general respect. 

It was not an unconmion thing in those days to 
find whole families grow up without a single member 
of it being able to read or write. Ner Middleswarth, 
of Union County, who acquired more than State fame 
as a political leader, and who was speaker of the house 
for a number of terms, openly and earnestly opposed 
the school law, and gave as a reason that he had never 
been to school in his life. Some of his own children 
grew up without even the ordinary education given 
in our schools. To exhibit the sentiment of that day 
on the subject of education there is no better illustra- 
tion than the defeat of Thaddeus Stevens, in Adams 
Cotmty, for the house of representatives, for the 
single offense of having carried an appropriation from 
the State for the Gettysburg College. Not only was 
the prevailing sentiment of the State against free edu- 
cation for children, but at that time it was implacably 
hostile to any appropriation for colleges. 

The only library to which the yoimg people had 
access in the rural sections of the State was that con- 
sisting of a few books which the Sunday school could 
manage to get together, and given out to the scholars 
from week to week. They were few in number, and 
generally of a cheap but clean class, and the few scholars 
who were ambitious to learn were thus enabled to 
indulge to a limited extent their taste for reading. 
The household library of well-to-do homes consisted 
of the English or German Bible, and among the Pres— 
bjrterians the Confession of Faith, and the more ad- 

22 Old Time Notes 

vanced would have Scott's Commentaries and Fox's 
Book of Mart5rrs. Beyond these the opportunities of 
young people for reading were limited to the county 
newspaper, where any newspaper was taken at aH and 
the more prosperous families added a religious weekly. 
School boys and girls learned more at the night spelling 
school that was always conducted on a sharply com- 
petitive principle. It was considered the highest 
honor of the neighborhood to be at the head of the 
class, and as a rule the children of that dav who were 
at all inclined to acquire an education were excellent 
in orthography. Night schools for reading and singing 
were also common, and were a great source of diversion, 
as well as of improvement for the young people. It 
was seldom that a vigorous young man who was able 
to perform manual labor on the farm or in the shop 
was ever thought of for any of the professions. If there 
was a cripple or an invalid in the family the rule was 
to give him a fair education and make him a teacher, 
or sometimes he was accorded a collegiate education 
to devote his life to a profession, chiefly because he was 
not able to wield the grain cradle and the flail. 

The memory of the people of those days that 
comes to me with the sweetest incense is that of the 
serene content that prevailed among all classes and 
conditions. No one possessed great wealth, but none 
were so poor that they could not have food and raiment 
unless hindered by serious illness. In such cases there 
were always prompt and generous ministrations. 
The sick and the sorrowing of every community were 
known in almost every household, and where there 
was want there was always a most willing supply. 
No matter how people differed in politics or in religion, 
or on any of the other questions which at times divided 
rural communities, the duty of caring for the children 
of sorrow was accepted by all. Religion was the com- 

Of Pennsylvania 23 

mon law, and Sunday was made a day of most tedious 
and laborious worship. The neighborly feeling that 
was cherished by all was one of the most beautiful 
attributes of human nature, and it is a misfortime that 
it has almost wholly perished as the railroad, the tele- 
graph, the newspaper and all the other many agencies 
of progress have transformed our nu'al communities 
of the long ago into the unrest of modem and better 
civilization. There can be no great transformation 
of the tastes and habits of a people without some loss of 
that which should have been preserved ; but, discounted 
by all the unrest that modem civilization has brought, 
it has made men and women stronger and nobler, and 
has vastly greater sources of restraint than were thought 
of in the quiet days of the contented rural life. The 
house in which I was bom and reared, although a brick 
building and comfortably furnished, never had a lock 
on door or window, and the burglar, or even the petty 
sneak thief, was entirely unthought of. 

It is a common and very erroneous belief that the 
political battles of the early days were much more 
dignified, and much more free from dishonest manipula- 
tion than the political contests of the present. The 
student of our history who carefully studies the early 
political contests of Pennsylvania will find that a 
degree of political intolerance prevailed even among 
the more intelligent citizens that would not now be 
tolerated in any community. Party leadership as a 
rule was more blindly followed than it is to-day, as 
few even of the more enlightened people accepted any 
political literature but that which came from a cotmtry 
party organ, or from other partisan sources. Party 
revolts were as common then as now, and often pre- 
cipitated the most desperate and defamatory contests, 
and the State political struggle of 1838 between Ritner 
and Porter has never been approached in any modem 

34 Old Time Notes 

political stniggle in reckless prostitution of the ballot 
or in malignant, wanton defamation. No political 
journal with any pretension to decency could print 
to-day against a candidate any of the many defamatory 
articles which swept over the State like a tempest in 
1838. A larger measure of fraud has doubtless been 
perpetrated in modem elections, but as far as the lim- 
ited opportunities of that day offered, the game of fraud 
was played to the limit. One township in Huntingdon 
County returned i ,060 majority for Ritner in a district 
where there were not 200 citizens. The excuse given 
for the vote was that there was a breach in the canal 
and that some 800 laborers had been employed, when 
it would not have been possible to give employment 
to half the number. The new railroad in Adams 
County for which Stevens had obtained State aid, and 
that was commonly known in political circles as **the 
tapeworm," swelled the majority in Adams up in the 
thousands, and dual returns for members of the Legis- 
lature in the county of Philadelphia led to the creation 
of two houses at Harrisburg and wrote the history of 
the Buckshot War to shame the annals of the State. 

Political intolerance became very general in the 
early struggles between Jefferson and Adams, and the 
desperate methods which party leaders adopted in 
those days prove that defiant disregard of the popular 
will is not a modem invention. One of the most dis- 
graceful records made by the Pennsylvania Legisla- 
ture was when in 1 800 it literally stole seven electoral 
votes from Jefferson and transferred them to Adams. 
It did not affect the result, and, therefore, it was a 
political crime without compensation. The Federalists 
dominated the senate and the Jefferson Republicans 
controlled the house and had a majority on joint 
ballot. There was then no general law providing for 
the choice of electors in Pennsylvania, but at each of 


Of Pennsylvania 25 

the previous presidential elections the Legislature 
had passed a special act authorizing the people to vote 
for electors. Governor McKean summoned the Legis- 
lature in time to provide for a popular election, but 
the Federal senate, knowing that Jefferson would carry 
the State, refused to pass an act authorizing the people 
to vote. 

Under the Constitution it is within the power of a 
State to choose electors as the Legislature shall direct, 
and in the absence of a popular vote it is competent 
for any Legislature to choose presidential electors. 
Not only did the Federal senate refuse to permit the 
passage of the bill providing for an election, but it 
refused to go into joint convention to choose presiden- 
tial electors, because in the convention the friends of 
Jefferson had a majority. The State was entitled to 
fifteen electors, and the Federal senate finally proposed 
to the house that its members would go into joint con- 
vention upon the condition that each house should first 
name eight candidates for electors and that in the joint 
convention none should be voted for but the sixteen 
thus presented. The friends of Jefferson were com- 
pelled to accept the proposition or to lose the entire 
vote of the State, and they accepted the terms and 
thereby got eight of the fifteen votes for Jefferson, while 
Adams received seven. 

Probably the most aggressive display of intolerance 
in early days was exhibited by the Jackson Democrats 
of Pennsylvania. How it happened no one can tell, 
for there seemed never to be any special reason given 
for it, but it is none the less true that Jackson was 
more reverenced and more blindly worshiped in Penn- 
sylvania than in any other State of the Union. For 
scores of years after his death it was a common saying 
that the Democrats of the Tenth Legion section of the 
State never stopped voting for Jackson. It was the 

26 Old Time Notes 

Jackson ticket all the time, even long after he was dead, 
and at the Fourth of July celebrations of those times, 
the militia reviews, the com huskings and other occa- 
sions which brought the people together, knock-downs 
to clinch political arguments were inevitable. 

A fair illustration of political ethics of that day 
is given in the vote of one of the river townships of 
the Juniata Valley, where out of nearly one hundred 
votes there was but one Federalist. He was a highly 
respected citizen, an excellent neighbor, a large land- 
owner, and was so highly esteemed that he was allowed 
to vote the Federal ticket without offensive criticism. 
In 1824 Jackson received the entire vote of the town- 
ship with a single exception, and as that was the vote 
of John Light, a respected neighbor, everything went 
off harmoniously. In 1828, when Adams and Jackson 
ran again, the township was canvassed as usual, and 
it rounded up all for Jackson except John Light. The 
election was held at a stillhouse, and the Jackson 
rooters were enthused by fresh whisky. Nearly all 
waited for the vote to be counted and, to the utter 
consternation of the Jackson people, there were three 
Adams votes in the box. One vote for Adams was 
all right, but the entire Jackson force at once started 
in for an aggressive search to find the two others who 
had betrayed the party. One was soon discovered 
as a laborer who had been discharged some time before 
by a prominent Jackson man, and he was whipped on 
the spot. After a most careful search they were unable 
to fix definitely upon the other criminal, but strong 
suspicion attached to two persons, and in order to 
make sure of it the Jackson boys whipped both. 

When it is remembered that John Adams, when 
defeated by Jefferson in 1800, refused to remain in the 
President's house to receive his successor, the common 
people of that day should not be harshly blamed for 

Of Pennsylvania 


their political intolerance. The universal diffusion of 
the newspaper in almost every home and the rude song 
of the iron horse that is heard in almost every valley 
and hillside, have enlarged the intelligence and broad- 
ened the generous attributes of men, and to-day it is 
most uncommon to see political differences, even among 
the most aggressive gladiators, lessen their courtesies 
or impair their friendships. Great and good as were 
the fathers of the Republic, our civilization of to-day 
is vastly better, and men and women nobler than they 
were in what we so often mistakenly refer to as the 
better days of the past. 


28 Old Time Notes 



Two Ex-Governors Who Survived Their Official Terms Nearly a Quarter 
of a Century — The Two Most Desperately Defamed Men of Our 
Political History — The Porter-Ritner Campaign of 1835 — The 
Most Malignant and Desperate of All Our Great Contests — The 
Personal Qualities of Two Ex-Governors — Whittier Embalmed 
Ritner in Poetry for His Anti-Slavery Views — Porter Rescued the 
State from Repudiation. 

IT HAS been my good fortune to know more or less 
intimately every Governor of Pennsylvania from 
Governor Ritner to the present time, with the 
single exception of Governor Shunk, whom I met only 
once in a casual way. Of course, I did not know 
Governor Ritner while he was the chief magistrate of 
the State, as he entered his office when I was seven 
1] years of age, nor did I know Governor Porter person- 

ally until after his retirement, but both of them 
lived to a ripe old age, and both were recognized as 
important political factors during our Civil War. 

These two men furnish more interesting chapters 
to the early annals of the State than have been written 
by any of their contemporaries, and neither of them is 
justly estimated by the people of to-day. They were 
direct competitors for the gubernatorial chair in the 
most absorbing and desperate political contest ever 
known in Pennsylvania, and their administrations 
cover crucial periods in the establishment of our school 
system and in the maintenance of State credit. 

In those days the people had little opportunity 
to make the personal acquaintance of their prominent 
men. Almost every citizen of the State can personally 

of Pennsylvania 29 

see the Governor now some time dtiring his term with 
Uttle inconvenience, but in those days, with no means 
of transportation but the mud wagon, state candidates 
made no canvass and met but a very small proportion 
of the people whose votes they sought, and the rural 
population very rarely reached the centers where the 
acquaintance of public men could be made. There 
was thus some measure of safety in assailing important 
candidates even to the high-water mark of defamation, 
and most of the people who opposed Ritner in his 
various contests believed him to be an ignorant Dutch- 
man, incapable of speaking the English language with 
anything approaching propriety, and stupid to a degree 
beneath mediocrity, and most of those who opposed Por- 
ter believed him to be entirely destitute of moral attri- 
butes and utterly unfitted for responsible public trust. 

Many stories were published giving circtmistantial 
illustrations of the ignorance of Ritner. One I recall 
tells of a prominent citizen of Centre County who visited 
him in the executive office to obtain an appointment 
as prothonotary, as the Governor then appointed all 
the cotinty officers connected with the courts. Governor 
Ritner was reported as saying that he was taking the 
cotmties up alphabetically and that whenever he came 
to the S's he would make the appointments for Centre. 
Porter was not charged with ignorance, as he repre- 
sented a family of scholarly distinction in the State, 
but there was hardly a crime in the decalogue, excepting 
murder, with which he was not distinctly charged, and 
even murder was remotely intimated. 

I had an intimate acquaintance with Ritner and 
Porter for twenty-five years before their deaths, and 
they were among the most interesting, entertedning 
and instructive of men. Ritner had been bom in 
Berks County in 1780, and was brought up on his 
father's farm. He had little opporttmity for educa- 

30 Qld Time Notes 

tion, but he was a very close student and had a strong 
partiality for German literature. He learned to speak 
the English language as near perfectly as possible for 
one who had not the advantage of a collegiate educa- 
tion, but the German accent was plainly visible. His 
father removed from Berks County to Cumberland, 
near Newville, at an early age, where he married, and 
later removed with his wife's family to Washington 
County, where he became farmer for his wife's uncle, 
who was an excellent German scholar and possessed 
a fine German library. The prospective Governor 
devoted all his leisure hours to the study of the library 
of his uncle, and very soon became a man of affairs. 

In 1820 he was elected to the house of represen- 
tatives and was re-elected for five consecutive years, 
making a service of six years in the body, during two 
of which he was speaker of the house. The fact 
that he had been so long chosen to the house by one 
of the most intelligent counties of the western part of 
the State and had been twice called to the speakership 
should have been sufficient answer to all the scandals 
about his ignorance; and when it is remembered that 
soon after his retirement from the Legislature in 1829 
he was unanimously nominated as the Anti-Masonic 
or opposition candidate to Governor, Wolf, solely 
because he was regarded as the ablest man to lead in 
such a battle, it must seem unaccountable to intelli- 
gent readers of the present age that Ritner was heralded 
all over the State as an utter ignoramus. He was not 
a political manipulator and his nomination for Governor 
was made entirely without any effort of his own. 

The Anti-Masonic party was then in its infancy, 
and Ritner was defeated by about 16,000 majority. 
He was renominated against Wolf for the same office 
in 1832 and was again defeated by about 3,000 majority. 
In 1835 he was again unanimously nominated and was 

of Pennsylvania 31 

elected by a plurality of nearly 30,000, although he 
was in a minority of 10,000 on the whole vote. The 
Democrats had a bolt on the nomination of Governor 
Wolf for the third term, chiefly because of Wolf's 
approval of the free school law, and Henry A. Muhlen- 
berg of Berks was nominated as an independent 
Democratic candidate and polled 40,000 votes to Wolf's 
65,000. In 1838 he was given the fourth consecu- 
tive nomination for Governor, when the Democrats 
imited on Porter and defeated him by about 5,000 

Ritner had able men about him while Governor of 
the State. Thomas H. Burrowes, who afterward 
became conspicuous as one of the great educational 
leaders of the State, was his secretary of the common- 
wealth, and Thaddeus Stevens was canal commissioner. 
Stevens was an able, sagacious and rather desperate 
political leader. I well remember the general judg- 
ment of his political friends when he afterward became 
prominent in politics as a Whig and Republican. 
They regarded him as a matchless leader of a minority 
opposition, but a dangerous leader of a majority. 
Ritner was thoroughly honest and intelligent, but of a 
confiding nature, and certainly permitted Stevens to 
shape some of the most objectionable features of his 
administration, although Ritner always denied it and 
I am sure died in the belief that Stevens had never 
dictated any important feature of his administration 
policy. I remember meeting Ritner when we were 
both delegates to a Republican State convention, of 
which Stevens was also a member, and he and Stevens 
were not in accord on some important question that 
was submitted. In a pleasant chat with Ritner after 
the adjotimment he spoke with some earnestness 
about Stevens' great ability, but added with emphasis: 
" He's a dangerous leader, and useful as he was I never 

32 Old Time Notes 

permitted him to control my administration when I 
was governor. ' ' 

On the absorbing issue of that time Ritner, Stevens 
and BiuTOwes were in hearty accord. The new free 
school law had just been passed, but was not yet in 
practical operation, and it was so hindered in some 
localities that its enforcement seemed to be next to 
an impossibility. Ritner took the boldest stand in 
favor of perfecting and executing the free school law, 
and as it was Stevens' own measure the Governor had 
very hearty support from his canal commissioner. 
Stevens certainly controlled the Legislature and the 
Governor against all reason to involve the State in the 
construction of a railroad in Adams Cotinty that became 
one of the important factors in the defeat of Ritner. 
A large amount of money was expended on it, but it 
was abandoned after the defeat of Ritner and never 
was utilized until within the last few years, when it 
was found to be useful in perfecting a line to Gettys- 

Ritner's administration was clean and free from 
any corrupt profligacy for individual benefit, but tmder 
the leadership of Stevens and Burrowes, who was 
chairman of the Anti-Masonic State committee, every 
public and private measure was shaped to serve political 
ends, and often without much regard to the interests 
of the State. The one distinctly creditable feature of 
the Ritner administration was the courage and sagac^'ty 
exhibited in fighting the battle for free schools, and, had 
the administration at that time been opposed to the 
system, or even indifferent to its success, its defeat 
woiild have been overwhelming. 

One of the most notable of state papers which 
have come from the Governors of Pennsylvania was 
Ritner's message of 1836, in which he discussed the 
slavery question. There was then no slavery issue to 

C>4i-W.^***r»i'..i>',/<-*«fi7fe^^ fe3ct»«<t*&f4*'i&<i-»*^ -O-dy^/ y^ O 

Of Pennsylvania 33 

be solved in the territories, and the only agitation on 
the subject was made by the anti-slavety societies, 
which demanded the abolition of the institution. In 
this message Ritner arraigned slavery fiercely, and with 
such exceptional force that the credit of the paper was 
generally awarded to Stevens. It attracted so much 
attention that the Quaker poet Whittier published one 
of his best anti-slavery poems congratulating the Penn- 
sylvania executive. It began: 

Thank God for the token, one lip is still free, 
One spirit untrammeled, unbending one knee, 

Like the echo of the mountain, deep-rooted and firm, 
Erect when the multitude bends to the storm. 

I have referred in the previous chapter to the tmex- 
ampled bitterness and defamation exhibited in Ritner's 
contest against Porter for re-election in 1838. The 
new Constitution, or what was commonly called " the 
reform Constitution, ' ' was adopted at the same election. 
It made sweeping changes in the fundamental law, 
reducing the judges from a life tenure to a term of 
years, and taking from the Governor the appointment 
of all the important county officers and justices of the 
peace. The returns were slow in coming in those days, 
but in the course of two or three weeks it was known 
that Ritner was defeated by Porter by some 5,000 
majority. Mr. Burrowes, of the Ritner cabinet and 
chairman of the Anti-Masonic committee, issued an 
address stating that a majority of 5,000 had been re- 
turned against Ritner, but charging all manner of 
political frauds and declaring that there must be 
carefiil examination into them before the verdict 
could be accepted. After stating that it was the duty 
of all to bow to the supremacy of the people, he added : 
" But, fellow-citizens, until this investigation shall be 
fully made and fairly determined, let us treat the 

34 Old Time Notes 

election of the 9th inst. as if we had not been defeated, 
and in that attitude abide the restilt/' 

This was simply playing desperate and bungling 
politics. It was an invitation to revolution, and 
naturally aroused the Democrats to take such measures 
as would protect their majority in the State and Legis- 
lature. The bloodless Buckshot War was the natural 
result, and in the end the verdict of the State was 
accepted and the fairly-won supremacy of Porter and 
his party was acknowledged. 

In 1839 Ritner retired to a farm in Cumberland 
Cotmty, where he lived a farmer's life in very com- 
fortable circumstances for thirty-one years, and there 
was no more highly respected citizen of the county. 
He was a frequent visitor to Chambersburg, where 
some of his children lived, and always called upon me 
there to talk over the political situation. His interest 
in politics was unabated until the last. He was a 
frequent delegate to both county and State conven- 
tions, and I met him in the first Republican national 
convention in 1856, where he served as a delegate. 
He was a man of very general intelligence, unusually 
familiar with all public questions, and was a delight- 
fiil conversationalist. His rugged honesty and kind 
neighborly qualities made him beloved by all who knew 
him, and even when he had reached the age of four- 
score and ten his face would brighten as he spoke of 
the progress of our common schools. 

He always attended the teachers' institutes in 
his own county and was generally presiding officer, and 
he journeyed to Erie County in 1861 when eighty- three 
years of age to inaugurate the first State normal school 
erf that section at Edinboro. He always pointed with 
pride to the fact that when he became Governor of 
the State the appropriation to free schools was but 
$75,000 annually, and that it had been increased to 

Of Pennsylvania 35 

$400,000, while the common schools had increased 
from 762 with seventeen academies and no female 
seminaries to 5,000 common schools, 38 academies 
and seven female seminaries in permanent operation. 
Pennsylvania has had many more brilliant Governors 
than Ritner, but it has never had one of more sterling 
integrity, and his memory shoiild ever be gratefully 
cherished as the man who laid the broad fotmdations 
for our present most beneficent system of free edu- 
cation. On October 16, 1869, he passed across the 
dark river, after having braved the storms of ninety 

David R. Porter was unlike Ritner in mental and 
physical organization. Ritner was short, stout and 
dumpy, while Porter was a man of superb physical 
proportions, and was a bom aggressive leader, while 
Ritner gave more heed to the men around him. Porter 
was a man of fair education, and instead of entering 
college when he was fitted to do so he preferred to go 
into the surveyor general's office with his father as a 
clerk with Francis R. Shimk, of the same neighborhood, 
who later became Governor. He was a man of broad 
intelligence, aggressive in his ideas, a most sagacious 
politician, and in every emergency he was his own 
arbiter of his line of action. When he left the surveyor 
general's office he located in Htmtingdon County, 
where he was prothonotary and clerk of all the courts 
for a number of years. His wife aided him in the labors 
of his office, and the records of deeds and mortgages 
in that cotmty give many evidences of the legible 
handwriting and careful work of Mrs. Porter. 

He was elected to the house in 18 19 and in 1836 was 
chosen to the senate. There he made himself felt with 
such emphasis as a leader that Democratic sentiment 
rapidly gravitated toward him as a candidate to make 
the desperate battle against Ritner in 1838. The tmex- 

36 Old Time Notes 

ampled desperation of the campaign and the equally 
desperate efforts made to prevent him reaching the 
office after his election I have already portrayed. He 
was re-elected in 1841 over John Banks, his Whig com- 
petitor, and by more than double the majority he 
received three years before. His term as Governor 
was comparatively uneventful, with the single exception 
of the desperate effort made during his first term to 
stamp the ineffaceable stain of repudiation on the Com- 
monwealth of Pennsylvania. The State debt had 
grown to enormous proportions by the construction of 
our public improvements, there was universal pros- 
tration in commerce, business and trade, and dema- 
gogues were plenty to tell the people that they could 
not and therefore should not attempt to pay the inter- 
est on the debt. 

The people of to-day can hardly understand how a 
great State like Pennsylvania, with 2,000,000 of people, 
could think of repudiating the interest on a debt of less 
than $40,000,000, but there is no doubt that repudi- 
ation would have run riot throughout the State and 
triimiphed in the Legislature but for the heroic stand 
taken by Governor Porter. He had to resort to extraor- 
dinary and more than doubtful constitutional measures 
to save the credit of the State, but he felt that anything 
was preferable to repudiation, and it is safe to say that 
that great act, defying the tempest of popular passion, 
rescued our great Commonwealth from the terrible 
stigma of repudiation. 

Porter retired from his office in 1845, largely es- 
tranged from his party, chiefly because his great busi- 
ness interests had brought him in conflict with its 
views on the protective tariff question. He was one 
of the first men to introduce the manufacture of iron 
with anthracite coal in the interior of the State and for 
some years had a season of great prosperity, but when 

Of Pennsylvania 


the troublous times came he was bankrupted by heavy 

Porter was one of the most familiar figures on the 
streets of Harrisburg during our Civil War, and one of 
the most patriotic of our citizens. I met him many 
times in the dark days of the conflict, and although 
his head was silvered and his eyes dimmed by the 
infirmities of age, he woiild become aroused to enthusi- 
asm when the question was discussed, and never de- 
spaired of the Republic. His life in Harrisburg was very 
quiet, but he never ceased to have interest in all public 
affairs and was regarded as one of the clearest-headed 
and safest counselors among the people. On August 
6, 1867, his life work ended and he was borne to the 
city of the silent profoundly lamented by all who 
knew him. 

38 Old Time Notes 



Pennsylvania's Greatest Jurist — ^The One Error of the Great Jurist's 
Life — His Name a Household Word in the Rural Community 
Where He was Bom — His Only Attempt at Poetry — Elected to 
the Supreme Bench in 1851, and Vacated Chief Justiceship to 
Black, and Died before it Reached Him again. 

THE YEAR 1838 inaugurated a new epoch in the 
history of the State, and it was revolutionary 
in its nature. The gubernatorial contest of that 
year stands out single and alone as the most reckless 
and defamatory political struggle in Pennsylvania 
politics, and the adoption of what was then called 
the ** Reform Constitution" changed the whole political 
system of the State. Under the old Constitution the 
Governor was given almost unlimited power. He 
appointed all the judges of the State, and they were 
commissioned for life or during good behavior. He 
appointed all the important county officers connected 
with the courts, including associate judges, of whom 
there were then two in each county, and all the jus- 
tices of the peace, thus extending his patronage into 
every township of the Commonwealth. 

The earlier Governors found this patronage a most 
important political factor, and it was vigorously em- 
ployed to accomplish a succession of terms in the 
executive office, but gradually the patronage of the 
Governor became a source of discord and disturbance 
as the disappointed were always very many more than 
the successful applicants. The saying of Jefferson 
that an appointment to office often made one ingrate 
and nine enemies was pointedly illustrated at time^ in 

Of Pennsylvania 39 

the disposal of patronage, but the Governors invariably 
wielded their immense, almost boundless, patronage 
for their own individual advantage, or for the advance- 
ment of the political interests with which they were 

The amended Constitution of 1838 was adopted by a 
very small majority, and it was so far-reaching in its 
political transformations that political leaders and 
especially officeholders, whose tenures were limited, 
had great difficulty in adjusting themselves to it. It 
was opposed by the judges of the State not only with 
very general unanimity, but in many instances with 
intense and aggressive hostility. Prior to the adoption 
of the new ftindamental law every judge felt entirely 
secure in his position for life, and the judges of the 
supreme court exhibited their hostil'ty to the new 
Constitution in a manner so offensive to the public 
sentiment that the agitation began at once for the 
election of all our judges by the people, and it was 
constmimated just thirteen years later. Any careful 
student of the political conditions existing in 1838 
must reach the conclusion that if the new Constitution 
had been cordially accepted by the judiciary of the 
State, and interpreted and enforced with generous 
respect, an elective judiciary would have been post- 
poned many years beyond 1851, when it was adopted 
by a large majority. As a limited tenure was provided 
for all judicial offices, it was necessary to adjust the 
termination of the existing commissions, and it was 
provided that the senior supreme judge in commission 
should retire at the end of three years, and the others 
follow according to seniority every three years tintil 
all were retired. The result was that some of the 
judges in the State were guilty of very awkward 
political trickery to extend their terms, and it has always 
been profoundly regretted by the Pennsylvania bar, 

■ I 


■ I 

40 Old Time Notes 

and other intelligent citizens who appreciate the 
incomparable qualities of John Bannister Gibson as 
the greatest of our jurists, that he was persuaded to 
resign his commission as chief justice soon after the 
adoption of the new Constitution and accept the new 
commission for a full term from the Governor. 

There was no political purpose in this error of Chief 
Justice Gibson nor in the action of the Governor. The 
Governor was not his political friend, as Gibson was 
a pronounced Democrat and headed the Jackson 
electoral ticket even when he was on the supreme 
bench, while Governor Ritner, who appointed him, was 
as pronotmced an opponent of Democracy. It is proper 
to say that the new commission received by Gibson was 
given him with the approval of his fellow-judge, who 
was thereby retired three years earlier than he would 
have been if Gibson's term had not been renewed, and 
it is also just to say that Governor Ritner was advised 
to accept the resignation and reappoint the chief 
justice because his retirement from the bench, which 
might occur in three years, would strip that tribu- 
nal of its ablest interpreter of the law. Neverthe- 
less it had all the semblance of political trickery, and 
it grieved the venerable jurist during his entire career. 

Like some others of the great jurists of the world, 
Gibson was not a successful lawyer and advocate. In 
a letter written to W. M. Roberts soon after his ap- 
pointment he frankly told the pathetic story of the 
necessities which compelled him to yield to a movement 
that did not comport with the dignity of the highest 
judicial tribunal. In that letter he said: ** To me who 
for a bare subsistence have given the flower of my life 
to the public instead of my dependent family, a con- 
tinuance in office for the longest period was a matter 
of vital importance, but the arrangement of the con- 
vention, unintentionally severe to me or to any one 

i -. • 

Of Pennsylvania 41 

else, proposed to consign me to penury and want at a 
time of life when I could scarcely expect to establish 
myself in practice, which under the most favorable 
circumstances requires several years. This was known 
to my brethren and felt by them as men.*' He was 
thus continued as chief justice until 185 1, when by 
special amendment of the Constitution every judicial 
office in the State was vacated in a single day. He 
had represented Cumberland, his native county, in the 
Legislature, and as early as 1813 he was appointed 
president judge of the district composed of Tioga, 
Bradford, Susquehanna and Luzerne. Three years 
later, in 181 6, he was appointed an associate justice 
of the supreme court, and on the i8th of May, 1827, 
he was .commissioned as chief justice. Although his 
vigor was much abated, he was nominated as one of the 
five Democratic candidates for supreme judge by the 
Democratic convention of 1851, being the only mem- 
ber of the court nominated by that party The Whigs 
nominated Judge Coulter as an Independent Demo- 
crat, and he was the only candidate on the Whig 
ticket elected, defeating the late Judge Campbell, of 

Judge Collins, of Lancaster, was another of the judges 
who decided to extend his term of office by resignation 
and reappointment. The legality of his new commis- 
sion was disputed in the courts and Justice Kennedy, 
who delivered the judgment of the supreme court (8th 
Watts, 344), made a most insolent attack upon popular 
government because the people had adopted the new 
Constitution. In a solenm judicial deliverance hb 
declared the expected reform of the new Constitution 
to be " the product of a delusion that has been the ruin 
of nations in times past quite as wise, intelligent and 
virtuous at one time of their existence as we have any 
right to claim to be," to which he added, "it would 

42 Old Time Notes 

seem as if the empty pride and incorrigible vanity of our 
nature was without fail either sooner or later to consign 
us to some such unhappy destiny as ever ought to be 
deprecated." The people of those days viewed the 
judicial position with a much larger measure of sanctity 
than is common at the present time, and any act of 
our judicial tribunal that brought reproach upon the 
administration of justice was regarded as an unpardon- 
able offense. The people had chosen to amend the 
ftmdamental law and to take to themselves much of 
the powers which they had conferred upon their 
executive. They did not assimie to select judges by 
popular vote, but they simply limited the judicial 
tenure because they believed that the judges needed 
at times the restraining influence of inteUigent public 

It was in sorrow rather than in anger that they wit- 
nessed Chief Justice Gibson's questionable method of 
extending his term of office, as they all appreciated his 
unblemished integrity and his masterly ability, but 
when another member of the same court, in a judicial 
deliverance from the bench, denounced the people as 
vain fools who must sooner or later destroy their 
government and their own liberties, they were goaded 
to active and earnest resentment. In addition, the 
judges generally, high and low, viewed the new Con- 
stitution with disfavor and availed themselves of every 
opportunity to expose its alleged errors and to bring 
it into contempt. It was this feeling that aroused the 
people to steadily enlarge their own powers by with- 
drawing from the Governor authority they had dele- 
gated, as is exhibited in the action of the Legisla- 
ture making the auditor general, the surveyor general 
and the district attorney elective officers, and by 
1850 the Legislature passed by an overwhelming 
majority in both branches an amendment to the Con- 

Of Pennsylvania 43 

stitution making every judicial office in the State the 
creation of the people by popular vote. 

Chief Justice Gibson is one of the most notable char 
acters of Pennsylvania, and no one character is so 
careftdly and so kindly studied by the legal profession 
of the State as is that of the great jurist. He stands 
in the annals of the Commonwealth head and shoulders 
above his fellow great jurists, and his decisions are not 
only quoted in his State and cotmtry by judicial 
tribunals, but they have been quoted and commended 
in the courts of England. I did not know our great 
chief justice personally until within five years of his 
death, as he was chief justice of Pennsylvania a year 
before I was bom. His name was a household word 
in the community of my boyhood, as his place of birth 
was only a very few miles from my own home. His 
name was referred to with a pride that is natural in a 
primitive rural community when one of their own 
number has reached the highest distinction in the State, 
and among my early recollections I recall the chief 
justice's brother, Frank Gibson, as the man who played 
the fiddle for nearly or quite all the dances, com husk- 
ings and butter boilings of the neighborhood. The 
chief justice, like his brother, was passionately fond 
of the violin, and even tmtil the latest years of his life 
he would retire to his room alone and enjoy his own 
music on his favorite instrument. 

He was a man of most commanding presence and 
perfect physical proportions. In a letter written to a 
friend some time before his death, he said: "I was 
bom among the mountains of Cumberland (now Perry) 
Coimty. Fox himting, fishing, gunning, rifle shooting 
swimming, wrestling and boxing with the natives of 
my age were my exercises and amusements." In such 
a strenuous life it is not marvelous that he developed 
superb physical proportions, and his magnificently 

44 Old Time Notes 

chiseled face ever arrested the attention of even the 
most casual observer. I had few opportunities in my 
brief acquaintance with him of seeing him alone, but I 
sought every opportunity to do so because he was one 
of the most delightful conversationalists, and being 
from the same community that had given him birth 
he loved to talk about his own people and his neighbors 
for whom he cherished the liveliest affection. The 
only attempt he ever made at poetry was when late in 
life he visited the dilapidated home of his birth after an 
absence of many years. It is not a great poem, but it 
shows the simple tastes of the great jurist, and the 
heartstrings of love which went out to his old home 
surroundings. It might be said of Gibson s poem as 
Horace Greeley said in reviewing the poems of John 
Quincy Adams, that they show **what middling things 
a great man may do." I quote the first and last of the 
six stanzas: — 

The home of my youth stands in silence and sadness, 
None that tasted its simple enjoyments are there, 

No longer its walls ring with glee and with gladness, 
No train of blithe melody breaks on the ear. 

But time ne'er retraces the footsteps he measures; 

In fancy alone with the Past we can dwell. 
Then take my last blessing, lov'd scene of young pleasures; 

Dear home of my childhood — forever farewell. 

I saw him frequently on the bench, but his great 
work was then done and his faculties somewhat abated. 
When hearing arguments he rarely manifested interest 
in the case, and it was a common complaint of lawyers 
that he was in the habit of dozing in utter forgetfulness 
of their arguments, but when a case interested him, or 
when a great deliverance was to be made by the court, 
he seemed to be able to summon all his old-time fac- 
ulties and to be fully himself. He was a man of the 

Of Pennsylvania 45 

sweetest disposition and as unpretending as he was 
great. He did not succeed at the bar. He first located 
in Carlisle, the seat of his native county, but soon 
became discouraged and located in Beaver, Pa., whence 
after an unsuccessful effort he removed to Hagerstown, 
Md., where he remamed for several years, but without 
attaining professional success, when he returned to his 
old home in Carlisle, and that remained his home until 
his death. He was very sensitive about his age. He 
was often twitted by his associates on the bench about 
making himself yotmger than he really was, and one 
time when the subject was under discussion in a 
playful way one of his associates asked him to 
entmierate the places he had lived and how long he 
had lived in each. He recited all but Hagerstown, 
when he was reminded that he had omitted that 
place where he had spent several years, to which 
the veteran chief responded, that it would be unfair 
to charge him with the nimiber of years that he had 
lived in that village. 

When the justices were made elective in 185 1 he had 
served thirty-eight years continuously as a judge and 
thirty-three of that period as a justice or chief justice 
of the supreme court. He was then past the patri- 
archal age, and exhibited evidences of feebleness, but 
the leading members of the bar felt that it would be a 
dishonor to the Commonwealth to cast aside her great- 
est jurist. The position of supreme judge was sought 
by many aspirants, and but for the struggles of com- 
petitors for the place he would have been given a very 
cordial nomination, but those who wanted judicial 
honors pleaded his age and infirmities to advance their 
own cause, and he was finally nominated by a very 
small majority, chiefly through the efforts of two promi- 
nent young members of the bar of the State, both of 
whom afterward served on the supreme court, viz., 

46 Old Time Notes 

Chief Justice Mercur, of Bradford, and Justice William 
A. Porter, of Philadelphia. 

The Democratic ticket was successful by about 8,000 
majority with the single exception of the late Judge 
Campbell, of Philadelphia, who was defeated by Justice 
Coulter, one of the Whig candidates, although a Demo- 
crat, and the five new judges — Gibson, Lowrie, Lewis, 
Coulter and Black — were required to ascertain by lot 
which should serve the three, six, nine, twelve and 
fifteen-year terms, the one choosing the shortest term 
to be accepted as the senior member of the court, and 
chief justice. Judge Black, the youngest of all the mem- 
bers of the court, drew the short term and became chief 
justice. Gibson drew the nine-year term, and when he 
did so he said that that would just about round out his 
life and enable him to die as the chief of the court, but 
he seemed to have lost interest in his judicial work, 
and he performed his labors in the most perfunctory 
way. He gradually became more and more infirm, 
and on the 3d of May, 1853, in the 73d year of his age, 
John Bannister Gibson, the greatest of Pennsylvania 
jurists, passed away to join the great majority beyond. 

Of Pennsylvania 47 


A Disgraceful Chapter in the Annals of Pennsylvania — ^Fraudulent 
Election in Philadelphia County was the Primary Cause — Two 
Delegations Returned as Elected to the House — Two Speakers 
Elected — ^The Militia Ordered to Harrisburg to Preserve Order — 
Penrose, Stevens and Burrowes Escaped from the Senate Through 
a Window — Problem Solved by Anti-Masonic Senator John Strohm 
Voting to Recognize the Hopkins Democratic House. 

THE ** Buckshot War" is now at times referred to 
by those interested in the history of Pennsyl- 
vania in the misty memory that mingles tra- 
dition and history. I cannot recall a single history 
of that interesting event that has ever been given to 
the public. It was threshed over in political campaigns 
for many years after it had cast its shadows upon the 
annals of the State, but there are very few who to-day 
could give intelligent answer to the question, ** What 
was the * Buckshot War' of 1838-9?" It was called 
the ** Buckshot War'' because in one or more orders of 
the State Government calling upon the military com- 
panies to report at Harrisburg were instructions to 
them to be supplied with the regulation ball and buck- 
shot cartridge of that time. It consisted of one ball 
and three buckshot, and continued to be the regulation 
cartridge of the old smooth-bore musket tmtil after 
our Civil War began, when the rifled musket, in which 
only a single ball could be used, soon became a neces- 

There would have been no ** Buckshot War" and no 
serious trouble during the Legislature of 1838-9 but 
for the fact that after the full returns for Governor in 

48 Old Time Notes 

1838 were obtained, Porter was given a majority of 
some 6,000 on the face of the returns, and they were 
disputed in a revolutionary spirit, although when the 
time came for the inauguration of the new Governor 
no opposition of any kind was interposed and Porter 
was qualified with imposing ceremonies. Immediately 
after the official returns had been ascertained and given 
to the public, Thomas H. Burro wes, of Lancaster, then 
secretary of the commonwealth, and chairman of the 
State executive committee of the Anti-Masonic party, 
published an address to the people of the State declaring 
that if the returns presented had been fairly produced 
all good citizens should quietly submit to them, but he 
declared that ** there was such a strong probability of 
malpractice and fraud in the whole transaction that it 
is our duty peacefully to resist it and fully to expose it. *' 
If he had adhered to the proclaimed policy of peace- 
fully resisting and exposing alleged frauds there would 
have been no disturbance, but the concluding sentence 
of his address made it a revolutionary proclamation. 
It was in these words: ** But, fellow-citizens, until this 
investigation be fully made and fairly determined, let 
us treat the election of the 9th instant as if we had not 
been defeated, and in that attitude abide the result." 
Even this revolutionary deliverance would not have 
caused serious apprehension under ordinary circvmi- 
stances, but when it is remembered that Ritner, the 
defeated candidate for Governor, was in office and 
exercising all the powers of the government, and that 
Burrowes, who had inspired revolution, was his secre- 
tary of the commonwealth, and the official head of the 
party organization, the declaration was accepted as a 
defiantly avowed purpose to violently resist the inaugu- 
ration of Governor Porter and the admission of his 
friends to the control of the popular branch of the 


c_y£t--f; e-t'il-i^f ■J'' '1 

^..//^.U.. j?^,.y,,.,^ a4JLf 

Of Pennsylvania 49 

It must be remembered that this address of Mr. 
BtuTowes was dehvered to the people of Pennsylvania 
in the midst of the most intensely inflamed partisan 
bitterness. The contest had been entirely imexampled 
in vituperation and in the desperation of political 
methods on both sides, and what was accepted as a 
revolutionary declaration from Mr. Burrowes aroused 
the Democrats to the most intense and aggressive 
resistance. Not only was the governorship involved, 
but the control of the house of representatives became 
part of the dispute, as the opposing Democratic and 
Anti-Masonic candidates for the house from the county 
of Philadelphia both claimed to be elected, and the 
admission of either decided the political control of the 

Considering the opportunities for the perpetration 
of fraud in those primitive days, there was fearful pollu- 
tion of the ballot, and neither side could claim exemp- 
tion. In Htmtingdon Coimty, where Governor Porter 
resided, the vote for President in 1836 was 1,340 for Van 
Buren and 2,623 for Harrison. Two years later the vote 
for Governor was 2,761 for Porter and 3,637 for Ritner. 
Porter nearly doubled his party vote, chiefly because 
he was highly respected by the people of the county, 
who became well acquainted with him during his 
long service in the county offices, and while he cer- 
tainly received the votes of over a thousand of those 
politically opposed to him, the vote against him was 
increased a thousand over the vote cast for Harrison 
in 1836. This vote was obtained almost wholly by 
the return of nearly or quite one thousand majority 
for Ritner in Morris Township, where a convenient 
break in the canal was made the pretext for employing 
a large number of men on public works. 

Adams, the home of Stevens, also gave Porter 400 
more votes than were given the Democratic candidate 

so Old Time Notes 

for President two years before, but the vote for Ritner 
was more than double that given to Harrison. This 
vote was excused on the ground that a large number 
of men were employed on the Gettysburg Railroad. 
In Lycoming Coimty, the vote of Yotmgwomanstown, 
where there was another convenient break on the canal, 
returned 500 majority for Ritner, the majority being 
much more than the entire legal vote. This return 
was regarded as entirely too flagrant to be received and 
was rejected. In Philadelphia both sides gave a pretty 
free range to election frauds, but the Democrats fully 
held their own. So intense was the political bitterness 
of the time that party advantage was sought by leaders 
and excused by followers generally, regardless of the 
methods adopted to attain it. 

Philadelphia County was naturally Democratic. 
The vote for President in 1836 in the city proper, then 
limited by the two rivers east and west, and South and 
Vine Streets, gave Harrison 5,747 and Van Buren 3,028, 
while Philadelphia County gave Van Buren 7,975 to 
6,536 for Harrison. Philadelphia city elected the Anti- 
Masonic legislative ticket, and in Philadelphia County 
the Democrats claimed that their legislative ticket was 
chosen by about one thousand majority, while the Anti- 
Masons claimed that such frauds had been perpetrated 
that their ticket should be returned as successful. In 
those days the return judges of each election precinct 
met on Friday after the election to compute the returns 
and certify the result. The Democratic return judges 
of Philadelphia County unitedly computed and certified 
the election of all their candidates, and the Anti- 
Masonic judges manipulated the returns and certified 
that all their candidates were successful. 

These returns tmder the law were sent to the secre- 
tary of the commonwealth, who was Mr. Burrowes, 
and who was also chairman of the Anti-Masonic State 

Of Pennsylvania 51 

committee. It was his duty to present the returns to 
the Legislature at its meeting, but it soon became 
understood that he wotdd only present the Anti- 
Masonic returns from Philadelphia County, which, it 
was assumed, wotdd admit the Anti-Masonic repre- 
sentatives on a prima facie right to hold their seats. 
The Democrats well knew that if the Anti-Masonic 
delegation from Philadelphia Cotinty was admitted, 
thereby giving that party the absolute control of the 
house, there would be no possibility of successful con- 
test for the Democrats. It thus became a rather 
clearly defined issue, revolutionary action on the part of 
the Anti-Masons to hold the control of the government 
and of the poptdar branch of the Legislature, and of the 
Democrats to prevent their party from being defrauded 
out of their victory, that would give them possession of 
State authority. 

The worst element of Philadelphia politics was ap- 
pealed to, and open declarations were made that 
violence even to murder would be committed if neces- 
sary to prevent the Anti-Masons from grasping the 
power that had been denied them by the people. Many 
private conferences and even public meetings were 
held at which most thrilling revolutionary deliverances 
were given, and there is little doubt that there would 
have been riot and murder at Harrisburg when the 
Legislature convened had the Anti-Masons not finally 
determined to accept the election of Porter, and to 
permit his inauguration without interference. But 
that only scotched the revolutionary snake without 
killing it. The control of the house depended upon 
the admission of one of the two disputing delegations 
from Philadelphia County, and both sides avowed 
their determination to make it a fight to a finish. Bands 
of armed toughs in Philadelphia openly proclaimed 
their purpose to attend the meeting of the Legislature 

52 Old Time Notes 

and to resist, by riotous measures if necessary, the 
refusal of the house to seat the Democratic delegation 
from the county. That there was danger of riot and 
murder at Harrisburg there can be no doubt, and the 
riotous purpose of the leaders, who meant to fight and 
kill, was justified or excused by their party leaders 
because Secretary Burrowes had given notice by public 
address that he would treat the election as if it had not 
been held. 

Governor Ritner was brought face to face with a 
condition that threatened to plunge the Capital into 
anarchy, and instead of giving the assurance to the 
public that both the returns from Philadelphia County 
wotdd be transmitted to the house, leaving that body 
to exercise its supreme right as judge of the election 
and qualification of its members, which would have 
greatly, if not wholly, allayed the riotous sentiment, 
he simimoned a number of companies of militia to 
Harrisburg to protect the capital and officers of the 
government. He must have been very seriously alarmed 
at the threatened invasion of the capital by thousands 
of Philadelphians bent on revolutionary and probably 
murderous action, as he apjjealed to the President of 
the United States for military aid, but it was very 
properly refused. 

The militia companies ordered to Harrisburg were 
on hand, but they simply marched up the hill and then 
marched down again, as they really had no duties to 
perform, nor did they in any way restrain the Demo- 
cratic revolutionists. They ascertained that the battle 
for the Philadelphia County delegation could be fought 
out in the house without war, but the rioters remamed 
to see that their side had fair play, and they did not 
consider anything fair play but a victory for their side. 
The presence and movements of the militia were fear- 
fully ridiculed throughout the entire State, and the 

Of Pennsylvania S3 

whole movement would have been regarded as farcical 
but for the serious attitude in which it placed a great 
commonwealth as summoning its own militia to pre- 
serve order at the Capital for the inauguration of a 
Governor and the organization of a legislature. The 
troops remained for only a brief period, as the peaceful 
inauguration of Porter was conceded, and the Legis- 
lature asstimed to solve the problem presented to it 
in its own way. 

Secretary Burrowes in presenting the returns to the 
house, as is the duty of the secretary of the common- 
wealth at the beginning of each session, sent only the 
return of the Anti-Masonic candidates from the city of 
Philadelphia, but the Democrats were fortified with a 
certified copy of the return under the seal of the court, 
and that return was also presented by a member of 
the house. Both the delegations from Philadelphia 
County were present in the hall of the house when the 
clerk called that body to order, and the Democrats, 
with the aid of the Democratic representatives from 
Philadelphia County, proceeded to elect William Hop- 
kins speaker, while the Anti-Masons, with the aid of 
their Philadelphia Coimty delegation, elected Thomas 
S. Cunningham. The singular spectacle was thus pre- 
sented in the house of representatives of two speakers, 
and each having received what purported to be a ma- 
jority vote of the house. 

The possession of the chair became at once a ques- 
tion of might and not of right, and the Democrats, hav- 
ing an immense outside support with which it was very 
dangerous to trifle, managed to get Hopkins in the 
chair, while Cunningham, when he attempted to take 
his seat on the speaker's platform, was assisted down 
to the floor of the house by anything but gentle 
methods. All the legislative business was at an end, 
and the executive and State departments were closed. 

54 Old Time Notes 

The appearance of the military had little effect, as the 
mob was discreetly careful to avoid conflict with the 
troops. With the mob practically controlling the 
legislative halls inside, and the militia keeping peace 
outside, the house kept up the farcical contest between 
the two speakers imtil, ^ter a considerable period of 
disorder, Senator John Strohm, of Lancaster, an Anti- 
Mason of high character and intelligence, deserted his 
party and gave the casting vote in favor of recognizing 
the Hopkins house. 

That practically ended the controversy, as when an 
Anti-Masonic senate had recognized a Democratic 
house there was no longer any basis for continuing the 
contest. Strohm was bitterly denounced for what was 
regarded as an act of apostacy, but he lived long enough 
to be generally and earnestly commended by all good 
citizens of every political faith for having had the 
courage to be honest, at the expense of party favor, in 
the severest crisis that ever confronted the State. 
Stevens moved to Lancaster some years thereafter, 
and I remember seeing him there in 1851 when I was 
a delegate to the Whig State convention, and aided in 
nominating John Strohm as the Whig candidate for 
canal commissioner. I met Stevens soon after the 
convention adjourned, and asked him how he regarded 
the nomination of Strohm. He answered in his curt, 
grim way : '' He's our candidate now and I forgive him. " 
He was in Congress during the Mexican War, and one 
of the thirteen Whigs of the body who had the courage 
to vote against an appropriation to the army in Mexico 
because the act began by declaring that **we are at 
war by the act of Mexico.** The Whigs moved to 
strike the offensive, and as they believed untrue, state- 
ment from the bill, but were defeated by a party vote, 
and when they had to meet the question of voting for 
the bill containing the false statement of historical 

Of Pennsylvania 55 

facts, or vote against appropriating money for the 
army, all but thirteen supported the measure, but John 
Strohm believed it to be imtrue, and he resolutely voted 
against the bill. He lived to a ripe old age, and died 
tiniversally beloved by his people. 

It was during this struggle at Harrisburg that an 
interesting episode occurred in which Thomas H. Bur- 
rowes, Thaddeus Stevens, and Charles B. Penrose were 
the actors. Penrose was a member of the senate from 
Ctimberland Cotmty, Burrowes was secretary of the 
commonwealth, and Stevens was canal commissioner. 
They were all in the senate chamber along with a great 
crowd one evening during the most angry period of the 
"Buckshot War" trouble. A number of men were 
there known to be of a riotous character, and one of 
them jumped on a senatorial desk and declared : " We 
are in the midst of a revolution, bloodless as yet," and 
almost immediately afterward the lights in the senate 
were put out by the mob. Stevens, Penrose and Bur- 
rowes at once retreated into a little committee room 
that was connected with the senate chamber, hoisted 
a window and jtimped out to the street, some six or 
eight feet below. It is qtiite likely that they did a very 
wise thing, as they were regarded as the active leaders 
in the political efforts to prevent the Democrats from 
reaping the fruits of their victory. Penrose was 
speaker of the senate, and was one of the ablest of 
the political leaders of any party in the State. He was 
ambitious to win a cabinet position tinder Harrison 
and was very strongly supported for it, as was Josiah 
Randall, father of Samuel J. Randall, then a leading 
Whig or Anti-Mason, but Pennsylvania was denied a 
position in the cabinet, and Penrose was appointed to 
the position of Solicitor of the Treasury. He resigned 
his seat in the senate to accept the Washington office, 
and afterwards removed to Philadelphia, the place of 

56 Old Time Notes 

his birth, where he was again elected to the senate in 
1856, and died while a member of that body. He was 
the grandfather of our present United States Senator, 
Boies Penrose, whose political ambition and ability 
come honestly from his distinguished ancestor. 


•^-/e-,,fA*c^,_AJ. /^^e-™^'' 

Of Pennsylvania 57 


Pennsylvania with $40,000,000 of Debt was Unable to Pay Interest in 
1 84 1 — Loans Were Authorized but Not Taken — For Months the 
Cloud of Repudiation Hung Over Our Great State — Porter Rescued 
It by a Forced Loan from the Banks Authorizing Them to Issue 
the $3,000,000 Needed by the State in Relief Notes — The State 
Credit was Saved by the Courage and Ability of Porter. 

ONE of the most interesting chapters in the varied 
annals of our great Commonwealth is that pre- 
senting the story of the desperate struggle made 
in 1840-41 to prevent the State from being plimged 
into the maelstrom of open repudiation. Those who 
know only of Pennsylvania's history during the pres- 
ent generation can have no just conception of the 
terrible prostration of industry, commerce and trade 
that gradually followed the financial revulsion of 1837. 
There were then few private corporations in the State 
outside of the banks, and, with the exception of the brief 
period of the Ritner administration, they were not 
regarded with favor. The Democrats of that day 
were more or less earnestly opposed to all banking 
institutions, and constantly clamored for an utterly 
impossible specie currency. 

Banks were indispensable to the business of the State, 
and many were chartered from time to time, but usually 
under most exacting conditions. All of them were 
organized under special charters varying in their fran- 
chises and responsibilities, and a large portion of them 
were what came to be known as ''wild cat'* banking 
institutions. A large majority of the country banks 
were tmder par, varying from i to 10 per cent., ^ and 

58 Old Time Notes 

utter failures of banks were quite common. The land 
of the farmers was taxed because there were no great 
corporations from which to demand tribute for the 
support of the State, and as the debt increased and the 
ability of the people to pay diminished tmder the 
severe strain of the financial revulsion that continued 
'from '37 to *42, the financial condition of the State grew 
worse and worse until finally in 1841 there was very 
general poptdar clamor for open repudiation. 
' Our system of internal improvements, beginning at 
turnpikes and ending with the main line of canal and 
railroad between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, and 
other canals, began as early as 1820, when the debt of 
the State was $530,000. The revenues that year were 
$440,000, and the expenditures $453,000. Public 
sentiment was imperative in demanding the rapid 
prosecution of our public improvements, as nearly 
every section of the State was directly benefited by 
the main line and the various canals. The result 
was that the debt steadily and rapidly acctimulated 
until in 1840 the funded debt of the State reached 
$36,168,528.10, and it continued to increase until 
1852, when it reached the high- water mark of $41,- 

On a large portion of this debt 6 per cent, interest 

was paid in lawful money, then confined to gold and 
silver. There was but little specie in circulation even 
before the suspension of the banks after the crisis of 
■^1837. Silver dollars were then worth a premium, and 
were entirely withdrawn. One and two dollar bills 
were issued by the banks, and generally kept in circu- 
lation tmtil it was almost impossible to distinguish 
what bank had issued them, and the final destruction of 
such notes was a source of large profit to the bank. 
The silver currency in circulation was almost wholly 
Spanish coins of 6^ cents, commonly called *'fips," 12^ 

I -♦ 

Of Pennsylvania 59 

cent pieces, commonly called '* levies, * ' and a coin some- 
what like our 25 cents, that passed freely as a quarter, 
although intrinsically worth less, and many of them 
were worn so smooth that it was impossible to make 
out any inscription. 

The life of the people generally throughout the State 
was one of severe economy, and they were illy prepared 
to maintain their great debt when industry and trade 
were terribly prostrated. Governor Ritner retired 
from office within a year after the revulsion began, and 
before it had been seriously felt throughout the State. 
When Gk)vemor Porter sucpeeded him he found that" 
the grave problem before him was how to maintain 
the credit of the Commonwealth. He was inaugurated 
on the third Tuesday of January, 1839, and the third 
act passed by the Legislature and presented to him 
for approval was a loan bill of $1,200,000 to be applied 
first to the payment of interest on the public debt, next 
to such claims due on account of internal improvements, 
with the residue to any deficit in the internal improve- 
ment ftmd, and on the 30th day of January he was called 
to sign another act of the Legislature authorizing a loan 
of $602,250 to be applied to the payment of the interest 
on the pubUc debt. This was a temporary loan 
obviously passed because there were grave doubts 
about the success of the larger loan approved only a 
week before, and the temporary loan was to be repaid 
out of the proceeds of the permanent loan when real- 
ized. It happened, however, that the loan was not 
realized, and thus debt was being piled upon debt with 
the sources of payment diminished. 

It was not difficult for the Legislature to pass loan 
bills, but it was soon discovered that taking the horse 
to the water was an easy thing, but to make him drink 
was an entirely different proposition. The credit of 
the Commonwealth was practically exhatisted, and 

6o Old Time Notes 

loans could not be negotiated. It was finally decided 
that as the banks were at the mercy of the State, all of 
them having suspended specie payments, a heavy hand 
could be laid upon them, and force them to give finan- 
cial aid to the State. By an act approved April 3, 

1840, it was provided that all the banks of the State 
must resimie specie payments on the 15th of January, 

1 84 1, and pay all their liabilities in gold or silver coin 
** under the penalty of forfeiture of their charters, to 
be declared forfeited as hereinafter provided of any 
and all banks refusing to do so.'* The same section 
legalized the suspension until the time fixed for resump- 
tion. Detailed provisions were then made for the 
forfeiture and closing up of all the banks which failed 
to resume according to the statute. 

In consideration of the State legalizing the suspension 
of the banks until April, 1841, they were required to 
loan to the Commonwealth in proportion to their 
capital, within the period of one year, by instalments 
in such sums and at such times as the wants of the 
State required, not exceeding in the whole the sum of 
$3,000,000 at interest not exceeding 5 per cent., and 
the amount of the loan anticipated by this act was to 
be appropriated by the Legislature to the payment of 
the interest on the debt, and to such other purposes as 
the Legislature deemed proper. In accordance with 
that law the Legislature by an act approved June 1 1 , 

1840, appropriated money to all the various improve- 
ments then in progress in the State. 

The banks were thus held up and invited to stand 
and deliver the money needed by the State, but instead 
of financial conditions improving they continued to grow 
worse and worse until the meeting of the Legislature in 

1841, when the treasury was without means to pay the 
interest on the debt, public sentiment was highly in- 
flamed against the cost of the improvements which the 

of Pennsylvania 6i 

people had imperiously demanded, and repudiation 
was very generally accepted solely on the assumption 
that increased taxation could not be borne, and that 
it was impossible for the great State of Pennsvlvania 
to maintain her credit. There were strong advocates 
of repudiation in the Legislature. Forttinately Gover- 
nor Porter stood resolutely in favor of maintaining the 
honor of the Commonwealth, and he was ably supported 
by such well-known Democratic leaders of that day as 
James X. McLanahan, then senator from Franklin, 
who made a heroic and masterly appeal for maintaining 
the honor of the State at any cost, and William F. John- 
ston, later Governor, and Hendrick B. Wright, were 
among the most active supporters of State credit, and 
Johnston was generally regarded as the author of the 
act that finally saved Pennsylvania from ineffaceable 

When the Legislature met there was intense anxiety 
in business circles, and especially in Philadelphia, to 
know the contents of Governor Porter's message. The 
magnetic telegraph was then unknown, and railroad 
speed rarely exceeded ten miles an hour, as all the rail- 
way lines were then constructed with wooden strips 
laid on the ties and little more than heavy strap iron 
spiked down upon the wood. The anxiety to get the 
message from Harrisburg to Philadelphia led to what 
was regarded as the greatest railroad achievement of 
that day. The best locomotive was selected, put in 
complete condition, and was fired up all ready to start 
when the message was delivered, and it was brought 
through to Philadelphia in five hours. It was heralded 
over the whole country as indicating most marvelous 
progress in railroad development that an engine could 
be nm continuously for five hours at the rate of twenty 
miles an hour. 

The tone of the message was all that the friends of 

62 Old Time Notes 

State faith cotdd have desired. It did much to inspire 
those who were earnestly in favor of paying the State 
interest, and it halted many who were strongly inclined 
to fall in with the repudiation procession. The third 
act passed by the new Legislature provided for a loan 
of $800,000 at a rate of interest not exceeding 6 per 
cent. **to be specifically appropriated to the interest 
on the public debt falling due on the ist of February 
next." The Legislature had done its part in authoriz- 
ing the loan, but $3,000,000 of debt had accumulated 
in the face of all the various actions employed by the 
Legislature to force loans to the State. The 6 per cent, 
securities payable in coin, that was then the only legal 
tender, sold for little more than half their face value, and 
of course it was impossible to obtain the needed $3,000,- 
000 on any sound business basis. Banks had been 
tried by the previous Legislature by threats of forfeiture 
of charter to compel them to supply the treasury with 
needed money, but the measure failed, and it was not 
possible for the Legislature to attempt to enforce the 
penalty of forfeiture upon the banks which failed to 
resimie in April, 1 841, as a single bank in Pittsburg was 
the only one in the State that had not suspended, 
and its circulation was but limited. To have de- 
stroyed the banks by forfeiture of charter would have 
only multiplied misery and brought utter financial 

The problem was finally solved by an elaborate act 
passed by the Legislature on the 30th of April, 1841, 
that was so violent in its disregard of all constitutional 
limitations that Governor Porter, although himself 
earnestly desiring to sustain the credit of the State, 
vetoed the bill. He vetoed it, however, with the ftill 
knowledge that it would be passed over his veto in 
both branches, and was doubtless quite willing that it 
should be done, as there was no other possible way of 

Of Pennsylvania 63 

providing means for the payment of State interest and 
the indebtedness for public improvements. 

The State simply made use of all banks to furnish 
$3,100,000 to the Treasury, and authorized the banks 
to issue in proportion to their capital, and in addition 
to their regular circulation, a special currency of 
denominations of one, two and five dollars, and only 
one-fourth to be of the highest denomination, for the 
redemption of which, in addition to the responsibility 
of the banks, the State pledged its faith, and these 
notes were made fiat money to the extent of being 
receivable for all dues to the Commonwealth and to 
the banks. They were commonly known as ''relief 
notes,*' and on their face specially declared their dis- 
tinctive quality. A number of the banks which issued 
these notes failed during the decade in which the relief 
notes were in circulation, and in case of a bank failure 
when the regular notes of the bank were worthless the 
relief notes passed as currency because the State was 
responsible for their redemption. 

As the banks were utterly hopeless there was every 
reason why they should comply with this demand of the 
State and the State made it to their interest to do so 
by allowing them simply to manufacture money and 
loan it to the Commonwealth. As these relief notes 
were furnished to the State by the banks, they received 
certificates of indebtedness on which they were paid i 
per cent, interest, but they also received release from 
tax on stock and dividends, thus making it a most 
profitable operation for the banks. 

This extraordinary measiu-e by which a loan of 
$3,100,000 was obtained for the State by simply manu- 
facturing that amount of circulating notes through the 
medium of the banks saved the credit of Pennsylvania, 
and it was the only way by which the money could 
have been obtained. It was entirely without warrant 

64 Old Time Notes 

under the Constitution, and under all ordinary con- 
ditions would have been regarded as most reckless 
financial legislation, but it served the great purpose in 
view, and the repudiation feeling speedily died out, 
and even people who were most clamorous for repudi- 
ating the interest on the State debt were glad to learn 
that the honor of Pennsylvania had been preserved 
and without excessive taxation upon the people. 

The money to pay the interest and other indebtedness 
of the State was really created out of nothing. The 
notes were printed, signed, made receivable for debts 
to the State and to the banks, and the faith of both the 
banks and the State was pledged for their ultimate 
redemption. Some of the unfinished public improve- 
ments were necessarily halted, but as soon as the 
financial condition improved they were speedily re- 
sumed, and the entire great network of canals was 
fully completed. The only additional source of reve- 
nue was an income tax provided for in the same bill 
taxing persons, trades and professions according to 
their revenues, and levying heavy taxes on merchants 
and other vendors, including liquor licenses. The 
same act appropriated $3,100,000 to various indebted- 
ness of the State and started it with a clean sheet. The 
fearful peril of repudiation had perished before the 
heroic efforts of Governor Porter and a few brave men 
in both parties, and no one took pause to inquire to 
what extent the limitations of the fundamental law had 
been invaded. It was enough to know that Pennsyl- 
vania had escaped a blistering stain upon her escutch- 
eon, and it is only just to say that, but for the courage, 
patriotism and fidelity of David R. Porter, Pennsyl- 
vania would have been a colossal suicide in 1841. 

Contrast the position of the State of Pennsylvania in 
1 84 1 with her position to-day. The population is now 
double that of the entire United States when the Re- 

Of Pennsylvania 


public was foiinded, and her annual revenue and 
balance in the State treasury to-day nearly equal the 
entire debt of the State in 1841 that brought us to the 
very verge of repudiation. We now appropriate more 
for pubUc schools alone than was ever expended in any 
one year under our great internal improvement system 
of the olden times, and ten times as much as the entire 
revenues of the State three-quarters of a century ago. 
All this is accomplished with taxation wholly removed 
from real estate for State purposes, and the entire debt 
that was once nearly $41,000,000 has been practically 
paid, the securities in the sinking fimd being nearly 
sufficient to liquidate the last dollar of public debt. 
Such is the wonderful progress made in Pennsylvania 
since the cloud of repudiation was dispelled in 1841. 

66 Old Time Notes 


Federalism and Anti-Masonry Having Perished, the Whig Party Had 
Its Birth in 1834 — Senator James L. Gillis of Ridgway Tried for 
the Murder of Morgan — First Whig National Convention Held at 
Harrisburg in 1839 — The Harrison Hard Cider and Log Cabin 
Contest — The First National Convention Ever Held Was by the 
Anti-Masons in 1830 — The First Whig Triumph in 1840. 

THE epoch that was inaugurated in Pennsylvania 
by the revolution of 1838 extended even to the 
creation of a new party that was destined to 
play a very important part in the politics of both 
State and nation. The battle for Ritner in 1838 was 
the last that was made by the Anti-Masons in Penn- 
sylvania. That party was an accidental creation to 
meet the necessity of an opposition political organiza- 
tion. Federalism was practically eliminated from the 
political struggles of the country, and the way was 
open to crystallize a very widely diffused sentiment 
then cherished against all secret societies, and especi- 
ally the Masonic fraternity. Archbishop Hughes, the 
ablest Catholic prelate this country has produced, 
had done much to prepare the public mind in New 
York for aggressive hostility to secret organizations, 
and he turned the scale in favor of the election of 
William H. Seward as Governor in 1838, the same 
year that Ritner was defeated. The party had then 
existed for a full decade, and Ritner was the candi- 
date for Governor in four contests in which it was 
the only organized opposition to Democracy. 

The Anti- Masonic party would probably never have 
reached its formidable proportions but for the fact that 
in 1826, just when its organization had been effected, 

Of Pennsylvania 67 

William Morgan, a citizen of western New York, 
mysteriously disappeared, and a very plausible cir- 
cumstantial story was given to the public by the Anti- 
Masonic leaders that he had been mtirdered by the 
Masons in northwestern New York for having divulged 
the secrets of the order. A body in such advanced 
stage of decomposition as to make positive recognition 
impossible, was found some time afterward and de- 
clared to be the body of Morgan, although the identity 
was vigorously disputed. It was told of Thurlow 
Weed, the Anti-Masonic leader of New York, that 
when the identity of the Morgan body was discussed 
with him by some of his political friends, he said: 
"Well, it's a good enough Morgan for our pur- 

Intense personal and political bitterness was en- 
gendered by the discussion of the alleged killing of Mor- 
gan. Finally several prominent Masons were indicted 
for mtirder, and among them was James L. Gillis, who 
afterward attained considerable prominence in Penn- 
sylvania politics. After having served creditably as a 
soldier in the second war with England and retiring with 
promotion, he located at Ridgway, then in the north- 
west wilderness of Jefferson Coimty, and became the 
agent of the large Ridgway estate in that section owned 
by a prominent Philadelphia family. He served twice 
in the house of representatives, one term in the senate, 
and later one term in Congress. I became well ac- 
quainted with him when he was a member of the senate, 
where he was a universal favorite, and I more than 
once heard him tell the story of his long journey 
through an almost imbroken wilderness from Ridgway 
to New Yorji to stand his trial for murder. He did not 
wiait to be summoned by requisition, but when in- 
formed of the indictment he volimtarily threaded his 
way through the forests, requiring nearly a week's 

68 Old Time Notes 

jotimey, to appear before a jury of his peers where he 
was promptly acquitted as were his associates. 

He carved out the new county of Elk, made Ridgway, 
his home, the coimty seat, and was for a full generation 
altogether the most influential citizen of that region. 
He was a man of imposing presence, heroic in every 
fibre, sternly honest and most delightful in compan- 
ionship. I have heard him say that it was not an 
tmcommon thing in the very early days to stand in 
front of his home in Ridgway and see the panther cross 
the road almost within gunshot of his house. 

As the banner of An ti- Masonry had summoned the 
opposition to Democracy after the death of Federalism, 
so the Whig banner summoned the opposition after the 
death of Anti-Masonry in 1838. The Whig party had 
a straggling organization, beginning in 1834, and its 
national leaders, known as National Republicans, 
including some of the ablest men of the Senate, who 
had a final breach with Jackson, adopted the party 
name of Whig. Anti-Masonic candidates were nomi- 
nated for a year or two after 1838, but they received 
only a few himdred votes. In December, 1839, the 
Whigs held the first National convention at Harris- 
burg to name national candidates for the contest of 
1840, when Harrison and Tyler were elected, and 
thenceforth the Whig party absorbed the entire oppo- 
sition to the Democracy that had been baptized by 

The new party, like the Anti-Masonic party that pre- 
ceded it, had a brief career, but in that time it elected 
two Governors in Pennsylvania and two Presidents of 
the United States. In 1841 Governor Porter was 
re-elected over John Banks, the Whig candidate, by a 
majority of 23,000, but soon after he had entered upon 
his second term he became estranged from a consider- 
able portion of the leaders of his party, and when he 

I -^ 

Of Pennsylvania 69 

retired, in 1845, he was not in full political fellowship 
with his old-time friends. 

The Democratic Legislature of 1842 passed a con- 
gressional apportionment on the basis of the new census 
returns, but Porter vetoed it ostensibly on the ground 
of injustice to the majority party of the State, although 
it was a Democratic measure, but in point of fact he 
was incensed at the deliberate shaping of the new 
congressional districts to make it impossible for two 
special friends of the Governor— John Snyder, of 
Union, and A. Porter Wilson, of Himtingdon — ^to be 
elected to Congress. 

The Legislature adjourned without passing another 
apportionment bill, and the Whigs held elections in 
some of the congressional districts in the fall of '42 
in which but few Democrats participated, and no one 
even claimed a seat on the returns of that year. In the 
session of 1843 a new district apportionment was passed 
in which Snyder and Wilson were given Democratic 
districts, but the irony of fate made the strange sequel 
of both of them having been twice nominated and twice 
defeated in the districts specially fashioned for them. 
A full congressional delegation was elected in October, 
1843, i^ ample time for the members to take their seats 
at the opening of the new Congress in December. 

The revolution in favor of popular power steadily 
advanced until in 1843 the canal commissioners were 
made elective, and William B. Foster, Jesse Miller and 
James Clark were elected by about 15,000 majority. 
Foster's nomination and election was a thorn in the 
side of the men who had charge of our main line and 
other public improvements. The management of these 
works had become grossly corrupted, and especially on 
the portage road crossing the AUeghenies, where, as was 
proven on one occasion, it was at times common for a 
contractor ftxmishing wood for locomotives and engines 

7o Old Time Notes 

to take the same wood from station to station, and have 
it ranked, measured and paid for half a dozen times. 

Foster was a man of great ability, but extremely 
quiet and unassuming in manner, and the men on our 
pubUc works had very little conception of his character 
until he became the head of the canal board, as he was 
nominated and elected for the term of three years, with 
Miller for two years and Clark for one. 

He had a desperate undertaking, as the State railroads 
and canals extended to almost everv section of the 
State, and his two associates on the canal board were 
not at all inclined to revolution arv^ reform in what was 
deemed political interests of the State. He made no 
issue with any of his associates, but quietly and earn- 
estly strove to inaugurate better administration in 
which he w^as measurablv successful. 

In 1846, when his successor was to be chosen, the 
leaders did not dare depose him, although many of the 
more audacious canal plunderers made a desperate 
battle for the nomination of Thomas J. Power, of 
Beaver, who was, however, defeated by a large vote. 
When the Whig convention met, there were several 
candidates named for the position, as it was believed 
that the Democrats would not give a hearty support 
to Foster, and it was finally deemed exjjcdient to nomi- 
nate James Power, brother of the defeated Democratic 
candidate, as the man who could command the dis- 
satisfied Democratic vote which supported the brother 
of the Whig candidate. 

The result was the defeat of Foster and the election 
of Power by a majority of about 9,000, and the new Whig 
canal commissioner imited with one of his Democratic 
associates to give the patronage of the canal board 
almost wholly to the Democrats who had opposed 
Foster's nomination and election. 

Mr. Foster's public services were so highly appreciated 

Of Pennsylvania 71 

by the best men of the State that he was, soon after his 
defeat for canal commissioner, called to the important 
position of first assistant engineer and later and then 
only vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Com- 
pany, that had been chartered the same year that 
Foster had suffered his defeat. He rendered very 
great service to the struggling Pennsylvania corpora- 
tion, but died a few years ^ter he had assumed his new 
position. He was not in any sense a politician, had no 
taste for political management, and was resolutely 
averse to corruption either in politics or public trust, 
and his early death was profoundly lamented. 

The political conditions of Pennsylvania were in a 
transition state when the reform Constitution of 1838 
was adopted. The Anti-Masons had made their last 
rally for the re-election of Ritner, and they had the 
co-operation of a considerable number of Whigs who 
were unwilling to accept the organization and faith of 
the Anti-Masons. Among these were some high-class 
Masons of whom the late Joseph R. Chandler, one of 
the prominent Whig editors of the country, was recog- 
nized as the leader. A number of them published an 
address over their own signatures disavowing the Anti- 
Masonic features of the opposition to Democracy, and 
giving their reasons why they supported Ritner in pref- 
erence to the Democratic candidate. In the national 
contest of 1836 Van Buren defeated Harrison in Pennsyl- 
vania by the small majority of 4,364, and Porter's ma- 
jority over Ritner was only a thousand greater. 

The reform Constitution was adopted by the slender 
majority of 1,212, out of a poll of 225,000, and the 
majorities given in the different counties indicated an 
utter disregard of partisan sentiment in voting for and 
against the measure. Adams County gave 300 votes 
for it and 4,420 against it; Armstrong gave 2,597 for 
it and 949 against it; Bradford gave 4,116 for it and 

72 Old Time Notes 

i88 against it; Butler gave 2,383 for it, with 712 in the 
negative; Crawford gave 3,344 for it to 517 against it; 
Erie gave 3,175 for it, with 454 against it; Greene gave 
2,399 for it and 74 against it; Lancaster gave 2,355 for 
it and 10,059 against it; Lebanon gave 807 for it and 
2,503 against it; Somerset gave 556 for it and 2,029 
against it; Susquehanna gave 2,085 for it to 412 against 
it, and. Tioga gave 1,974 for it and 16 against it, while 
Union gave 452 for it to 3,185 against it, and York gave 
1,233 for it and 5,500 against it. It will be seen that 
some of the strongest Anti-Masonic counties along with 
some of the strongest Democratic coimties voted largely 
against the new Constitution. 

The vital feature of the reform Constitution of 1838 
was the re^mption of power by the people in taking 
from the ^xe■cutive nearly all his patronage, and making 
most offices elective. It was not a clean sweep, as it 
left associate judges, district attorneys and the 
important offices of auditor general and surveyor 
general to be appointed by the Executive, but the start 
made by the new fundamental law rapidly extended 
popular power until finally every office in the State, 
excepting the Governor's cabinet and some inspectors, 
who could not be made to represent any particular con- 
stituency, were made elective, including the judges 
themselves in 185 1. 

The new Whig party rapidly gathered into its fold 
all the elements of opposition to the Democracy, and 
the severe financial and industrial depression that 
began in 1837 and continued for four years, rapidly 
increased its nimibers. In 1839 there was universal 
confidence among the leaders of the opposition to 
President Van Buren that he could be defeated in 1 840 
if the opposing elements could be united, and it was 
obvious to all that that union could be effected only 
under the Whig organization. 

Of Pennsylvania 73 

Pennsylvania was regarded as the battleground, and 
the Whigs, under the lead of such men as Josiah Randall, 
Joseph R. Chandler, Morton McMichael and others, 
and the Anti-Masons, under the lead of Stevens, Pen- 
rose and Burrowes, made earnest efforts to consolidate 
the opposition elements, and they succeeded in getting 
the Whig leaders of the coimtry to unite in a call for a 
Whig National convention to be held at Harrisburg in 
December, 1839, nearly a full year before the Presi- 
dential election. 

It was the first fully representative national political 
convention that had ever been held. The Anti-Masons 
held the first national convention in Philadelphia in 
1830, two years before the Presidential election, but 
adjourned to meet later in Baltimore, when they nomi- 
nated William Wirt for President and Amos EUmaker 
for Vice-President. The Democrats followed in 1835, 
when they nominated Van Buren in the first Demo- 
cratic National convention in Baltimore on the 20th 
of May, being a year and a half before the election, but 
the convention system was accepted with great reluct- 
ance by the Democrats, and while there were 600 dele- 
gates in attendance, more than half of them were from 
Maryland alone. 

The meeting of the Whig National convention in 
this State in 1839 made Pennsylvania the central figure 
of the great political revolution that was about to be 
wrought. The greatest deliberation was displayed in 
selecting a candidate. The individal preference of a 
majority of the delegates was for Henry Clay, then the 
acknowledged leader of the opposition, but he was a 
Royal Arch Mason and that made him an impossible 
candidate, as a very large portion of the opposition 
elements was made up of men who had been desperately 
fighting Masonry for a full decade. 

Harrison had been both a soldier and Senator, hero 

74 Old Time Notes 

and statesman, and Stevens, who was one of the active 
factors of the convention, won out in the nomination of 
Harrison, only to be denied a promised seat in the 
cabinet after Harrison became President. The battle 
in Pennsylvania was a roystering rollicking affair on 
the part of the Whigs with the Democrats on the de- 
fensive at every point, and Harrison carried the State 
by a majority of 349, as was ascertained some three 
weeks after the election. 

The very small majority by which Harrison won in 
Pennsylvania clearly indicated that while the State 
was not for Van Buren it could not be classed as a Whig 
State, as was demonstrated by Democratic success over 
the Whigs in every contest during the existence of the 
Whig party, with the exception of 1846 and 1848, 
when Democratic divisions gave the Whigs the victory. 

Of Pennsylvania 75 


Thomas, a Welsh Miner, Settled in the Lehigh Region and the First Man 
to Manufacture Anthracite Iron — His Great Lead in the Iron 
Development of Pennsylvania — Known and Revered as **Pap" 
Thomas until he Died at the Age of Eighty-eight — Packer 
Developed the Transportation System of the Lehigh Valley — A 
Journeyman Carpenter, he Became the most Successful and 
Richest of our Railway Presidents in his Day — Packer's Guber- 
natorial Contest of 1869 — His Defeat by a Small Majority, and 
by his Friends it was Charged to Fraud. 

FROM 1840 to 1844 there was nothing specially 
eventful in the political records of Pennsylva- 
nia. Porter's re-election in 1 841 by a very 
large majority established the ascendancy of the Dem- 
ocrats of the State, and the Whigs made no vital effort 
to win until 1844, when they followed the tall plume of 
Henry Clay with a devotion entirely imexampled in the 
history of American politics, and thousands of them 
shed scalding tears over his defeat, but a new industrial 
era was suddenly developed by the successful manufac- 
ture of iron with anthracite coal. 

There had been a great struggle to introduce anthra- 
cite coal for domestic purposes, but most of those who 
first attempted it abandoned it in despair. The preju- 
dices against it gradually disappeared as the people 
came to imderstand how to use it to obtain the best 
results, and when it was finally demonstrated, after 
many unsuccessful experiments, that iron could be 
made with hard coal the Lehigh region received a won- 
derful impetus, and speedily developed the cotmtless 
millions of wealth which have been poured out of that 
section during the last half century. 

76 Old Time Notes 

This development was largely due to two men, one of 
whom mastered the production of anthracite iron and 
the other mastered the question of the wealth of the 
Lehigh reaching the markets of the coimtry. These 
men were David Thomas and Asa Packer. 

David Thomas, for many years known in the Lehigh 
region only as *'Pap'* Thomas, was bom in Wales, 
November 3, 1794, and died in Catasauqua at the ripe 
age of 88 years, with his home surroimded by matchless 
monuments of his genius in the great iron establish- 
ments of the Crane and Catasauqua corporations. 

It was my fortime to be his guest in i860, when I was 
in charge of the Lincoln campaign in Pennsylvania, and 
spent a most delightful and instructive night with him. 
He was then approaching the patriarchal age, and was 
actively engaged in the direction of his great enter- 
prises. He was a man of fine presence, with his unusual 
natural forces polished and ripened by study and ex- 
perience rather than by education in the schools, and 
he was so unassuming and modest in all things relating 
to himself that it was somewhat difficult to get from 
him the inner story of his life. 

He was then the most widely known and certainly 
one of the most beloved of all the men in the Lehigh 
region, and his home was a sanctuary of generous 

He had experience in Wales in his early life as a 
miner and as a worker in iron establishments. He 
emigrated to this country in 1839, when just in the full 
vigor of middle life, and located in the heart of the iron 
region of the Lehigh Valley. He gave exhaustive 
study to everything relating to the manufacture of 
iron, and he soon became satisfied that anthracite coal 
could be successfully employed for the manufacture of 
iron. When it became known in the Lehigh region that 
he was experimenting with a view to mantifacturing 

Of Pennsylvania 77 

anthracite iron as a commercial enterprise, he was 
roimdly ridictded by all his neighbors. He told me 
that he had many discussions on the subject with his 
family physician, who was one of the most intelligent 
men of the neighborhood, and he made exhaustive efforts 
to induce Mr. Thomas to abandon what the doctor re- 
garded as an utterly tmpromising phantom. 

Just before Mr. Thomas had completed his experi- 
mental works which succeeded in establishing the 
feasibility of producing anthracite iron as a commercial 
success, he expressed to his doctor his entire confidence 
in the theory, to which the doctor curtly answered: 
" I will obligate myself to eat all the iron you make with 
anthracite coal.'' 

When he had thoroughly mastered the method of 
producing anthracite iron, and it became imderstood 
that it would be manufactured with much greater profit 
than charcoal iron, he was able to command any 
amount of capital he needed, and began by building 
the furnaces which developed into the great Lehigh 
Crane Iron Company. He conducted these furnaces 
for nearly a decade when he withdrew from the Crane 
Company, and with the several sons who had grown up, 
and a few other friends, he organized the Thomas Iron 
Company, that for many years was known as not only 
the largest but the most successful of the iron estabUsh- 
ments in Pennsylvania. 

In addition to the Thomas Company, which he largely 
owned, he became connected with the Catasauqua 
Manufacturing Company, and established one of the 
largest rolling mills in the State. He proved himself 
altogether the most capable iron man in the country, 
and his furnaces and mills were regarded by all as 
models in method and management. It was his genius 
that added the powerful blowing engine to the work- 
ing of blast furnaces which added immensely to their 

78 Old Time Notes 

producing capacity and the reduction of the cost of 

He was a very close observer of iron interests in 
every part of the country and of the world, and his 
judgment was next to infallible when he had studied 
any problem relating to that great industry and 
reached his conclusion. A few years before his death 
he saw that the iron interests of Pennsylvania must at 
no very distant day meet with very dangerous com- 
petition from the iron centers of the South. He and 
Asa Packer visited Birmingham and other iron centers 
in Alabama when the iron business there was in its 
infancy, and he was so fully convinced of the proba- 
bility of the cheaper production of iron in Alabama 
that he invested in iron lands, not with a view of devel- 
oping them himself, for he had then passed the period 
of active business life, but because he believed that his 
sons and other successors would eventually turn to the 
sunny South as the most promising of the iron fields of 
the cotmtry. 

He was not mistaken in his judgment, for to-day 
Birmingham produces iron cheaper than it can be pro- 
duced any place in this country or in any other country 
of the world, and the great iron establishments which 
stood as the crowning monuments to Mr. Thomas' 
genius at the time of his death have passed their season 
of prosperity and are no longer pointed to as among 
the most successful iron enterprises of the New World. 
He died at his home in Catasauqua on the 20th of 
June, 1882, and was more widely lamented than any 
other citizen of the Lehigh Valley. 

Asa Packer was bom at Croton, Conn., December 29, 
1806, and received only the very ordinary rural school 
education of that time. When sixteen years of age he 
journeyed westward to Susquehanna County, many 
of whose residents were from " the land of steady 

Of Pennsylvania 79 

habits," and his entire worldly possessions were tied 
up in a bandanna handkerchief. 

He first apprenticed himself to leam the carpenter's 
trade, but he was a close and intelligent observer, tire- 
less in industry, and he was among the first to appre- 
ciate the possibilities in developing the wealth of the 
iron and coal of that region. In 1832 he settled at 
Mauch Chtmk, and soon became interested in the de- 
velopment of coal lands, and that necessarily led to 
the development of means for getting the coal to 
market. Early in the fifties he conceived the scheme 
of constructing the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and he 
devoted many years of the most exhaustive labor, and 
often under the severest possible strain, to consiunmate 
that great enterprise. 

I remember meeting him many times at the Mer- 
chants' Hotel, Philadelphia, after the financial revulsion 
of 1857, when he was harassed almost beyond endur- 
ance by the difficulties he encoimtered in maintaining 
the credit to prosecute his pet enterprises. 

Few men could have maintained the contest as he 
did under the severest discouragements, but he was 
resolute in purpose, and I heard him even in the darkest 
days of his financial troubles predict that the Lehigh 
Valley Railroad, when completed, and its resources 
under fair development, would be the most successful 
railroad enterprise in the State, and he lived to see the 
fulfilment of even his wildest dreams. For fully a 
quarter of a century the Lehigh Valley Railroad stood 
first among all the railroads of this State in point of 
credit. It was regarded as the one railroad enterprise 
that must ever maintain a high measiu^e of prosperity. 

I met Mr. Packer frequently before I became a resi- 
dent of Philadelphia, and thereafter I spent many 
evenings with him at his home on Spruce Street, above 
Ninth. He was a man of excellent presence, with a 

So Old Time Notes 

finely chiseled face that was almost a stranger to visible 
emotion, and he was severely qtiiet and tmassuming in 
conversation. He and his devoted wife, who had mar- 
ried the carpenter of the Lehigh Valley, never changed 
their simple tastes when they had millions to expend 
for luxuries. She continued to the end of her days to 
knit her stockings, to fashion many of her own garments, 
and it xvas with great difficulty that she could be per- 
suaded to ride in her own carriage. They both loved 
the quiet of their home and were sternly severe to 
ostentatious display. 

He had been somewhat in politics, but it was not to 
his taste. Political honors were thrust upon him 
rather than sought by him. He served in the Legis- 
lature, was twice elected to Congress, and in 1868 had 
the unanimous vote of Pennsylvania for the Demo- 
cratic nomination for President. In 1869, without 
seeking or desiring it, he was nominated as the Demo- 
cratic candidate for Governor against Governor Geary, 
then a candidate for re-election. Philadelphia elec- 
tions were then run quite as recklessly as they are now, 
and a vigorous and powerful Democratic organization 
was maintained with variations in ballot corrupting 
methods quite equal to those of the Republicans. 

The majority returned for Gear\^ over Packer in the 
State was 4,596, and more than that majority had 
been given to Geary in Philadelphia. Packer s friends 
believed, and they certainly had plausible grounds for 
the belief, that their candidate had carried a majority 
in the city of Philadelphia. Gear>' was at variance 
with a considerable element of his own party. A 
sensational contest in which Mr. Diamond, the Demo- 
cratic candidate for senator, contested the seat of Mr. 
Watts, who was returned as elected, exhibited the most 
flagrant frauds by changing returns even after they had 
bcc^n cominited and certified, but the partisan majority 

Of Pennsylvania 81 

of the senate sustained the candidate in poUtical sym- 
pathy with it, and the Legislature being largely Re- 
pubUcan, a contest by Packer for the gubernatorial 
chair was regarded as utterly hopeless. 

It was a common thing in those days for leading 
RepubUcan politicians of both parties to gather at the 
Girard House, and Room No. 42, one of the largest in 
the house, was a political rendezvous almost every 
day, and especially on Simday. I was a frequent 
visitor at these meetings of Republican leaders, and 
had very pleasant personal relations with most of 
them, although not regarded as soimdly in sympathy 
with their methods. 

On the Sunday after the first week of the new Legis- 
lature that had organized and received the Governor's 
message I happened to stop in at the Girard House to 
see many members of the Legislature from different 
parts of the State who were there, and finally called at 
No. 42, where I found ex-Treasurer Kemble and State 
Treasurer Mackey, with John L. Hill and Sheriff 
Elliott. The table was covered with papers on which 
there had been elaborate figuring, and I inquired what 
it meant. Kemble, who was vastly more frank than 
discreet, bliuted right out that Geary in his message 
had insisted upon taking the $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 
of surplus in the Treasury and appropriating it to the 
public debt, which would have made the office of treas- 
urer valueless, reduced Mackey to the starvation point, 
and deprived Kemble and his bank of large profits. 

Kemble said that "Geary didn't know any better 
and supposed that he was really elected Governor, 
when in point of fact he wasn't, and we have just been 
figuring over the Philadelphia situation to ascertain 
whether the abundant facts we have could defeat him 
in a contest without sending a lot of our own people to 
the penitentiary." 

82 Old Time Notes 

The flood-gate haxi been opened by Kemble and all 
of them expressed themselves as most desirous of 
putting Geary out. They knew how he had been 
elected, and they assumed that he had given them a 
very poor return for the risks they had taken to secure 
his success. It was finally decided that the develop- 
ments of the contest would be quite as dangerous to 
them and their friends as to Geary, and it was aban- 

I have no personal knowledge of the facts as to the 
election of that year, but I simply state that the men 
who were there in consultation all declared, and I do 
not doubt believed, that Packer was elected Governor 
of the State. 

Packer was a man of unflagging energy. He had no 
taste for society; indeed all formal social duties were 
extremely irksome to him. His greatest pleasure was 
to have three friends join him in the evening at his 
Philadelphia residence, play euchre until about half 
past ten, and then join him in a drink of good old rye 
and adjourn. I frequently tarried with him at his own 
request after others had gone, and heard him talk when 
his heart was on his sleeve. He then regarded himself 
as worth about $14,000,000 and I never knew a man to 
agonize as he did about the peril of large fortune to a 
family. He feared that his many millions would unfit 
his children for usefulness and true enjoyment of life, 
and it was this apprehension that made him entail his 
entire estate at the death of his children without issue 
to the Lehigh University. 

After his death his two sons were not long in follow- 
ing him across the dark river, and both died childless. 
One daughter had married an estimable gentleman, and 
specific bequests were made to her and her children, 
leaving them without interest in the residuary estate, 
and the other daughter, married some years after his 

Of Pennsylvania 


death, is also childless and is now well advanced in 
years, so that the last of the Packer estate must soon 
at the latest revert to his favorite university. 

Fortunately Packer passed away before financial 
reverses overtook his great railroad organization, and 
it is now, like the great iron monuments erected by 
"Pap" Thomas to which he pointed with such pride 
until the day of his death, one of the broken reeds of 
our great network of railroads. He died in Philadel- 
phia on the 17th of May, 1879. He and Thomas lived 
to see as the fruits of their efforts the wonderful trans- 
formation in the Lehigh region that poured its match- 
less wealth into the marts of commerce and trade, and 
both joined the great majority beyond before the 
shadows of misfortune had clouded their great life's 

84 Old Time Notes 


Democrats Rejected Van Buren After a Long Struggle — Nominated the 
First Dark Horse for the Presidency in James K. Polk — Clay 
Nominated Unanimously by a Convention and Party That Idolized 
Him — Pennsylvania Was the Pivotal State — The Death of Muhlen- 
berg, the Democratic Candidate for Governor, United the Demo- 
cratic Factions on Shunk and Defeated Markle, the Whig Candi- 
date, by a Small Majority — The Birth of the Native American 
Movements — Lewis C. Levin and His Career. 

THE Presidential contest of 1844 is memorable 
with the great mass of intelligent American peo- 
ple as the struggle in which Henry Clay, the 
most brilliant of all the great men of his day, and cer- 
tainly the most beloved of any popular leader in the 
history of American politics, was defeated by James 
K. Polk; but its chief importance in shaping the des- 
tiny of political parties, and of the Republic as well, 
is not well understood. The nomination of Polk is 
generally regarded as an accident, as he was the first 
"dark horse*' who succeeded in obtaining a Presiden- 
tial nomination, but his selection was in no degree 
accidental, as it was most deliberately planned, in 
which the Virginia Democratic leaders, then the ablest 
of the South, were important factors. Nor was the 
nomination of Polk conceived and executed simply to 
defeat Van Buren or any other candidate, or to advance 
any personal favorite. It was carefully planned to in- 
augurate a new but una vowed policy of the Democratic 
party to nationalize the issue of slavery extension. 

Van Buren had been defeated in 1840 by a large 
majority, but the general conviction of the Democratic 

f \ 

!^a-B.t^ '^^ifo^.fca 

> » 

Of Pennsylvania 85 

people regarded him as entitled to be made the candi- 
date in 1844 to retrieve the disaster he suffered in the 
tidal wave of business and industrial despondency of 
1840. There were many who regarded him as ima- 
vailable, but the majority of his Democratic supporters 
looked upon his election as reasonably certain if again 
made the candidate of the party. The opposition to 
his renomination was not. as a rule, openly declared. ' 
There were murmurs here and there against Van Biu'en. 
but the important work that accomplished this over- 
throw was subtle, searching and earnestly directed. 

The advocates of slavery extension saw that the 
time had come when they must strengthen themselves 
by some very important advancement in their cause, 
or finally surrender the contest for the maintenance of 
the institution; and their purpose, as very carefully 
considered and decided upon, was to force the annex- 
ation of Texas, a slave republic, with the right of divi- 
sion into four additional States, and to follow that by 
the acquisition of additional slave territory from 

The year 1844 and its Presidential battle, therefore, 
inaugurated the policy of nationalizing slavery exten- 
sion, and it thereby dated the decline and fall of the 
Democratic party that had ruled the nation, practically 
without interruption, since the triumph of Jefferson 
in 1800. 

Van Buren was not in sympathy with this policy and 
a short time before the meeting of the National conven- 
tion he published a letter declaring distinctly against 
the annexation of Texas. He was one of the shrewdest 
political leaders and he saw that if the annexation policy 
ruled the National convention he must not oriy be 
defeated, but he must be retired as a leading factor in 
the national Democracy. The convention had a clear 
majority of delegates pledged or instructed for Van 

86 Old Time Notes 

Buren, but the real test of Van Buren's strength in the 
convention was on the question of adopting the two- 
thirds rule, which was carried by X48 to 118. Every 
supporter of Van Buren knew that while he had a 
majority of the delegates he could not under any cir- 
cumstances command a two- thirds vote, and every vote 
cast for the adoption of the two-thirds rule by a pro- 
fessed friend of Van Buren was simply a deliberate stab 
at his own candidate. 

On the first ballot Van Buren received 146 votes to 
120 for all others, and Polk did not receive a single vote 
until the eighth ballot, when Virginia, the ** Mother of 
Presidents,'* pointed the way to the dark horse, and he 
received 44 votes, with Van Buren dropping to 104. 
On the ninth ballot Polk received the entire vote of the 
convention with the exception of 2 for Van Buren and 
29 for Cass. 

While the great mass of the Democratic people did 
not understand the real purpose of Polk's nomination, 
Van Buren was in no measure deceived, and he and his 
friends hesitated long before they finally agreed to give 
their support to Polk under satisfactory conditions 
relating to their recognition by the party. Polk openly 
declared for the annexation of Texas, and Clay, know- 
ing that the annexation cause was very strong in the 
South, declared against the immediate annexation of 
Texas without the consent of Mexico, as otherwise it 
would inevitably involve us in war. There were thus 
two great issues involved in the Polk-Clay contest of 
1844 — first, the issue of protection to our industries 
by maintaining the tariff of 1842, or a return to a reve- 
nue tariff, and, second, the nationalization of the policy 
of slavery extension. 

Pennsylvania was the arbiter in the great trial of 
1844 and decided in favor of nationalizing a slave 
extension policy and going back to a revenue tariff. 

Of Pennsylvania 87 

On the final resxilt the transfer of the electoral vote of 
Pennsylvania from Polk to Clay left Polk a small 
majority in the Electoral College, but the October con- 
test for Governor in this State was as decisive in deter- 
mining the defeat of Clay as was the battle of Gettys- 
burg in deciding the fate of the Confederacy, and all 
parties well understood that the vote of Pennsylvania 
in October would imerringly indicate the successful 
candidate for President. Pennsylvania was the key- 
stone of the Federal arch and no President had ever 
been chosen by the Electoral College against the vote 
of Pennsylvaina. Adams had been elected by the 
House when Pennsylvania gave Jackson a large 
majority, but no President was ever chosen in the 
Electoral College against the vote of Pennsylva- 
nia until the triumph of Cleveland in 1884. New 
York was an equally important State, but did 
not choose State officers imtil November, so that it 
was not a fingerboard for the final judgment on the 

The leaders of both sides realized the vital impor- 
tance or the contest in this State, and I well remember 
how earnestly and desperately it was contested. I 
was a boy not more than half way through the teens, 
but I was living in the political center of the mountain 
forests of my native county, and cherished a devotion 
for Clay that has never been repeated in all the many 
political struggles I have seen. The supporters of 
Clay as a rule literally worshiped him. He was their 
idol, their political deity, and they believed him to be 
the noblest, the grandest, the ablest and the most 
chivalrous of men, while his opponents met him with 
a tempest of defamation, publicly charging him on the 
hustings and through every newspaper opposed to him 
as a gambler, a hbertine, a horse racer, a Sabbath 
breaker and a murderer. The Whigs responded by 

88 Old Time Notes 

charging Polk with disgraceful littleness, studied 
hypocrisy and the offspring of a traitor. 

In no national contest before or since did the people 
so nearly universally participate in the work of the 
campaign. The Whigs and Democrats of every com- 
munity were ready to respond to the drum-beat that 
called them to assemble, and no man's defeat in the 
entire history of American politics brought anything 
approaching the agonizing sorrow that was felt by the 
friends of Clay when Polk's election was finally accepted. 

The Democrats were not in a fortunate position to 
strengthen themselves for a State contest for Gover- 
nor. Muhlenberg, who had run as a bolting candidate 
against Wolf in 1835, and thus elected Ritner, was very 
strong in the State, and there was a desperate struggle 
between his friends and the friends of Francis R. Shimk 
for the nomination, but Muhlenberg finally triumphed, 
leaving a very wide feeling of unrest and distrust 
throughout the party. Only nine years before he had 
defeated the regular Democratic candidate for Gover- 
nor by running against him, and that certainly would 
have weakened him to an extent far beyond the small 
majority that was finally given to Shunk. In the very 
heat of the campaign the sudden death of Muhlenberg 
was announced, and it relieved the Democrats of the 
chief peril that confronted them, as Shunk was then 
nominated by a practically unanimous vote, and with 
his clean political record and high personal character 
there was no reason why the Democrats should not 
support him. 

The Whigs chose General Markle as their leader, a 
gallant soldier of the War of 1 8 1 2 , and a man who com- 
manded the enthusiastic support of his party. He was 
not a politician, but was all the stronger because he was 
called from his farm in Westmoreland to lead the Whigs 
in their greatest conflict. There have been many 

Of Pennsylvania 89 

intense and earnest political struggles both before and 
since 1844, but there was no contest in which the whole 
people of the State were so directly face to face and man 
to man as they were in the struggle for the election of 
Shunk or Markle as Governor, but Shunk was elected 
by a majority of 4,397, and that was decisive against 
the success of Clay. 

Hopeless as the battle was, the Whigs followed their 
great leader through a struggle of another month, but 
Polk carried the State in November by 6,332. Had 
Pennsylvania elected Markle in October it would 
have assured the success of Clay in Pennsylvania by 
an increased majority, and Polk's small November 
majority of 5, 106 in New York would undoubtedly have 
been reversed in favor of Clay. 

The contest of 1 844 developed an entirely new polit- 
ical factor in Pennsylvania, although it was confined 
almost entirely to the city of Philadelphia, and it was 
not felt as an organized body in the contest for Gover- 
nor or President. A brilliant adventurer named Lewis 
C. Levin, a native of Charleston, S. C, and a peripatetic 
law practitioner, first in South Carolina, next in Mary- 
land, next in Louisiana, next in Kentucky and finally 
in Pennsylvania, was the acknowledged leader of the 
Native American element that had erupted during the 
summer of 1844 in what is remembered as the disgrace- 
ful riots of that year in which Catholic churches and 
institutions were burnt by the mob. He, with other 
less able and conspicuous associates, led the Native 
Americans to their bloody and destructive demonstra- 
tions, and he became their candidate for Congress 
against Thomas B. Florence, the old war-horse of the 
wharf section of the city. 

He was one of the most brilliant and unscrupulous 
orators I have ever heard. He presented a fine appear- 
ance, graceful in every action, charming in rhetoric 

90 Old Time Notes 

and utterly reckless in assertion. I have heard him 
both as a temperance and political orator, and I doubt 
whether during his day any person in either party of 
the State surpassed him on the hustings. He was 
elected by a good majority and was re-elected in 1846 
and '48, thus serving six consecutive years as a repre- 
sentative from the city. 

After his third election the leaders were unable to 
hold the majority in Levin's district, but they had 
become a compact political organization in the city 
and for some years thereafter they held the balance of 
power, and by combination with the Whigs gained a 
number of important local victories. Colonel Wallace, 
editor of the **Sun,'' the Native American organ of the 
city, one of the most genial and delightful men I have 
ever met and one who justly deserved the appellation 
of the '* handsome editor'* that was generally accorded 
to him, was a very important leader of the Native 
organization, and when the Whigs came into power by 
the election of Taylor in 1848 he was rewarded with a 
comfortable and well-paying position in the Custom 

It was through this organization that William B. 
Reed, one of the most accomplished men and one of the 
ablest members of the bar of Philadelphia, attained his 
political mastery. He was the accepted leader of the 
Whig party and he was absolutely autocratic in his 
leadership when he once defined his plans and pur- 
poses. He was twice elected district attorney by a 
combination with the Natives that he most adroitly 

It was this Native element that gave the Whigs 
practically the control of the Legislature in 1849, 
when James Cooper was elected United States Senator, 
and it was this remnant of the once powerful Native 
organization that placed the late Judge Allison on the 

Of Pennsylvania 


bench. The Whigs kept in such close relations with 
the Native Americans that they nearly always fused 
on local tickets. In 185 1, when the judges were first 
elected, it was arranged that the Democrats, the 
Whigs and the Natives should each name a candi- 
date for the common pleas court and that they should 
be supported as an independent judicial ticket. The 
Whigs named Thompson, the Democrats named Kelly, 
both then on the bench, and the Natives named Alli- 
son, who was then a young lawyer in the Northern 
Liberties district, and a leader of the Native element. 
He was accepted with much reluctance, but as the 
Natives were resolute in adhering to him he was finally 
accepted, although with grave apprehensions as to 
his fitness for the position. 

The Independent ticket was elected and Allison 
continued on the bench tmtil his death, and no one of 
his associates during his judicial term of service was 
more widely or sincerely respected by the bar and the 
public. This Native organization was maintained, 
although steadily depleting in numbers, tmtil it was 
galvanized into new life and huge proportions by the 
advent of the Know Nothings in 1854. 

92 Old Time Notes 


Buchanan Appointed Secretary of State in 1845 ^^^ Cameron Elected to 
Succeed Him for Four Years in the Senate — By a Combination of 
Protection or Cameron Democrats with the Whigs Cameron 
Defeated Woodward, the Democratic Candidate — Cameron's 
Ability as a Political Strategist — Cameron as a Democratic Senator 
— A Thorn in the Side of the Buchanan Administration — He 
Rejects Judge Woodward for Judge of the Supreme Court. 

THE election of Polk in 1844 brought Simon Cam- 
eron to the surface as one of the political leaders 
of the State. He gave lukewarm support to 
Polk, although all his affiliations had been Democratic. 
Rising from his printer's case in his native county 
of Lancaster, he had attained prominence as a 
newspaper publisher in Doylestown and Harris- 
burg, had been appointed to the office of adjutant 
general by Governor Schultz, and his shrewd and 
broad business instincts had given him wealth, and 
made him practical manager and chief proprietor 
of the Middletown Bank. He had large iron interests 
for that day, and his reluctance in the support of 
Polk was because of his apprehension that the 
protective tariff of 1842 would be overthrown by 
the success of the Democratic candidate. He was 
naturally anti-slavery, and thus, on the two great 
questions which were at issue in the struggle, Cameron 
was not in hearty accord with his party, although he 
made no ostentatious proclamation of his faith. He 
was the recognized leader of a faction within the Dem- 
ocratic party that usually managed to control the 
canal board and the political plunder of the State, 

Of Pennsylvania 93 

and his political methods were generally regarded as 
offensive by the Whigs, and made him distrusted by 
a large portion of his Democratic associates. 

Senator Buchanan was called to the cabinet of Polk 
as premier of the new administration, and his resig- 
nation from the Senate left a vacancy for an unex- 
pired term of four years to be filled by the Legislature. 
The Democrats had a moderate majority in both the 
senate and house, and it was not doubted that any 
candidate upon whom the Democratic caucus united 
would be chosen. The Democratic party of that day 
had a very able and generally respected leadership, 
and its high places went to the soaring eagles rather 
than to the mousing owls, as has since been rnany 
times common in Democratic management of both 
city and State. There were a ntmiber of prominent 
candidates for the senatorship to succeed the ablest 
representative of the party, as Buchanan was then 
acknowledged, and the leaders naturally sought for 
the man who would stand abreast with the great men 
of the fiist legislative tribunal of the nation. 

This purjDose, and this alone, led to the nomination 
of George W. Woodward. He was then only thirty-four 
years of age and entirely untrained in political man- 
agement. He would not have known how to conduct 
a campaign to elevate himself to the Senate, but the 
Democratic leaders did not err in choosing him as 
the man who could most nearly maintain the high 
honors won for the State by Senator Buchanan. He 
was a man of most commanding presence; six feet 
three in height, with a face of unusual beauty and 
strength, superb physical proportions throughout, 
and all the graces of a cultured gentleman. No man 
in the State had a cleaner record. He was bom at 
Bethany, Pa., March 26, 1809, and after receiving an 
academic education studied law, and was admitted 

94 Old Time Notes 

to the bar in Wilkes-Barre, where he practised until 
1 84 1, when he was appointed judge of the Centre 
judicial district. 

He had also been a member of the constitutional 
convention of 1837-8, where he had distinguished 
himself as an able disputant and an intelligent coun- 
selor, and when he was nominated for Senator to suc- 
ceed Buchanan, his friends in the Legislature and 
throughout the State pointed to him with pride as 
the future leader of the Pennsylvania Democracy. 

When the nomination was made for Senator there 
did not seem to be a ripple on the political surface, 
and his election was regarded as absolutely certain, 
but Cameron saw his opportunity and he alone shrewdly 
tmderstood it. He and tne Democrats in sympathy 
with him, wielding the political power of the canal 
board, were tireless and adroit in controlling the local 
Democratic nominations where it was possible to do 
so without unfurling their factional flag, and every 
Legislature of those days contained a ntmiber of sen- 
ators and representatives who were in more or less 
open accord with Cameron and his associates. He 
had more than enough in the Legislature of 45 to hold 
the balance of power between the Democrats and the 
Whigs, and he conceived and successfully executed 
the plan of uniting the Cameron Democrats and the 
Whigs to elect himself to the Senate. 

When it was first proposed by Cameron and his 
friends it was regarded as an utterly hopeless move- 
ment, as the Whigs as a party were specially at war 
with the more profligate element of the Democracy 
of which Cameron was the confessed leader. The 
Democratic leaders were entirely in the dark as to 
the ntmiber of Democrats Cameron could control, as 
his ablest and most effective lieutenants in the Legis- 
lattu'e rarely tmcovered their devotion to Cameron 

Of Pennsylvania 95 

to avoid losing prestige with the regular organization. 
When Cameron's strength was finally mustered for 
roll call it appalled the Democratic managers. It was 
an absolute necessity to have more than enough Dem- 
ocrats openly in line for Cameron to enable him to 
negotiate with the Whigs, and it soon became evident 
to all that he had the Democrats sufficiently divided 
to secure his own election if he could command the 
entire Whig vote. 

At first the Whigs seemed quite tmpromising, as 
they were rather less in sympathy \\nith the Cameron 
element of the Democracy than with the regular Dem- 
ocratic organization, but they were environed by 
peculiar conditions and pressing necessities, and a 
formidable element in the Whig party was soon crys- 
tallized to advocate the election of Cameron. Per- 
sonal considerations and prejudices were largely 
dwarfed by the peculiar and vital issues which con- 
fronted them. The national campaign of 1844 in 
Pennsylvania was conducted by the Democrats on 
the theory that the protective tariff of 1842 would 
not be (fisturbed. A very shrewdly framed letter 
was obtained from Mr. Polk, the Democratic candi- 
date for President, addressed to Judge Kane, of Phila- 
delphia, from which it was entirely plausible to asstmie 
that the protective policy would not be overthrown. 
There was no positive declaration on the subject, 
but its important statement was in the single sentence 
that declared in favor of a permanent tariff policy to 
give stability to the business and industrial interests 
of the country. 

This was claimed by the supporters of the tariff 
of 1842 as a specific assurance that Polk, if elected 
President, would not change the tariff policy of the 
country. Of course, many of the leaders knew better, 
but they also knew that if the people of Pennsylvania 

96 Old Time Notes 

believed that the defeat of Clay would overthrow 
the tariff of 1842, Polk could not carry the State. 
The Democrats marched in procession in many sec- 
tions of Pennsylvania under banners inscribed with 
**Polk, Dallas, Shtmk and the tariff of 1842," and 
Judge Myers, of Clarion, one of the prominent Dem- 
ocrats of that portion of the State, and a large iron- 
master, had a flag floating from his works bearing the 
inscription just quoted. After the repeal of the pro- 
tective tariff and the substitution of the revenue 
tariff of 1846, Judge Myers resented the betrayal, ran 
successftilly as an Independent Democrat against the 
regular Democratic candidate for senator, and there- 
after acted with the Whig party that made him its 
candidate for surveyor general in 1853. 

Two months had elapsed between the Presiden- 
tial election and the election of a United States Sen- 
ator at Harrisburg. In that period the Democratic 
leaders of the country generally, and even in Penn- 
sylvania, had tmmasked on the tariff question, and a 
revenue tariff was the accepted and proclaimed policy 
of the party. This condition produced great alarm 
among the Whigs of the State, as well as among the 
protection Democrats, and they felt that it was their 
paramount duty to prevent the repeal of the tariff 
of 1842. Judge Woodward was too honest to mislead 
his party on the subject. He was heartily in accord 
with the proclaimed purpose of the Democratic na- 
tional leaders to overthrow the protective system, 
while Cameron was undoubtedly sincere in his devo- 
tion to protection, as probably his largest interests 
were at that time in the manufacture of iron. 

On what the Whigs regarded as the most vital issue 
involved in the election of Senator, Cameron was 
undoubtedly in sympathy with them, and could be 
trusted to maintain his individual interests which 


' • .< . 

• • * 

« . • , 

Of Pennsylvania 97 

were in harmony with the general interests of the 
State. The Whigs believed the slavery question was 
not so vital, although there was much apprehension 
felt by them at the assured annexation of Texas, as 
the proposition was pending in Congress. By the 
terms of the Texas annexation measure that State 
was given the absolute right to be divided into four 
new States, making ten new Southern Senators to 
promote the interests of slavery and to oppose the 
interests of free industries. The bill had not yet 
passed Congress, but it was finally successful in both 
branches, and it was approved by President Tyler 
two days before he retired from the Presidency. 

Cameron was open in his professions of hostility 
to slavery extension, and I doubt not that he was sin- 
cere, as his subsequent career proved. Thus on the 
two questions which were regarded as the supreme 
issues involved in the selection of a Senator, Cameron 
was regarded as very heartily and aggressively in 
accord with the Whigs in favor of a protective policy 
and sentimentally, at least, in harmony with them in 
opposition to the extension of the slave power. The 
Whigs were smarting tmder the defeat of Clay, the 
most idolized leader of American history. They were 
entirely tmited in the belief that the State had been 
wrested from them and from Clay by a deliberately 
conceived and executed fraud on the tariff question 
and they were quite ready to avenge their wrongs 
in any way that promised success. Thus, while the 
Whigs at first blush resented Cameron's candidacy, 
they finally saw that it was the only opportunity pre- 
sented to them to save the policy of protection, and 
all but a dozen or so were speedily enlisted in the 
Cameron combination, but the dissenting dozen or so 
were obstinate and some of them apparently impla- 

98 Old Time Notes 

One of the notable features of the contest was that 
the Harrisburg ministers were generally in favor of 
Cameron, as he was a Uberal supporter of churches, 
regardless of creeds, and some of them were ver\' actively 
enlisted in his cause. Men from different sections of 
the State were sent for by express messei^ers and 
hurried to the capital to remove the prejudices of those 
who stood out against the combination, and finally all 
were gathered in with the exception of Jasper E. 
Brady, of Franklin, an old Scotch-Irish Whig, who 
was defiant in his hostility to Cameron's poUtical 
methods. Presbyterian ministers were simimoned to 
beset him and fmally with tears streaming down his 
cheeks he yielded his own views to the demand of 
the tmited Whigs of the Legislature. The result was 
Cameron's election to the Senate by a clear majority 
on the first ballot, and thus came into public fife in 
Pennsylvania a man whose career is entirely unex- 
ampled in the history of the Commonwealth. From 
the time he became a United States Senator in 1845 
tmtil his death, nearly half a century later, there is 
not an important complete chapter of political his- 
tory in the State that can be written with the omis- 
sion of his defeats or triimiphs, and even after his 
death tmtil the present time no important chapter 
of poUtical history can be fully written without recog- 
nizing his successors and assigns in politics as leading 
or controlling factors. 

Cameron entered the Senate on the 4th of March, 
1845, with an unfriendly environment. President 
Polk and Secretary of State Buchanan were both 
greatly disappointed and discomfited by his election, 
and neither the Whigs nor the Democrats of the body 
could accept him in full fellowship, but he proved to 
be a most valuable friend and most dangerous enemy. 
At an early period of his service, and during the entire 

Of Pennsylvania 99 

four years of his term, he was recognized as an impor- 
tant factor alike in politics and legislation. The Dem- 
ocrats of the State appealed to the President as did 
his Secretary of State, Mr. Buchanan, to vindicate 
Judge Woodward by his appointment to a vacancy 
on the Supreme Court of the United States. The 
Senate was Democratic by a narrow majority and it 
was not doubted that Woodward could be confirmed. 
The President nominated Woodward, but Cameron 
proved his omnipotence in the body by accomplish- 
ing the rejection of Woodward. It was a defiant 
answer to the President and to Secretary Buchanan 
and a cruel blow to Woodward, who, if he had been 
called to the supreme bench, would doubtless have 
made a most lustrous national judicial career, but 
Cameron, while doubtless gratifying a personal resent- 
ment, assumed that Woodward would be a dangerous 
judge of the political questions which must sooner or 
later demand judicial solution, and when Judge Greer 
was finally proposed for the place, Cameron heartily 
supported his confirmation. 

Cameron made the Whigs think more kindly of 
him by the only important speech he made during his 
four sessions of service in the Senate. It was in 1846, 
when the tariff of that year, by which the protective 
policy of the State was overthrown, was on final pas- 
sage before the Senate, having already passed the 
House, where all revenue measures must originate. 
After considerable discussion and a careful lining up 
on both sides of the Senate, it was discovered that an 
equal nuimber of Senators favored and opposed the 
new tariff bill. George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, 
was the Vice-President and presiding officer of the 
body, and just a short time before the vote was taken, 
Cameron arose and made a personal appeal to the Vice- 
President as a Pennsylvanian to save his State and its 

4 i. W i> 

loo Old Time Notes 

great interests by giving his casting vote against the 
new tariff bill. It was a plain, practical, earnest appeal, 
brief, but fervent and incisive, and the response of 
Dallas was the passage of the bill by his casting vote 
after the Senate had been declared a tie. 

Such was the beginning of Cameron's public career, 
and thereafter his life was one of perpetual political 
struggle. He was felt more or less as a power in every 
important contest. He was a candidate for re-elec- 
tion in 1849, but neither party would accept him, and 
the Whigs, with the aid of the Native Americans, elected 
James Cooper. He was again a candidate as an Ameri- 
can or Know Nothing in 1855, but was defeated after 
a wrangle that exhausted the session without electing 
a Senator. In 1857 he defeated Forney in a Democratic 
Legislature by the votes of Lebo, Maneer and Wagon- 
seller, three Democratic members. In 1863 he was 
again a candidate, when Buckalew triumphed by a 
single vote. In 1867 he was again elected after a 
desperate contest, and in 1872 was re-elected, prac- 
tically without a struggle. He served until 1877, 
when he resigned to give the place to his son, J. Donald 
Cameron, each of whom was four times elected to the 
United States Senate by the Pennsylvania Legislature. 

1 * • 

■ • 

• •• k 

Of Pennsylvania loj 


Nominated for Vice-President with Polk in 1844 after Senator Silas 
Wright Had Been Nominated and Declined — Had No Knowledge 
of the Honor Until a Delegation from the Baltimore Convention 
Made Him a Midnight Visit — His Casting Vote in Favor of the 
Tariff of 1846 — Thrice a Candidate for President Against Buchanan 
— Bitter Factional Feuds Between Buchanan and Dallas— Many 
Pennsylvania Presidential Candidates. 

THE national election of 1844 brought to the 
front m Pennsylvania a new and important 'fac- 
tor in the Democratic politics of the State in 
the person of George Mifflin Dallas. He had attained 
national prominence long before that period, but he 
was practically unfelt in the management of the 
party. He was an able, accomplished and courtly 
gentleman, who had little taste for the rough and tum- 
ble involved in the struggle for political mastery . 

He was bom in Philadelphia in 1792, graduated at 
Princeton and was admitted to the bar in 181 3. Soon 
thereafter he accompanied Albert Gallatin, as his 
secretary, to the court of Russia, and later became 
an assistant to his father, Alexander James Dallas, 
who was Secretary of the Treasury tmder Madison, 
and the successful financier of the second war with 
England. Returning to the bar, he was made deputy 
attorney general for Philadelphia county, an office, 
now known as district attorney, and was later elected 
mayor of the city. After the election of Jackson, 
whom he supported, he was appointed United States 
district attorney, from which office he was elected 
to serve a brief unexpired term in the Sen^,te in 1831. 

I02 Old Time Notes 

He was attorney general under Governor Wolf and 
became Minister to Russia by appointment of Presi- 
dent Van Buren in 1837. Two years later he was 
recalled at his own request and resumed the practice 
of his profession. 

When the National Democratic convention met in 
Baltimore in 1844 the party leaders, who had decided 
on the overthrow of Van Buren, fully appreciated the 
fact that the controlling States in the great battle the 
Democrats had to accept with Henry Clay, were New 
York and Pennsylvania. The defeat of Van Buren, 
when he had a majority of all the delegates in the con- 
vention, and whose friends believed that he had been 
deliberately betrayed and sacrificed, made the friends 
of Mr. Polk, the nominee for President, anxious to 
conciliate the Van Buren element, and they luiani- 
mously awarded the nomination for Vice-President 
to Silas Wright, then Senator from New York and Van 
Buren 's ablest lieutenant. The Morse magnetic tele- 
graph had just then got into operation between Wash- 
ington and Baltimore, and he was advised of the nomi- 
nation by message, to which a prompt, peremptory 
declination was returned. 

Finding that the national ticket could not be 
strengthened by a New Yorker in the second place, the 
leaders naturally turned to Pennsylvania. The names 
of George M. Dallas and Commodore Stewart were pre- 
sented by the Pennsylvania delegates. The first 
ballot exhibited a scattering vote, largely compli- 
mentary, in which Commodore Stewart received 23 
and Dallas 13, but on the second ballot Dallas received 
220 votes to 36 for all others, and was unanimously 
nominated as the Democratic candidate for Vice- 
President on the ticket with Polk. 

There was no telegraph line between Philadelphia 
and Baltimore, and Mr. Dallas was entirely ignorant of 

of Pennsylvania 103 

the fact that his name would be presented to the con- 
vention. It was generally expected that Van Buren 
would be nominated for President, and that would 
necessarily throw the Vice-President to one of the 
Southern States. After the convention a special 
committee was charged with the duty of personally 
visiting Mr. Dallas and informing him of his nomina- 
tion. His home in Philadelphia was not reached tmtil 
a very late hour in the night, when he was called up 
and appeared in his Ubrary gown, and received the 
midnight notice that he had been chosen as the Dem- 
ocratic candidate for the second office in the Republic. 
The information was as unexpected as it was gratifying 
to Mr. Dallas, and he gave a very cordial acceptance. 

The success of the Polk and Dallas ticket, and the 
prominent part that Mr. Dallas was compelled to play 
in passing the revenue tariff act of 1846 by his cast- 
ing vote as Vice-President, strengthened him with the 
party generally throughout the country, and also 
with the party leaders at home, who were all com- 
pelled to accept the new revenue tariff policy. Every 
Democratic member of Congress from Pennsylvania 
voted against the new tariff with the single exception 
of David Wilmot, who represented a purely agricul- 
tural district, with but little manufacturing interests, 
and he was re-elected. But the Whigs gained largely 
on the tariff issue immediately after the passage of 
the new revenue bill, and carried a decided majority 
in the congressional delegation. 

Mr. Dallas was severely criticised by some of the 
Pennsylvania Democrats for having given the deciding 
vote in favor of a tariff policy that was regarded as 
very injurious to Pennsylvania, and that resulted in 
the disastrous defeat of the party in the State, but he 
met his critics in a manly and heroic manner, declaring 
that as Vice-President he did not represent the State 

I04 Old Time Notes 

of Pennsylvania, but represented the Demcxn'acy of 
the nation, and he regarded it as his duty to accept 
the proclaimed faith of the organization. He stated 
that his duty might have been different had he repre- 
sented a single State as a Senator or as a Represen- 
tative, but as his position was one distinctly national 
in its character, his duty to the nation was higher 
than his duty to the State. 

James Buchanan was then altogether the foremost 
Democrat in the State. He was eminently able, 
severely discreet, thoroughly honest, and was well 
trained in the details of Pennsylvania politics. When 
he entered the Polk cabinet he had already figured 
in the National Democratic convention of 1844 as a 
Presidential candidate, receiving as high as twenty- 
six votes, and he at once became an aggressive candi- 
date for the succession. He was universally respected 
rather than beloved, as he did not win the sympathy 
and affection of the masses as he might have done had 
he been more genial in his qualities, but those who 
knew him best respected him most for his sober and 
conscientious convictions, and the fidelity with which 
he adhered to them. A number of leading Democrats 
in the State wanted a more flexible type of man for 
President. They saw that he was strong with the 
party in the nation and that all he needed was the 
cordial support of his own State to give him success 
sooner or later. 

It became necessary to find a Democratic opponent 
of Buchanan in Pennsylvania who would contrast 
favorably with him in character and qualifications, 
and Dallas was the one man who filled that bill. They 
had no hope of making Dallas a successful candidate 
for President, but he was the strongest man who could 
be pitted against Buchanan, and from 1844 tmtil 1856, 
when Buchanan was finally successful, there was a 


• « 

• m 

of Pennsylvania 105 

constant struggle between a large majority of the Dem- 
ocratic leaders and followers supporting Buchanan, and 
an able and most aggressive but small minority that 
supported Dallas. 

One of the leaders in this struggle against Buchanan 
was Reah Frazer, of Lancaster, where Mr. Buchanan 

He was able, tireless and even desperate in his dentm- 
ciations of Buchanan as the '* favorite son, *' and as the 
acknowledged leader of the anti-Buchanan forces, 
that was magnified in importance by the fact that 
Buchanan and Frazer were townsmen and members 
of the same bar, he crystallized a very formidable 
organization, sent the Pennsylvania delegation to the 
National convention shorn of its power by Democratic 
division in the State, and in 1848 Buchanan received 
only fifty-five votes for President, while Dallas re- 
ceived three. 

The strength of the supporters of Dallas against 
Buchanan culminated in 1852 when thirty- two of the 
133 delegates to the State convention presented an 
address to the body protesting against the nomination 
of Buchanan for President. It was an able paper, 
and made a profoimd impression not only upon the 
convention, but upon the cotmtry. 

It was signed among others by John Scott, of Hunt- 
ingdon, afterward Republican United States Senator, 
and by Wilson Riley, of Franklin, Buchanan's native 
cotmty, who was later elected as a Democratic con- 
gressman. The delegation to the National convention, 
however, was instructed to adopt the tmit rule, and 
Buchanan received the vote of the State. The contest 
in the National convention opened between Gass and 
Buchanan, Cass starting with 116 votes and Buchanan 
with 93, and on the twenty-second ballot Buchanan 
reached his highest vote at 104, when C^ss had f^^Uen 

io6 Old Time Notes 

to S3. On the thirty-fifth ballot Cass reached his 
highest vote of 131 and Buchanan had fallen off to 
39, and on the forty-ninth ballot, after a struggle of 
several days, Pierce was nominated by a practically 
unanimous vote. 

In 1856, when the convention met to elect delegates 
to the Cincinnati National convention the Buchanan 
men had practically stamped out the Dallas move- 
ment, as there were but few and feeble dissenting votes 
in the State convention on the Buchanan issue. Every 
delegate elected was required to give a written pledge 
to vote for Buchanan until a nomination was effected 
or his name withdrawn by his friends, and for the first 
time Buchanan appeared before a National convention 
with a practically united party, not only in the dele- 
gation, but in the Democratic sentiment of his State. 
His nomination and election logically followed, and 
Dallas was thenceforth unfelt in the political struggles 
of the State. 

Buchanan asked to be recalled from the English 
mission in 1856, to which President Pierce had ap- 
pointed him, to become Pierce's competitor for the 
succession, and Pierce exhibited his appreciation of 
Buchanan's new political attitude by appointing Mr. 
Dallas to succeed him as Minister to England. When 
Buchanan became President he exhibited a high meas- 
ure of poUtical manhood by continuing Mr. Dallas as 
Minister to the Court of St. James during his entire 

Mr. Dallas figured conspicuously in three contests 
in his State as a candidate for President, but was 
never regarded even by his most enthusiastic friends 
as within the range of success. He was made simply 
the leader of a minority opposition, but his great 
ability, his imblemished character and his ripe experi- 
ence in statesmanship fully warranted his friends in 

of Pennsylvania 107 

pressing him as a Presidential possibility. I never 
met him until 1861 after his retiim from the English 
mission, and then only in a casual way. He was a 
very attractive personality with his wealth of silvered 
locks, finely moulded features and courtly manners 
and a genial smile and cordial greeting that bespoke 
pleasant companionship. He lived in quiet retire-* 
ment after his return from England xmtil the 31st of 
December, 1864, when at the full patriarchal age he 
passed away, profoundly lamented by good citizens 
of every faith. 

Pennsylvania had never been honored with a Presi- 
dent or Vice-President until Mr. Dallas reached the 
Vice-Presidency in 1844, and he is the 01^ Pennsyl- 
vanian who was ever chosen to the position, although 
Richard Rush, John Sergeant and Amos EUmaker 
had been candidates before the people and received 
a minority electoral vote. Mr. Buchanan was the only 
Pennsylvanian ever nominated for the Presidency 
with any hope of success, with the single exception 
of General Hancock, who was a close second to Garfield 
in 1880. James Black, of Lancaster, was nominated 
by the Prohibitionists in 1872, and Wharton Barker, 
of Philadelphia, was a candidate of the Populists in 
1900, but neither figured in the ballots of the Electoral 

It must not be assumed, however, that Pennsylvania 
had not a number of other more or less pretentious 
candidates for the Presidency. Governor Pollock, 
who had won the governorship in 1854 by 40,000 
majority, and who was in hearty sympathy with the 
American sentiment of that period, planned an aggres- 
sive campaign to make hjmself a Presidential candi- 
date in 1856, but the Republican sentiment, inspired 
by the Kansas-Nebraska issue, subordinated the Ameri- 
can mastery, and he fell with his cause, and his name 


io8 Old Time Notes 

never appeared before a convention. John M. Read, 
who was the first Republican to carry the State in 
the contest of '58, was made an anxious Presidential 
candidate by his friends. I had been in the conven- 
tion and aided to nominate him, and soon after the 
election I was invited to a confidential meeting of 
his friends at his house to consider the question of 
latmching him in the Presidential race, but Cameron 
entered the field aggressively and his power of organ- 
ization made it a hopeless battle for Judge Read. Gen- 
eral Cameron was a very earnest candidate for Presi- 
dent in i860, but while he had the instructions of his 
State on a direct vote, the delegation was largely di- 
vided, making his cause a hopeless one. 

Asa Packer had the cordial nomination of the Dem- 
ocrats of Pennsylvania for the Presidency in 1868. He 
had Uttle taste for the contest, but his' friends were 
very earnest, and at one time thought it possible that 
he might be nominated. He received the vote of the 
Pennsylvania delegation on the first six ballots, when 
his name was withdrawn. Governor Curtin and 
Thomas A. Scott were both discussed in the circle of 
their friends, and with their own knowledge, as possible 
candidates before the Liberal Republican convention 
in Cincinnati, in 1872, and both were quite willing that 
their names should be presented if favorable oppor- 
ttmity offered. 

Scott would have been a very dangerous candidate 
for Grant if he had been nominated, as he was specially 
strong on two points on which Greeley was fatally 
weak. Greeley lost the business interests because of 
his imcertain financial policy as to resumption, and 
the Democrats refused to support him because he had 
mercilessly lampooned them for thirty years. Scott 
would have commanded the entire confidence of the 
bxisiness interests, and as his political sympathies were 

of Pennsylvania 109 

Democratic he would have been enthtisiastically sup- 
ported by that party. He knew that he could not 
enter into an open contest for the nomination, but 
as it was a convention of political free lancers, 
liable to be confused and possibly deadlocked in its 
coimcils, a condition was possible in which his name 
could be introduced and his nomination carried by a 

He was a very practical man and knew that he had 
only a remote chance, but he thought it was worth 
taking, and he arranged with me as chairman of the 
Pennsylvania delegation a special cipher by which 
he could be safely advised if opportimity offered for 
a dark horse. 

I have never known a more earnest candidate for 
the Presidency than Governor Geary, who received 
the largest vote on first ballot in the National con- 
vention of Labor Reformers at Columbus, O., in 1872, 
but on the third ballot David Davis, of Illinois, was 
chosen. Governor Hartranft also regarded himself 
as a Presidential possibility, and in 1876, when he was 
Governor of the State, he received practically the imani- 
mous instructions of the Republican State convention 
in favor of the delegation voting for him as a xmit in 
the Cincinnati convention of 1876, and was sixth on 
the list for six ballots, when Hayes won. 

Mayor Fitler, of Philadelphia became an active 
candidate for the Presidency in 1888. His name was 
presented to the Chicago convention by Charles Emory 
Smith, and he received twenty-four votes on the first 
ballot, but there his candidacy ended. Senator Wal- 
lace and Congressman Randall were both active and 
earnest Presidential candidates for nearly a decade, 
and Randall narrowly missed the nomination at Cin- 
cinnati in 1880 and also had the vote of his State as a 
unit in the Chicago convention of 1884. 

no Old Time Notes 

Wallace never made an open battle as a Presidential 
candidate, but he long dreamed of reaching the Presi- 
dency, as had many hundreds before and since his day. 
The era of dark horses as Presidential candidates began 
with Polk, was repeated with Pierce, with Lincoln, 
with Hayes, with Garfield and with Bryan, and it 
is not surprising that many public men who have had 
no prominence in Presidential struggles have dreamed 
the sweet dream of ruling the Republic. 

of Pennsylvania 



The Causes for the Agitation of Making Judges Elective — ^Judicial Hos- 
tility to the Reform Constitution of 1838 an Important Factor — 
The Protracted Struggle Between Governor Shunk and the Whig 
Senate over a Judge for White's Indiana District Aroused very 
General Hostility to Executive Appointments — Several Nomina- 
tions Rejected, and after Shunk's Re-election the Whig Senate 
Dictated the Appointment of John C. Knox and Confirmed it — 
The Earnest Battle in the Legislature to Defeat an Elective 
Judiciary — The People Appreciated the Trust and have Presented 
a Generally Creditable Record in Judicial Elections. 

FRANCIS R. SHUNK was inaugurated as Gover- 
nor in January, 1845, ^^^ his administration, had 
he lived to complete his second term, would 
doubtless have been generally creditable and not spec- 
ially eventful but for the fact that in 1846 a Whig 
hurricane swept the State, because of the repeal of 
the tariff of 1842, and the Whigs elected enough 
senators that year to enable them to hold the control 
of that body for three years. The Whig senate locked 
horns with the Governor on several judicial nomina- 
tions, and an agitation was thereby quickened that 
carried the amendment to the Constitution making all 
our judges elective. 

I never met Governor Shtmk but once, and then had 
little opportunity to form any judgment as to his 
personal qualities. He was tall, with a large, angular 
frame, and a face that exhibited unmistakable evi- 
dences of strength and sincerity. He was not a bril- 
liant man, nor was he graceful in personal accomplish- 
ments, but he possessed a large measure of natural 
intellectual force that brought intelligence, careful 

112 Old Time Notes 

study and unblemished integrity. Although elected 
in the white heat of the Polk-Clay battle of 1844, the 
Whigs generally respected him for his blameless char- 
acter, and he had every opportunity to make a success- 
ful administration. 

The terrible strain upon the credit of the State in 
1 84 1 had entirely perished, and tmder the impetus 
given to industry and trade by the tariff of 1842 the 
State was rapidly approaching a high degree of pros- 
perity. There were no complicated State issues to 
embarrass him, and he possessed the universal and 
absolute confidence of his own party with a large 
measure of respect from his political opponents. He 
called to the head of his cabinet Jesse Miller, a product 
of my own native mountains of Perry, who had served 
as a member of Congress, and stood high in the con- 
fidence and respect of the best Democratic leaders of 
the State. There was no legislation during Shtmk's 
term as Governor to cast reproach upon the Common- 
wealth, and he died soon after his re-election, in 1847, 
leaving as clean a record, outside of mere partisan 
dispute, as was written by any of our Pennsylvania 

At the election of 1 846 the Whigs chose nearly every 
State senator returned that year, and also carried a 
majority of the house, making Charles Gibbons, of 
Philadelphia, speaker of the senate, and James Cooper, 
of Adams, later United States Senator, speaker of 
the house, and John Banks, of Reading, who was 
Porter's opponent for Governor in 1841, state treas- 
urer. There was much unrest throughout the State 
arising from the general dissatisfaction of the people 
with the attitude of the judiciary of the State. As 
a rule, the judges whose tenures were limited by the 
new Constitution of 1838 often defied and openly 
blasphemed the new ftmdamental law, and it required 


• ••• • 


• •• • 

• • • ' 

Of Pennsylvania 113 

but a spark to kindle the dissatisfaction into revolu- 
tion. The spark came from the Indiana judicial 
district, where Judge White, the father of the present 
ex-Judge White, of the same county, had long been 
the president judge in the district comprising Indiana, 
Armstrong and several other adjacent counties. 

It was a primitive rural community then, sparsely 
settled, and chiefly forest. Judge White was not only 
an able judge, but his genial intercourse with the 
people generally attached them very strongly to him, 
and when his term was about to expire 16,000, embrac- 
ing nearly an equal ntimber of Whigs and Democrats, 
signed petitions to Governor Shunk asking for his reap- 
pointment. There was no blemish on Judge White's 
judicial record that could be urged against him, but 
Governor Shunk, in obedience to the imperious demand 
of party interests, refused to renominate the Whig 
judge. At different times he sent several names of 
Democrats to the Senate to fill Judge White's place, 
and all of them were admittedly eminently qualified, 
alike in character and attainments, to fill the judicial 
chair, but the Whig senators decided with entire 
unanimity that they would not be a party to the sac- 
rifice of one of the ablest and most popular judges of 
the State simply because of his political faith, and 
every nomination sent to the senate was promptly 

The agitation became intense in Judge White's 
district, and the contest naturally attracted very 
general attention throughout the State. The senate 
claimed that it was part of the appointing power as 
a co-ordinate branch of the government, and that 
it could not consistently permit a competent and 
faithful judge to be smitten because he happened to 
harmonize with the senate in political faith rather 
than with the Executive. It was the burning question 

8 - ' 

114 Old Time Notes 

of the State for a year or more, and it started in every 
section of the Commonwealth an organized effort to 
strip the Executive of the appointment of judges in 
the interest of a non-partisan judiciary. 

In the meantime Judge White's district was without 
a judge, and great inconvenience was suffered by the 
people. The result was, after Shimk's re-e'ection in 
the fall of 1847, the Whig senators regarded the con- 
test as hopeless, and they finally indicated a Democrat 
who could command an affirmative vote in the senate. 
John C. Kjiox had been several sessions in the house 
as a representative from Tioga County, and was 
accepted as the Democratic leader of the body. He 
was young, delightful in companionship, able in council 
or debate, and personally popular with both sides of 
the chamber. He was indicated by the Whig senators 
as the man they would confirm, and he was nominated 
by the Governor, who was glad to emerge from the 
conflict with a Democratic judge, and Knox was 
continued on the bench tmtil he was called to the 
supreme court of the State. He was a highly respected 
member of the court of last resort, but after serving 
a part of his term he resigned to accept the attorney 
generalship tmder Governor Packer in 1858, when he 
moved to Philadelphia and was a very successful mem- 
ber of the bar tmtil his death some years later. 

The breach between the Democratic Governor and 
the Whig senate extended into several judicial districts. 
He nominated Judge Nill, of Chambersburg, to be 
president judge of the Chester and Delaware district, 
but the bar resented the invasion of a foreign judicial 
officer, and successfully appealed to the senate for his 
rejection. A like dispute arose in the Bucks and 
Montgomery district, where the senate and the Gov- 
ernor locked horns, finally ending in a compromise. 
It was these judicial contests between the Executive 


of Pennsylvania 115 

and the senate which strengthened and quickened into 
aggressive action the widespread conviction that the 
selection of judges should be remanded to the people 
to escape the power of a partisan Executive who re- 
garded party interests as paramount to the proper 
administration of justice. Governor Shimk did not 
live to see the revolution reach its consummation, but 
the Legislatures of 1849-50, by a very large majority, 
passed resolutions submitting a constitutional amend- 
ment to the people, and when the issue finally reached 
the people in the fall of 1850 it was carried by an im- 
mense majority. 

I watched with much interest the contest for an 
elective judiciary, and had a very himible part in it. 
As a boy editor I shared all the inflamed prejudices 
against the arbitrary power of the Executive in the 
appointment of judges, and heard most of the more 
important discussions on the subject in the Legis- 
lature. When the resolution to amend the Constitu- 
tion to make judges elective was first passed by the 
Legislature it aroused the conservative elements of 
the State, and they made a very desperate struggle 
to prevent the Legislature of 1850 from giving the 
necessary second approval to the measure, as a proposed 
legislative amendment to the Constitution mtist be 
passed, without any modification whatever, by two 
consecutive Legislatures before it can be submitted 
to the people. 

A very earnest effort was made to control the Legis- 
lature, and some of the ablest men of the State were 
chosen to the house solely for the purpose of defeating 
it. Among them was James M. Porter, a brother of 
the Governor, who had been judge and was leader of 
the Easton bar; Conyngham, of Luzerne, who after- 
ward served with great credit on the bench, was 
another, and with him was Buemont, from the same 

ii6 Old Time Notes 

cotinty, and a man of high character and influence. 
These, with Comyn, of Huntingdon, and others, made 
a very earnest struggle to prevent the passage of the 

William F. Packer, of Lycoming, afterward Gov- 
ernor, was speaker of the house, and was one of the 
most accomplished parliamentary leaders of the State. 
He was very shrewd and able, and he exhausted the 
power of the speaker to prevent the house reaching a 
vote on the question. By careful management in 
halting the action of the committee, and afterward 
in halting the action of the house, the measure was 
delayed tmtil near the close of the session, when it was 
confidently expected that, with the aid of the speaker, 
the proposed amendment could not be reached. It 
was possible for any member of the house to call it up 
at certain times, but Packer was scrupulously careful 
when such opportimities offered not to recognize any 
member of the house without knowing that he did 
not propose to call for action on the judicial amend- 
ment. With all his ability he was finally outgeneralled 
by Representative Schwartzwelder, of Allegheny, who 
was the wag of the body, a universal favorite, and quite 
as shrewd as the speaker. He understood the despera- 
tion of the struggle, and one day when under the rules 
any member could call up a measure he made a per- 
sonal appeal to Speaker Packer to recognize him and 
give him the floor to call up a divorce bill. Packer 
had no doubt that Schwartzwelder meant a bill to 
divorce some man and wife, but he was appalled when, 
after recognizing Schwartzwelder, he called up the 
proposed amendment to the Constitution, and forced 
it to successful passage. Packer was terribly infuri- 
ated, and as soon as he could leave the chair he went 
to Schwartzwelder and charged him with deliberately 
deceiving him. ** Oh! '' said Schwartzwelder, ** I called 

of Pennsylvania 117 

up the most important divorce bill of the session, a bill 
to divorce the judiciary from poUtics. *' 

The legislative amendment to the Constitution was 
largely ratified by the people and was a very radical 
measure. It was assailed with great force as arbi- 
trarily terminating the tenures of all the judges in a 
single day, regardless of the high commissions they 
held from the Commonwealth for a term of years. It 
was admitted that very few of our judges, high or low, 
merited such a sudden and terrible humiliation, but 
the juggling that had been exhibited by some of the 
judges after the adoption of the Constitution of 1838, 
to extend their tenures beyond the clearly defined 
purpose of the new ftmdamental law, made public 
sentiment demand that the whole judiciary of the 
State should be swept out in a single day, and let the 
people begin with a clean sheet to elect their Supreme 
and district judges. 

Both the great parties realized what a revolutionary 
departure had been made, and that they must prove 
to the State and nation that the change was a benefi- 
cent one. The Democrats, then the dominant power 
of the State, strengthened their organization by calling 
an entirely distinct judicial State convention to nomi- 
nate the five candidates for the supreme court, while 
they held another general political State convention 
at different time and place to nominate candidates 
for Governor and canal commissioner. The Whigs 
nominated both judicial and political candidates by 
the same convention, but exhibited their appreciation 
of the necessity of non-partisanship in the election of 
judges by nominating Judge Coulter, a pronounced 
Democrat and a member of the old court. The 
Democrats had nominated no member of the old 
court, excepting Chief Justice Gibson, and the wis- 
dom of the Whigs was exhibited by the success of 

ii8 Old Time Notes 

Coulter, who was the only man on the Whig State ticket 

It is needless to say that the judges of 1851 felt no 
more friendly to the judicial amendinent than did the 
judges of 1838. I remember meeting the old supreme 
court in Harrisburg the last time it sat there, and 
heard some of the expressions from the judges on the 
subject. Chief Justice Gibson had no reason to com- 
plain, as he was nominated to be continued on the 
bench, and Coulter and Chambers were both on the 
Whig ticket, but Bumside and Rodgers gave full vent 
to their contempt for what they regarded as an angry 
eruption of the people that was likely to degrade the 
courts of the State. Bumside was then well advanced 
in years, and at times, when in a jocular mood, was 
inclined to boast that he was the ugliest man in the 
State. He was ruthlessly blunt at times, both on and 
off the bench, and I well remember his prediction that 
with the people electing judges it wouldn't be long 
tmtil Joe Barker, then a labor leader, who had inspired 
riots in Allegheny, for which he was convicted and 
imprisoned, might reasonably expect to reach the 
chief justiceship of the State. Force was given to 
the suggestion by the fact that when in prison Barker 
had been elected mayor of the city, and Governor 
Johnston was compelled to pardon him out of prison 
so he could asstmie his new official duties. 

The general sentiment of political leaders of both 
parties was so strong in favor of maintaining a high 
judicial standard that the judicial nominations gen- 
erally were very creditable, and I am free to say that, 
after having watched with more than ordinary interest 
the election of judges in Pennsylvania for over half 
a century, I believe the people have maintained quite 
as high a standard of judicial ability and fidelity as 
could have been maintained by appointments of par- 

of Pennsylvania 119 

tisan executives. Only a very few, indeed not more 
than can be counted on the fingers of a single hand, 
have brought actual reproach upon the administra- 
tion of justice, and, while partisan politics has in many 
instances interposed to prevent the election or re- 
election of men pre-eminently fitted for the judicial 
office, as a rule even those who won the judicial chair 
by purely partisan methods have generally appre- 
ciated the sanctity of their high calling and made 
creditable records for their courts 

The people must be credited with having exercised 
an unusual degree of political independence and of 
fidelity to the proper administration of justice in the 
election of judges. In Philadelphia at the first elec- 
tion the demand for an independent court became 
so strong that after the Democrats Whigs and Native 
Americans had all presented candidates for judges 
the leaders were compelled to make up an independent 
judicial ticket, consisting of one Whig (Thompson), 
and one Democrat (Kelly), then serving on the bench, 
and Allison, who represented the Native Americans. 
A desperate fight was made against this independent 
judicial ticket, but it triumphed by a large majority. 
Thus Philadelphia set the pace for independent judges. 

In order to understand to what extent the people 
have been independent in the election of juc^es it 
mtist be remembered that in every Republican judicial 
district in the State, with the single exception of Lan- 
caster, the Democrats have at one time or another 
elected judges, and also that in every Democratic 
judicial district in the State, with the single excep- 
tion of Berks, the Republicans have at one time or 
another elected judges. Philadelphia and Allegheny, 
the two Gibraltars of Republicanism, have many times 
elected Democratic judges in square contests between 
the Republican and Democratic candidates. Just 

I20 Old Time Notes 

now we have exceptionally severe political conditions 
with omnipotent power on the part of the majority 
party of the State, and little force or organization in 
the minority party, but, reviewing the record made by 
the people of Pennsylvania for more than half a cen- 
tury of an elective judiciary, it must be said of them 
that they have been quite as faithful to the honest 
administration of justice as would have been the Gov- 
ernors of the State had their power to commission 
judges been continued. 

Of Pennsylvania 121 


The Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad Ran by Horse-power until 1834 
—The First Train Drawn by the Locomotive "Black Hawk"— The 
Trip Prom Lancaster to Philadelphia Made in Eight Hours and a 
Half — Protest of the Conestoga Teamsters and Wagon Taverns 
against Steam Railways — Building the Cumberland Valley Rail- 
road — Shinplasters Issued to Financier It — The First Pennsyl- 
vania Railroad Charter Prepared and Presented by a Lobbyist 
Without the Knowledge of the PhOadelphians — Desperate Struggle 
Between the Baltimore and Ohio and the Pennsylvania Com- 
panies — Both Obtained Charters, but the Baltimore and Ohio 
Franchise had Severe Conditions which Made it Unacceptable, 
and the Pennsylvania was Given the Field in 1847 — Senator 
Gibbons* Battle with His Constituents, and the Controversy with 
Judge Conrad. 

THE administration of Governor Shunk dated the 
advent and mastery of the steam railway in 
transportation. The question of constructing 
railwajrs was earnestly agitated in Pennsylvania some 
years before the locomotive had been developed, and 
when the railway line was expected to be merely a 
tram road with cars to be drawn by horses. 

John Stevens, of New York, a man of broad, pro- 
gressive ideas, who was abreast with Fulton in the 
development of the steamboat, was the man who first 
urged the construction of railways. His steamboat, 
the Phoenix, that ran on the Delaware and Connecticut 
rivers, was brought to the Delaware by sea, and was 
the first steamboat to brave the waves of itie ocean. 
As early as 1812 he publicly advocated the theory of 
carriage by rail, and predicted the practicability of 
tising steam. He appealed to his own State of New 

122 Old Time Notes 

York, but was turned down as a pestiferous crank, 
just as Professor Morse was when he first went to 
Congress for aid to construct a telegraph line. 

In 1823, after having been repelled in several other 
States, Mr. Stevens, then at the advanced age of seventy- 
four years, made a personal appeal to the Pennsylvania 
Legislature to construct a railway from Philadelphia 
to Colimibia. He named such men as Stephen Girard, 
Horace Binney and John Conley, of Philadelphia, with 
Amos EUmaker, of Lancaster, among his incorporators, 
and Conley was made president of the company. The 
franchise was given for the period of fifty years, and 
preliminary surveys were undertaken, but it is evident 
that the men named as incorporators were not heartily 
enlisted in the work, as Stevens was never able to raise 
the sum of $5,000 to complete a mile of the road. 

Another charter was granted by the same Legisla- 
ture for the Columbia, Lancaster and Philadelphia 
Railroad, but no attempt was ever made to vitalize 
the enterprise. 

The necessity for a railway from Philadelphia to 
connect with the canal at Columbia became more 
generally appreciated each year, and as all individual 
and corporate efforts had failed, the board of canal 
commissioners ordered a series of preliminary surveys, 
and the Legislature of 1828 authorized the construc- 
tion of the road from Philadelphia through Lancaster 
to Columbia by the State. 

It was not a popular measure throughout the Com- 
monwealth, as the great mass of the people believed 
that the investment of State money in railways was 
little less than extravagant waste, and the appropria- 
tions were very grudgingly made for the construction 
of the road, and it was not until April, 1834, that a 
single track was completed between Philadelphia and 

of Pennsylvania 123 

The locomotive had just made its appearance and 
the first train that passed over the new line from Colum- 
bia to Philadelphia on the i6th day of April, 1834, had 
secured a locomotive known as '' Black Hawk," then 
regarded as the finest engine that had been constructed. 
They did not venture to make the entire trip in one 
day, but on the 1 5 th the nm was made from Coltmibia 
to Lancaster, where the party rested overnight. On 
the morning of the i6th the train left Lancaster at 
eight o'clock and arrived at the head of the Schuylkill 
incline plane at 4.30, making the trip from Lancaster 
to Philadelphia in eight hoiirs and a half. 

So little confidence had the managers in the endur- 
ance of the locomotive that an empty horse car followed 
the locomotive train with relays of horses at different 
points to rescue the party in case the locomotive gave 
out. They had much cUfficulty with the locomotive 
and at times the passengers had to get out and give a 
healthy push to aid it in starting. 

It is difficult for our people in this progressive age 
to understand the desperate resistance made by the 
people generally throughout the State to the introduc- 
tion of railroads. When Pennsylvania at an early 
day had given liberal assistance to the construction 
of turnpikes, making continuous lines from Baltimore 
and Philadelphia to Pittsburg, it was accepted that 
our Commonwealth was in the very front of progress, 
and our turnpikes developed an immense indtistry 
in what was known as the Conestoga wagons. Hun- 
dreds of six-horse teams, with immense covered wagons, 
were constantly on the highways, as they transported 
commerce and trade between the East and West, and 
they created what formed a very powerful political 
factor in opposing the introduction of railways, in the 
** wagon tavern.'* 

Every few miles along our through turnpikes was 

124 Old Time Notes 

found the wagon tavern. There was one or more 
in every village, and well-to-do farmers whose homes 
were on the turnpikes ran the wagon tavern as a side 
industry. All of them had very capacious yards about 
the bam to accommodate the teams during the night. 
Excepting in extremely inclement weather the horses 
always stood out securely attached to their wagon. 
Hay and oats were furnished for the horses at very 
moderate prices, and the driver could obtain a ** snack ' ' 
or cold Itmch in the evening, a bed, hot breakfast and 
an evening and morning drink of whisky for 25 cents. 

The proprietors of the wagon taverns were generally 
men of influence in the community and when the 
proposition to construct railways was seriously urged 
the wagon drivers and wagon tavern keepers made a 
most aggressive battle. 

Mass meetings were held along the lines of the turn- 
pikes to protest against the introduction of railways, 
which were declared to be of doubtful utility and which 
could be successful only by the destruction of one of 
the important industrial interests of the State, that had 
immense sums of money invested and which would 
certainly be destroyed. Political orators, always ready 
to cater to popular prejudice, delivered most fervent 
harangues against the proposed injustice of bringing 
ruin to the great industrial "interests,'^ which centered 
in wagon transportation. In some instances senators 
and representatives were elected solely on that issue. 

Fortimately the progress of the railroad was so grad- 
ual that there was no violent destruction of the wagon 
transportation interests and the grand old Conestoga 
wagon, with its team of six magnificent horses, usually 
elegantly caparisoned, gradually perished in Pennsyl- 

As early as 1829 the public-spirited business men of 
Baltimore appeared before the Pennsylvania Legis- 

of Pennsylvania 125 

lattire and asked for a charter for a road from Balti- 
more to the Susquehanna River, thence to the Borough 
of Carlisle in the Ctmiberland Valley. The committee 
of the senate reported that it would be against sound 
public policy to grant the franchise, and the measure 
failed. The chief reason given for excluding the Balti- 
more railroad was that the board of canal commis- 
sioners had authorized a survey for a road from Harris- 
burg to Chambersburg and thence by way of Gettys- 
burg to York, and in 1831 an act was passed for the 
incorporation of the Ctmiberland Valley Railroad 

The progress of the work was very slow, and the 
franchise was forfeited for want of subscriptions to 
the stock, but the Legislature extended the time, and 
on the 2d of June, 1835, sufficient stock had been sub- 
scribed to warrant the Governor in issuing letters 
patent creating the company. The bill rechartering 
the United States Bank as a State institution required 
the bank to subscribe $100,000 to the capital stock 
of the company, and Mr. Nicholas Biddle, president 
of the bank, not only paid the $100,000 subscription, 
but gave an additional $100,000 to aid the enterprise, 
but when the bank failed in 1839 the stock of the Cum- 
berland Valley Railroad was hardly worth enumerating 
among the assets. 

The men engaged in the enterprise were confronted 
time and again with almost insuperable obstacles for 
want of means, and finally it was completed by a large 
issue of 50- and 25-cent paper money, then commonly 
known as ** shinplasters. ' ' Money was extremely scarce 
after the financial revulsion of 1837, and the people 
were willing to receive anything in the similitude of 
money that had any fair semblance of credit. 

When this issue of small bills was made they com- 
manded a reasonable degree of confidence because the 

126 Old Time Notes 

directors of the company, most of whom were men of 
large means for that day, published a statement over 
their signatures, declaring that they individually, 
jointly, and severally guaranteed the payment of these 
notes. Among the signers was Charles B. Penrose, 
grandfather of the present United States Senator, 
Boies Penrose, who was then a State senator from the 
Cumberland district. 

The road was opened with great ceremony from 
Harrisburg to Carlisle on the i6th of August, 1837; 
on the loth of November the same year, it was formally 
opened to Newville, and on the i6th of the same month 
the shrill scream of the iron horse was first heard in 
Chambersburg, where there was a great military and 
popular display. The road was later extended to 
Hagerstown, but it was not regularly operated and 
only horse trains were run over it. It is now an im- 
portant link in the Cumberland Valley Railroad's 
extended line to Winchester. 

The interest exhibited by the people of Philadelphia 
and of Baltimore for the creation of railroad facilities 
in transportation was quickened by the heroic achieve- 
ment of New York in the completion of the Erie Canal 
in 1825. Until that time Philadelphia was the metrop- 
olis of finance, commerce and trade, and possessed the 
largest population of any city in the country, but the 
completion of the great water highway from Lake 
Erie to the sea gave an advantage to New York that 
steadily drained Philadelphia of her money and com- 
merce, and this decline of Philadelphia was greatly 
hastened by Jackson's withdrawal of $8,000,000 of 
government deposits from the United States Bank, 
by the financial crisis of 1837, and by the later failure 
of the great banking institution. 

Baltimore shared the apprehensions of Philadelphia, 
and both cities appreciated the necessity of reaching 

Of Pennsylvania 127 

westward to divide the rapidly growing trade of the 
new States then extending to the Father of Waters, 
with the State of Missouri on its western shore. 

Strange as it may seem, the Baltimore & Ohio Rail- 
road, then completed from Baltimore to Cimiberland, 
was in advance of the people of Philadelphia in press- 
ing for an all-rail line from the eastern coast to the 
waters of the Ohio at Pittsburg, and the first bill pro- 
viding for the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road Company, proposing to construct a line from 
Harrisburg to Pittsburg, was prepared and presented 
to the Legislature without the knowledge of the Phila- 
delphia business men. The Baltimore & Ohio had 
obtained from the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1845 
a franchise for the extension of the road from Cimiber- 
land to Pittsburg. As there was then no proposition 
to construct any other railway line in the State, little 
opposition was exhibited to the project of the Balti- 
more & Ohio. 

The man who first conceived and prepared the bill 
for the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company was Captain Samuel D. Kams. He was 
jolly and companionable, and one of the most popular 
of the captains of the packet boats on the canal during 
the summer season, and in the winter he made his 
home at Harrisburg, and paid the expenses of what 
would now be regarded as rather a frugal livelihood, 
by picking up small fees as a lobbyist. He did not 
pretend to debauch legislators, but gave such attention 
to little matters of personal legislation as made parties 
willing to pay him the small fee he demanded. 

He was very popular with most of the men in the 
Legislature, and could readily accomplish little special 
legislation that was unobjectionable. He saw the 
proposition of the Baltimore & Ohio for an extension 
of its lines throtigh Pennsylvania to Pittsburg, and he 

128 old Time Notes 

concluded that there should be competition, chiefly 
for the purpose of enlarging his income by an arrange- 
ment with the Baltimore & Ohio. He prepared a 
bill for the incorporation of the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road Company, but failed to enlist any general interest 
in it, and it made no figure in halting the Baltimore 
& Ohio, but it finally awakened the people of Philadel- 
phia to the importance of Philadelphia having a cen- 
tral line through the State to Pittsburg. The fran- 
chise asked for by the Baltimore & Ohio was granted, 
but with severe conditions, and the franchise was for- 
feited within a year by failure to comply with its re- 

When the Legislature of 1846 met Philadelphia had 
become thoroughly aroused to the importance of having 
a through railway Hne, and the only through line in 
the State, from the Atlantic coast to Pittsburg, and 
the charter of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
was ready when the Legislature opened, and a large 
and powerful lobby of Philadelphia business men on 
hand to press its passage. 

The Baltimore & Ohio was there also with influential 
backing to obtain a renewal of the franchise it had for- 
feited. These two great interests were face to face 
and locked horns for a desperate conflict. The struggle 
lasted through nearly the entire session, and the de- 
bates in both branches became extremely bitter. 
The Baltimore & Ohio was logically backed by all 
the southern cotmties of the State on the line of the 

Both sides believed that it would be midstimmer 
madness to attempt to make two roads through the 
State, and that the successful party in the battle 
would have the only railway line through the State 
for all time. So desperate was the conflict, with both 
sides lacking absolute confidence of success, that it 

tSi*'********-*^'*******'*^ ©<»'»»it-^i^*^<«-**/ jO^-/oSo 

Of Pennsylvania 129 

finally ended in the passage of both bills, but with 
such limitations on the Baltimore & Ohio charter that 
it was within the power of the Pennsylvania corpora- 
tion, by advancing rapidly in its work, to render null 
and void the franchise to its competitor. The bill 
for the charter of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
was approved on April 13, 1846, and on April 21, 1846, 
being the day before the final adjournment, the Balti- 
more & Ohio bill was approved. 

The Baltimore & Ohio bill provided that if the 
Pennsylvania Company should have $3,000,000 of 
bona fide subscriptions to its stock, and 10 per cent, 
paid in, it would secure letters patent from the Gover- 
nor, and if thirty miles or more be put under contract 
for construction to the satisfaction of the Governor, 
and $1,000,000 of stock subscription in its treasury 
on or before the 30th of July, 1847, the Governor 
should issue his proclamation declaring that the right 
of way of the Baltimore & Ohio through Pennsylvania 
should be null and void. 

The business people of Philadelphia appreciated 
their opportvmity, and the sentiment was so strong 
in favor of the new enterprise that the city author- 
ities made a liberal subscription, which, with the action 
of a number of stockholders paying their installments 
in advance, gave the company the required money in 
the treasury, and on August 2, 1847, ^^^ Governor 
issued his proclamation declaring the franchise of the 
Baltimore & Ohio to be null and void. 

One of the many interesting episodes of this contest 
brought into prominence one of the most brilliant and 
promising of the yotmg men of Philadelphia. Charles 
Gibbons, then quite a yotmg man, took his seat as a 
sen^-tor from Philadelphia at the session of 1845, ^nd 
naturally desiring the construction of a railway in 
Pennsylvania he heartily supported the proposition to 

132 Old Time Notes 




The Baltimore and Ohio having been Forced from the Field by Con- 
ditions of its Franchise, the Pennsylvania Railroad had the Exclu- 
sive Right to Cross the State Westward with a Railxx>ad Line — 
Had $1,000,000 in its Treasury July 30, 1847 — Interesting Meet- 
ing between Chief Engineer Thompson and Chairman of the Canal 
Board, James Bums — The Work of Construction began at Meadow 
Lane, Harrisburg, July 7, 1847 — The First Train in the Jtmiata 
Valley — Struggle for the Presidency between Patterson and 
Thompson — Why Thompson was Successful — A Prohibitory Ton- 
nage Tax in the Pennsylvania Charter — The Advent of Thomas A. 
Scott — Interesting Episode of Scott's Efforts to Repeal Tonnage 
Tax in i860— The Repudiation Eruption in Allegheny. 

THE Pennsylvania Railroad Company, after a des- 
perate Struggle of many months and direct aid 
from the City of Philadelphia,was able to report 
on the 30th of July, 1847, 'that $1,000,000 had been 
paid into the treasury on accovmt of stock subscrip- 
tions, and the franchise of the Baltimore & Ohio be- 
came null and void and the field was clear for the 
Pennsylvania through line. 

The company had been organized on the 31st of 
March, 1847, with Samuel V. Merrick as president, 
and J. Edgar Thompson was appointed chief engineer 
to locate the line, with William B. Foster, Jr., formerly 
canal commissioner and later vice-president of the 
company, and Edward Miller as his associates. 

The great engineering feat of crossing the Alle- 
ghenies at grade was accomplished by Chief En- 
gineer Thompson, although very many of his own 
profession doubted the practicability of attempting 


• ••• 


' «•• • 

of Pennsylvania 133 

to carry passengers and traffic over the mountains 
at grade. 

James Bums, of Lewistown, was then president of 
the canal board, and believed that there was nothing 
about transportation that he did not understand. 
He was a man of strong individuality and very limited 
education, but eminently practical. I have heard 
him tell the story many times of his visit to Chief Engi- 
neer Thompson when he reached Lewistown in locatmg 
the line. He had heard that Thompson had con- 
ceived what he regarded as the impossible theory of 
crossing the Alleghenies at grade, and as Thompson 
was a stranger in the city of Bums' home, Bums 
thought it his duty to exhibit his courtesy by calling 
upon Thompson. 

Thompson was an extremely reticent man. It was 
a common saying around the Pennsylvania Railroad 
office when he was its president that he usually spoke 
about twice a day, and when Bums called to pay his 
respects to the chief engineer he foimd that he had to 
take the laboring oar in maintaining the conversation. 
He finally came to the point and asked Thompson 
how he expected to cross the Alleghenies, to which 
Thompson answered in his very quiet way that he would 
cross the mountains at grade. Bums said that he 
then knew that Thompson was a damned fool, but 
didn 't think it his duty to undertake to contradict him. 

Bums knew all about the Alleghenies, had nm its 
incline planes for several years, and the idea of crossing 
the mountains at grade was to him the very height of 
absurdity, but he was too courteous to dispute the prop- 
osition. After considerable pause Bums again ven- 
tured to inquire what time the Pennsylvania Railroad, 
when completed, would occupy between Philadelphia 
and Pittsburg, to which Thompson blandly answered 
that they wotild go through in fifteen hotirs, Btin^ 

134 Old Time Notes 

said he then knew that Thompson was such a hopeless 
damned idiot that he would not waste further time 
conversing with him, and he rather frigidly bowed 
himself out. 

Bums lived to make the journey from Philadelphia 
to Pittsburg in ten hours, and was one of the most 
devoted friends of Thompson during the remainder of 
his life. 

With the million dollars in the treasury, that then 
seemed to the managers of that day as tenfold more 
money than seemed the $90,000,000 that the same 
company had in its treasury after its recent increase of 
capital, the work of constructing this great artery of 
trade began at Meadow Lane, Harrisburg, where ground 
was broken, July 7, 1847, ^"d the company had a per- 
petual struggle to find resources to prosecute the work, 
but in a little more than two years the first train passed 
over the line up the Susquehanna and Juniata to 

I then resided in the Juniata Valley, and could not 
forget what was the greatest occasion of a century 
when the first song of the iron horse was heard at Mif- 
flin station. The country people were out by thou- 
sands to see the railway train to which nearly all of 
them were entire strangers. A dense mass was packed 
in the little level close to the road, and the high hills 
close by the western side were literally covered with 
intensely anxious and wildly enthusiastic people. 
The shriek of the locomotive announced its coming, 
when within a mile or two of the station, and the whole 
audience moved as if electrified, and when the train 
came into the station with its majestic sweep, deafen- 
ing shouts responded to the weird cry of the engine. 

It was a new epoch and entirely new condition for 
the people of the community, but they speedily ad- 
justed themselves to it, and in a little while the song 

Of Pennsylvania 135 

of the locomotive was heard repeatedly each day, 
and became one of the accepted advanced conditions 
of the age. The road was completed to the Allegheny 
portage railroad September 16, 1850, making a through 
connection from the Eastern sea to the waters of the 
Ohio. President Merrick bore the brunt of the exact- 
ing duties in the construction of the line, but he volun- 
tarily retired in September, 1849, when the success of 
the enterprise was assured, and was succeeded by Wil- 
liam C. Patterson, a prominent business man and 

Patterson was a man of progressive ideas, and well 
appreciated the great career and achievement of the 
new company. He startled the stockholders during 
the second year of his presidency by purchasing, for 
$260,000, the Powelton tract in West Philadelphia, 
for the purposes of the company, and where for many 
years the chief Philadelphia station was located. The 
stockholders, especially those in the country, where 
there were many immediately along the line, had 
severe ideas of economy, and I well remember how the 
rural stockholders were greatly alarmed at what they 
regarded as President Patterson's reckless extrava- 
gance, although the portion of that ground now owned 
and absolutely needed by the company would cost 
many millions. 

He also purchased the O'Harra tract in Pittsburg, 
where his intelligent forecast rendered a like service 
to the company, but the idea of flinging himdreds of 
thousands of dollars from a company with an always 
depleted treasury into real estate that the average 
stockholder could not believe would ever be needed, 
started an agitation for reform in the management 
of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and Chief 
Engineer Thompson was made the opposition candi- 
date to Patterson. 

136 Old Time Notes 

The struggle was a very earnest one, but the country 
stockholders gave an almost solid vote for Thompson 
for two reasons: First, they wanted to arrest Patter- 
son's profligate policy, as they regarded it, and second, 
it was openly urged, and considered as a very powerful 
argument, that $5,000 a year, the salary of the chief 
engineer, could be saved by electing him president, 
as he could perform the duties of both offices. These 
arguments prevailed, and in the fall of 1852 J. Edgar 
Thompson was placed at the head of the company, 
where his ripe experience as an engineer and his admir- 
able business qualities gave the great corporation 
steady progress, and he lived to see it not only one of 
the great trunk lines of the coimtry, but the most 
important railway system on the continent. 

He died on the 27th of May, 1874, when he was suc- 
ceeded by Thomas A. Scott, who at his death was suc- 
ceeded by George B. Roberts, who died in office, and 
was succeeded by Frank Thompson, who also died in 
office, and was succeeded by A. J. Cassatt. The public 
career of these men will be given in a later chapter and 
will tell one of the grandest stories of achievement in 
the annals of the Commonwealth. 

There are few people of to-day who have any just 
appreciation of the constant and at times apparently 
almost hopeless battle the struggling corporation had 
to make to maintain itself. The people of Pennsyl- 
vania were very strongly prejudiced against all corpora- 
tions and there was not a single advance step necessary 
to be taken by the company that was not met with a 
most determined and at times desperate opposition. 

The State owned the line of canals that the railway 
paralleled between Harrisburg and Pittsburg, and in 
the bitter conflict in the Legislature between the Penn- 
sylvania and Baltimore & Ohio, each trying to impose 
the heaviest btirdens upon the other, it was not difficxilt 

Of Pennsylvania 137 

for the Baltimore & Ohio, and all who were prejudiced 
against corporations, to force into the charter of the 
Pennsylvania Company a provision that was utterly 
fatal to anything but local trade, and severely extor- 
tionate upon it. Ostensibly for the purpose of pro- 
tecting the State canals, a tax of 5 mills per mile was 
required to be paid to the State for every ton of freight 
transported by the company. Of course, the line was 
then but a local road, and it simply taxed the trans- 
porters that much more as the tax was added to the 
ordinary freights. 

When the railroad got into operation it soon became 
so oppressive that the Legislature was forced to reduce 
the tax to 3 mills per mile, and as that proved to be 
prohibitory in the coal and lumber traffic on the line, 
the Legislature later repealed the tax on these prod- 
ducts of our industry. 

The tax was a direct imposition upon the industry 
and commerce of the State and it was absolutely pro- 
hibitory on through traffic. On the north of the Penn- 
sylvania line were the New York Central with its Lake 
Shore through connection and a great Canadian line, 
and on the south was the Baltimore & Ohio, all reach- 
ing for the trade of the West, and all free from tax 
upon tonnage. It was impossible, therefore, for the 
Pennsylvania Company to compete with these strong 
lines for through traffic, and Philadelphia was in the 
position of having expended many millions for the 
construction of a line to bring the commerce to 
Philadelphia, while the State imposed a prohibitory tax 
upon it. 

In 1855 the Legislature passed a bill for the sale of 
the main line, including the canals from Philadelphia 
to Pittsburg and the Philadelphia and Columbia Rail- 
road, and it provided that if purchased by the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad Company, as there would b^ np 

138 Old Time Notes 

competition between the State works and the railway, 
the tax on tonrage should be repealed. The same pro- 
vision of the act released the property of the company 
from taxation for State ptirposes in consideration of 
the payment of a given sum of money. The supreme 
court held that section of the act to be unconstitutional, 
and the Pennsylvania Company became the purchaser 
of the main line with the tonnage tax remaining. 

After the purchase of the main line Boyd Cummings, 
who was the last collector of tolls on the State road in 
Philadelphia, and who had Thomas A. Scott in his ser- 
vice as clerk for several years, called upon President 
Thompson, and told him that there was a young man in 
his employ who would certainly be needed by the rail- 
way corporation, and Scott was immediately engaged 
by Thompson and placed in charge of the construction 
of the Western division. That was the introduction 
and beginning of Colonel Scott's great career. 

The company appealed to the Legislature year after 
year to maintain the faith of the State, plainly given 
in the act for the sale of the public works, by repealing 
the tax on tonnage, but public sentiment was so strong 
against any legislation in favor of corporations that 
the only reward received was a succession of himiili- 
ating defeats. 

This continued until i860 when Scott had succeeded 
to the vice-presidency made vacant by the death of 
Foster. He understood the situation and fully real- 
ized, as did President Thompson, that if the tax was 
not repealed the railway company could not compete 
for Western traffic. The company refused to pay the 
tax, and fought it desperately in the courts, but in 
1859 the supreme court gave final judgment against 
the company for nearly $900,000 of accumulated tax. 
It may seem strange to those familiar with the present 
coUossal financial power of this great corporation, that 

Of Pennsylvania 139 

at that time it was next to an impossibility for it to 
pay that judgment, and yet it was in the power of the 
State treasurer and the attorney general to issue 
execution on it any day. 

I was then a member of the senate and in hearty 
accord with Thompson and Scott in their efforts to 
enlarge the commerce in our State, and restore Phila- 
delplua, in some degree at least, to her former grandeur 
as a commercial metropolis, but a great national battle 
was to be fought for the election of Lincoln, who had 
not yet been nominated, and also for the election of 
Curtin, who was nominated while the Legislature was 
in session, and if a RepubHcan senate and a Republican 
house had then passed the bill for the repeal of the 
tonnage tax it would have cost them the State ; indeed, 
they would have been utterly overwhelmed by the 

Curtin had placed the management of his campaign 
in my hands, and I was compelled to accept it, although 
with much reluctance. I was thus directly responsible 
for the management of a political conflict in the pivotal 
State where judgment was final in declaring the judg- 
ment of the nation, and it would have been midsimimer 
madness for me either to have supported the repeal at 
that time, or permitted it to be accomplished if I could 
prevent it. 

Scott passed the bill through the house, and had 
many very earnest conferences with me, hoping to 
reconcile me to its passage in the senate. With the 
votes of Senator Finney and myself he had ample 
margin to win out in the senate, but Finney, who was 
the ablest member of the body, and romantically 
attached to Curtin, joined me in saying to Scott that 
it would be a betrayal of the highest political and 
personal trust for us to support the measure. 

Desperate as was his condition, he fully appreciated 

I40 Old Time Notes 

the supreme poKtical necessities which governed the 
situation, and I remember one night in my room, after 
it had been finally decided that his bill could not be 
passed in the senate, he seemed to be in utter despair, 
as he said the company could not meet the large ton- 
nage tax judgment that would doubtless be carried 
to execution when legislation failed. I said to him 
that I v/ould most heartily support the measure at 
the next session, and Finney had joined in that prom- 
ise, and I added that I would answer for the State 
treasurer (Eli Slifer), with whom I had the closest 
relations, and who was, like Finney, a most devoted 
friend of Curtin, for his assurance, to be accepted in 
the strictest confidence, that he would not, as State 
treasurer, demand the collection of the judgment for 
a year. 

I said that I would go immediately to see him, and 
told Scott that he knew the attorney general, the only 
other officer who could enforce the collection, and that 
he should submit the matter frankly to the law officer 
of the government and return to my room. An hour 
later we were together again. He had the pledge of 
the attorney general (John C. Knox), and I gave him 
the pledge of the State treasurer that no process should 
issue upon the judgment for a year. 

Scott was most indefatigable in that contest, and left 
no means untried to accomplish the control of the 
senate. He managed to get Curtin and Foster, who 
was Curtin 's opponent, together in Philadelphia, and 
after explaining the situation and earnestly pressing 
the subject upon them, their amiability and their 
sympathy for Scott induced them to sign a paper 
stating that the tonnage tax question should not enter 
into the gubernatorial contest. 

Scott telegraphed me that this paper had been given 
to him, and that he would come to Harrisburg on the 

Of Pennsylvania 141 

night train. I immediately telegraphed to Curtin 
that if he did not want to defeat himself for Governor 
he had better go home and remain until after the Legis- 
lature adjourned, which he did. When Scott pre- 
sented the paper to me I handed him the despatch I 
had sent to Curtin, and that was his last effort that 
session to release his line from a most unjust and oppres- 
sive tax. 

When the next Legislattire met Curtin was Gover- 
nor and pledged to Scott's relief, and his close friends 
generally in both branches of the Legislature were in 
sympathy with the movement. With all of that ad- 
vantage, it was one of the most desperate and demor- 
alizing contests that ever occurred in the history of 
Pennsylvania legislation. Scott devoted the summer 
and fall between the two sessions to organizing his 
friends in every county in order to reach legislators, 
and he published at liberal prices a vast amotint of 
literature on the subject in nearly all the papers of the 
State, whether friendly or unfriendly to the measure; 
but while none could dispute the necessity of removing 
the tax to give our great artery of trade and otir great 
commercial city enlarged commerce, the meastire was 
fought with an earnestness and desperation that I 
have never before or since seen exhibited in legislative 

It was an absolute necessity for the meastire to suc- 
ceed tmless the Pennsylvania Railroad, that had 
already perfected its connection with the Pittsbtirg, 
Fort Wayne & Chicago Road, should stirrender the 
idea of making it a trunk line and of giving Philadel- 
phia a fair share of Western trade. The measure 
passed the house early in the session, but it was not 
until within a very few weeks of final adjournment 
that it could command sufficient votes in the senate 
to give it a majority. 

142 Old Time Notes 

It was finally passed in that body within ten days of 
the adjournment, which placed it in the class of bills 
that the Governor was not required to act upon during 
the session. He held it until a week or ten days after 
the adjournment when he signed it, and the great tax 
battle was won, and the Pennsylvania Railroad was 
enabled to start on its matchless career. The com- 
pany did not profit in freight charges by the repeal 
of the tax, as the act required that the freight charges 
in Pennsylvania should be reduced the full measure 
of the tax. 

For nearly half a century the Pennsylvania Railroad 
has been the central figure of Pennsylvania progress. 
It has been the safety of the State in war and its great- 
est inspiration to progress in peace. If the State had 
given it its charter with all securities and property 
entirely free from taxation, it wotdd have been repaid 
in score of millions by the wealth it added to our great 
State, but it has steadily paid a very liberal propor- 
tion of taxes, and often taxes which were alike unjust 
and oppressive. 

For a period of nearly a quarter of a century no 
legislator from Allegheny could cast a vote approach- 
ing justice to this great corporation without making 
himself a political suicide. Allegheny, like Phila- 
delphia, had subscribed to the capital stock of the 
company, and issued bonds to raise the money paid 
for the shares, expecting that the company would 
pay dividends on the stock and thereby relieve Alle- 
gheny from any taxation for interest on the bonds. 
It was not possible for a company, struggling with an 
always depleted treasury to construct a great railway 
line, to pay dividends on its stock, and the prejudice 
of the people against the company in Allegheny 
County became so inflamed by the appeals of repu- 
diation leaders that the authorities of the coimty 

Of Pennsylvania 


refused to levy taxes for the payment of the interest 
on the bonds, and when finally ordered to do so by 
the supreme court of the State, the commissioners 
preferred being committed to prison for contempt 
of court to providing means of paying the over-due 

Men climbed into Congress and into the State senate 
and house as repudiation leaders in Allegheny, and 
the prejudices of that contest asserted their mastery 
in legislation relating to the company. Indeed, from 
the day that the struggle began in the Legislature, in 
1846, for the passage of the charter for the company, 
until after its release from the oppressive tonnage tax 
in 1 86 1, this now great corporation, then in feeble 
infancy, was compelled to brave intense prejudices 
against all corporation progress, no matter how bene- 
ficent were the fruits promised. 

After 1 86 1, a new epoch with entirely new condi- 
tions and entirely new duties of the gravest character, 
confronted our people, and the supreme necessities 
of war, with the wonderful progress bom of such 
necessities, gave for the first time something like a 
fair field for our great corporation to develop the 
untold millions of wealth it has given to Pennsylvania. 

144 Old Time Notes 


Mr. Merrick, First President, Wearied of the Labor and Retired — Patterson, 
his Successor, the only President of the Company Defeated for 
Re-election — J. Edgar Thompson's Great Work in Completing 
the Line — The Fortunate Combination of Thompson and Scott — 
Scott was a Master Builder and Conceived and Largely Created 
the Great Pennsylvania System — Roberts, an Accomplished Engi- 
neer and Thorough Operator of the Great System, Succeeded Scott — 
Frank Thomson, One of the most Accomplished Transportationists 
of his day, Succeeded Roberts, and Cassatt, First Great Railroad 
Man of the World To-day, Succeeded Thomson. 

TO attempt to present the history of the wonder- 
ftil progress that has been inspired in this State 
by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company with- 
out presenting the names and records of the men 
who have literally created the matchless achievements 
of this great corporation, wotild be like presenting the 
play of ** Hamlet' ' with Hamlet omitted. 

The company has always been fortunate in the 
choice of its presidents. Mr. Merrick, whom I remem- 
ber when he conducted the business of the Pennsyl- 
vania Railroad Company chiefly or wholly in two 
second-floor rooms with the aid of a secretary and 
several clerks, was well adapted to plan and enforce 
the severe economical methods which had to be 
adopted to get the great enterprise fairly latmched on 
the road to success. He voluntarily retired before 
the completion of the road, but after its success had 
been practically assured, and was succeeded by Presi- 
dent Patterson, whose more progressive ideas laid 
some of the important foundations of the future suc- 
cess of the corporation. 



Of Pennsylvania 145 

Patterson was the only president who retired from 
office defeated in a contest for re-election, as I have 
already explained in a previous chapter. Well 
equipped as he was as a business man and financier 
at that time, the period had been reached when the 
ripe railroad experience of J. Edgar Thompson was 
needed wisely to direct future development. He 
was regarded as one of the most accomplished engi- 
neers of the country, and not only well schooled in his 
professional attainments, but had liberal experience 
in the important work of operating railways. His 
election to the presidency dated the first great epoch 
of advancement in the history of the corporation, 
but for ten years he had a perpetual struggle against 
the aggressive hostility of the dominating prejudices 
in the State against all corporations. 

I was brought into somewhat close relations with 
him because of the earnest support I gave, in both 
the house and senate, to inaugurate a more liberal 
State policy that would increase our railways, multi- 
ply wealth and add immensely to the prosperity of 
the State. The financial revulsion of 1857 continued 
to paralyze industry and trade until business was 
quickened soon after the inauguration of the Civil 

Some time about 1861 when I was a member of 
the senate, he sent for me to explain the utter impos- 
sibility of operating the Philadelphia & Erie Rail- 
way to enable the company to pay expenses and the 
fixed charges on the mortgage of $3,000,000 held by 
the State. There was no desire on his part to take 
any advantage of the Commonwealth for the benefit 
of his company, but the outlook for business was 
exceedingly discouraging, and while the Civil War 
was not generally expected, it was assumed in all 
channels of industry and trade that there would be 


146 Old Time Notes 

continued sectional agitation and distrust for years, 
which must result in continued restraint on any 
advancement toward prosperity. 

He said that he believed it to be his duty to allow 
the State mortgage to be foreclosed and the road 
sold, which wot2d have resulted in a very large loss 
to the State. It was at a period when the struggle 
for a more liberal railroad and corporation policy 
was making substantial progress, and I assured him 
that the sale of the Philadelphia & Erie, and the 
failure of the State to realize the full amoimt of its 
mortgage that had been so distinctly promised by 
all who advocated the sale of the State canals to the 
Erie corporation, would cause such a popular revul- 
sion against railways and corporations generally, and 
especially against the Pennsylvania, that it would 
be much less costly to his corporate interests to suffer 
serious loss in the Philadelphia & Erie for years, than 
to foreclose with heavy loss to the Commonwealth. 

He was most profoundly impressed with the danger 
to all his great railroad enterprises, and I remember 
him telling me that it seriously disturbed even his 
sleep. He said that it had lately brought to him a 
dream that greatly distressed him, as it presented 
him facing a bottomless chasm with no hope of escape. 
Colonel Scott was then vice-president, and Mr. Thomp- 
son's close adviser. After a full discussion of the 
subject he took a more hopeful view, and Mr. Thomp- 
son reluctantly assented to dismissing the idea of 
foreclosing the Philadelphia & Erie. 

There never was a more fortunate combination than 
that of Thompson and Scott in the many struggles 
which confronted the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
after Mr. Thompson's election. Thompson was natur- 
ally conservative, but his conservatism was well 
leavened with practical progress. He rendered a 


of Pennsylvania 147 

service to the great corporation that no other man 
could have given at the time. He was thoroughly 
equipped for all the varied needs of the railway, alike 
in engineering, operating and financiering, and when 
he began to reach the fruition of his wise direction 
after a decade of service he was accepted throughout 
the country as the foremost of our great railroad men. 

The elder Vanderbilt had won fortune and success 
by the combination of weak railways and the intelli- 
gent perfection of a great system, but Thompson con- 
trolled only a single Ime in the State and was compelled 
to create all the tributaries needed to make it the great 
artery of Pennsylvania traffic. He lived to see his 
great corporation attain an unexpected measure of 
prosperity, and its profits became so great that a large 
extra stock dividend was declared. 

Thompson was the conservative balance wheel that 
carefully regulated Scott's rapid development of a 
great trunk system. He kept his great corporation in 
the very forefront of railway advancement. So com- 
prehensive were his plans for increased betterments 
and extensions in 1874 at the time of nis death, all of 
which had been planned before the revulsion that began 
in 1873 was seriously felt, that one of the first acts of 
the board of directors after his death was to suspend 
some ten to twelve millions of improvements then in 

They had not been inconsiderately undertaken. 
The revulsion that began in 1873 was generally believed 
to be but a temporary disturbance in financial circles, 
and it was upon that theory that President Thompson 
proceeded, but in the early summer of 1874 continued 
liquidation throughout the cotmtry and in Europe 
created serious revulsion in finance and trade that con- 
tinued to increase, paralyzing all the channels of indus- 
try and commerce, until it culminated in the terrible 

148 Old Time Notes 

riots of 1877, when a mob burned several millions of 
railroad property in Pittsburg, and Philadelphia nar- 
rowly escaped anarchy. 

President Thompson finished his great work during 
several years of seriously broken health, and he stands 
to-day in the history of the corporation, and in the 
convictions of the great State whose wealth and grand- 
eur he so largely aided in developing, as the man who 
laid the broad fotmdations for the wonderful super- 
structure that is now the greatest railway system 
of the world. 

Thomas A. Scott was the logical successor of President 
Thompson, as they had stood shoulder to shoulder in 
advancing their great railway system for nearly half a 
generation, and he was chosen president at the first 
meeting of the board after the death of his predecessor. 
Jime 3, 1874. I knew Colonel Scott at an early period 
of his career, and I feel safe in saying that when occasion 
came to call out all his great attributes, as was the case 
in the Civil War, he developed as the greatest adminis- 
trator of the age, and he was as keen in perception as 
he was great in execution. 

He, and he alone, revolutionized the corporation 
policy of the State, and he did it because he possessed 
all the qualities necessary to crystallize men about him 
in every section, and enlist their earnest efforts in sup- 
port of a beneficent system of progress. He may be 
justly credited as the one who first conceived and 
mainly executed the extension of the Pennsylvania 
system by lease and purchase until it had a completed 
through line, with superb terminal facilities, from New 
York to Chicago. 

Looking over his work at this day and the remark- 
able progress that has grown out of the system he 
inaugurated, his extension of the Pennsylvania cor- 
[loration would not <^em to be an extraordinary 

• •• 

• • » 

• •• > 

<_^f<t-ty-'\^^Xj.'-^Al.a^'f* 'j^ 

Of Pennsylvania 149 

achievement; but when it is considered how feeble 
were the resotirces of the Pennsylvania Railroad at 
that day, and what grave responsibilities had to be 
assumed on the faith of future development of trade, 
the extension of the Pennsylvania was one of the most 
heroic business achievements of the century. 

When he finally accomplished the lease of the Cam- 
den and Amboy, giving a through line to New York with 
terminal facilities, which could hardly have been ac- 
qtiired outside of that corporation, he startled business 
and financial circles, and President Thompson hesitated 
many weeks before he signed the lease; but he was 
finally induced to hasten its execution by the well- 
foimded apprehension that even a larger rental would 
be offered by the Reading for the lines to New York. 

While Thompson was a master in planting the firm 
fotmdation for our great railway system, Scott was the 
tireless and heroic architect who hastened the creation 
of the structure, and is fairly entitled to the credit for 
the conception and execution of the policy that has 
made the Pennsylvania Railroad Company the great- 
est of all our railway systems. 

Colonel Scott was a man of wonderful versatility. 
His capabilities thoroughly equipped him to make a 
great military commander or to reach the highest rank 
of statesmanship or diplomacy, and he was one of the 
most sagacious of politicians. 

The night after the battle of Bull Run, when all were 
demoralized in Washington, Scott, then Assistant 
Secretary of War, was the one man who stood in the 
forefront with President Lincoln, General Scott, Sec- 
retary Cameron and others around him, and his heroic 
movements for the safety of the Capital, usually with- 
out waiting for advice or consultation, commanded 
such a measure of admiration from General Scott that 
he tirged the assistant secretary to accept a high com- 

1 50 Old Time Notes 

mand in the army. He was a man of wonderful 
physical vigor, of compact and symmetrical form, and 
capable of most extraordinary endurance. 

I remember when the North was cut off from Wash- 
ington by the Baltimore riots, and the State authorities 
were without information from Washington for two or 
three days; troops were hurried forward over the 
Pennsylvania, and I saw him sit by a single battery in 
the State Capitol for thirty-six hours, without sleep or 
rest, during which time he ran every train of the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad west of Harrisburg out on schedule 
time, exclusively by his own orders, and never kept a 
record of the location of different trains. 

Sleep was impossible at a time of such appalling 
peril, but the severe strain of running every train on 
250 miles of railroad by telegraphic orders would have 
broken an ordinary man. He was a master politician, 
and for nearly twenty years, beginning with i860, he 
enjoyed the personal confidence of the leaders of State 
and nation of every political faith, and neither of the 
two great parties ever nominated an important State 
ticket without very full conference with Scott. 

His career as president of the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company, beginning in 1874 just when the revulsion 
of 1873 was making itself severely felt, and ending in 
1880 before there was any recovery of material prosper- 
ity, marked no great advance in the progress of the cor- 
poration, as existing conditions required a scrupulously 
careful and economical direction of the railway interests. 

His great work had been accomplished with Mr. 
Thompson, and as president he was compelled to strug- 
gle continuously with prostrated business and indus- 
trial interests. Sadly broken health compelled him 
to resign his office June i , 1880, and on the 2 ist of May, 
1 88 1, death gave him the rest that life had long re- 
fused to him. 

Of Pennsylvania 151 

George B. Roberts was the natural successor of Presi- 
dent Scott and was unanimously chosen on the 1st of 
June, 1880. He held the position commanding the 
unbounded confidence of his railway associates and of 
financial interests throughout the world. He was a 
trained engineer, strongly inclined to conservatism, 
and was certainly the most capable man to fill the 
presidency during the particular period in which he 

The strain on railway interests had been very severe, 
requiring the most conservative direction, and with 
the exception of a brief period of somewhat improved 
industrial conditions beginning in 1882, he was con- 
fronted with the drags of the revulsion of 1873, ^^^ 
was compelled to pass through the more severe general 
paralysis of industry and trade beginning in 1893. 

He was a man of different type from Colonel Scott, 
and probably would not have conceived and executed 
the extension of the great corporation when Scott did, 
but he was the ablest man of all to operate the great 
railway system in times of severe trial, and yet when 
occasion clearly demanded heroic action he was fully 
equal to it, as was exhibited in his successful capture of 
the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad, 
when young Garrett, of the Baltimore & Ohio, believed 
that he was about to consummate its purchase; and 
also in his building of the Pennsylvania line through 
the Schuylkill Valley, as not only a measure of protec- 
tion, but as a warning to competitors who were con- 
tinually breaking faith and reducing the revenues of 
the company by unnecessary and niinous reductions 
of rates. 

He was a man of the sternest integrity, pre-eminent 
in all the qualities of an engineer, and his ripe experi- 
ence in administrative affairs enabled him to write a 
record as president of the company for the period of 


Old Time Notes 

:5*^x^pnt!cen wars, that will make his personality and his 
,fc^>i>cv«i>ents long memorable in railway and business 
x*?rcte&. His special attention was given not only to 
tJk* >Ki9e and careful financing of the interests under his 
x**>iAT5pe and to their protection against the assaults of 
".'^val SN'Stems, but to the development of the territory 
tributary to the main line and the construction of 
>e<vters» that built up its enormous local traffic and have 
x^vid^ its prosperity largely independent of the fluctu- 
Mions of through business. 

Frank Thomson, then first vice-president of the 
c«npany, was unanimously chosen to succeed Mr. 
Roberts as president on the 30th of February, 1897, 
but his Tintimely death, within a very few years after 
he had entered upon his new duties, gave him only a 
V^rief career to display his abilities in the direction of 
the greatest railway enterprise of the country. 

He was not in any degree a kinsman of J. Edgar 
Tliompson, and won his rapid advancement in the 
Ci>rporation by exhibiting in every position to which 
he was called the highest measure of administrative 
qualities. He had served a regular apprenticeship in 
the Altoona shops of the company, and was thus able 
to master all the varied details of equipment and trans- 
portation. When the Civil War began he was not yet 
twenty years of age, but Colonel Scott, who had been 
called to Washington to take charge of the military 
railways and telegraphs of the United States, chose Mr. 
Thomson as his chief assistant, and he exhibited extra- 
ordinary ability. He was often compelled to act with- 
out opportunity for consultation, but no emergency 
arose to which he did not appear to be equal, and often 
regardless of the limited resources at his command. 
He was soon accepted as absolute authority in all 
railroad movements for military purposes. 

He exhibited all the quick perception and swift 

Of Pennsylvania 153 

execution of his great chief to whom he was romantic- 
ally attached. When desperate movements were made 
in the early part of the war which might require the 
rapid repair of railways, Mr. Thomson would accom- 
pany the army, sharing every privation. When an 
army of 20,000 men had to be transported from the 
East to rescue our besieged forces at Chattanooga, 
Mr. Thomson was put in charge of the lines south of 
Nashville, where the greatest difficulties and dangers 
were to be met, and he startled the besieging enemy 
that regarded Rosecrans as absolutely within its 
grasp, by suddenly hurling a great army in itself to 
the relief of our cooped-up and starving soldiers. 

In 1864 he resigned his direction of the military rail- 
ways, as he had trained a very competent force equal 
to all the duties required, and took his first position 
with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as super- 
intendent of the Eastern division of the Philadelphia 
& Erie. Later he headed the management of the Oil 
Creek Railroad, one of the most important lines in the 
State; in March, 1873, became superintendent of 
motive power for the Pennsylvania Company; was 
promoted to general manager of the entire Pennsylva- 
nia system east of Pittsburg, to the second vice-presi- 
dency in 1882, to the first vice-presidency in 1888, 
and on February 3, 1897, succeeded Mr. Roberts as 
president of the company. 

He was a thoroughly trained master alike in the con- 
struction, operating and mechanical departments of his 
railway, was famSiar with the most minute details 
and workings of every channel of his great enterprise, 
and was accomplished and tactful in meeting all the 
many great questions presented for solution by one of 
the greatest corporations of the world. No condition 
arose during his presidency offering opportunity to 
test his ability in meeting any great departure in the 

154 Old Time Notes 

railway policy of the country, but he fulfilled every 
duty of his high office with consummate ability, and 
his unexpected death brought sorrow not only to the 
community generally, but a profound sense of personal 
bereavement to all of the scores of thousands connected 
with the great corooration from the highest to the 

Alexander J. Cassatt, who succeeded Mr. Thomson, 
has developed the third great epoch in the history of 
the Pennsylvania corporation. The first was created 
by J. Edgar Thompson, who laid the great fotmdation 
for the present grandest of all railway systems, after 
a full decade of desperate struggle against adverse 
prejudice which at times exhibited malignant hostility. 
The second was largely the creation of Colonel Scott, 
who inaugurated the immense extensions of the Penn- 
sylvania lines, and the third has been created by Presi- 
dent Cassatt, who has made a new departure as heroic, 
even in the present progressive age, as was Colonel 
Scott's conception and execution of his great trunk 
line policy forty years ago. Like all the great archi- 
tects of the greatest and best organized railway system 
of any country, Mr. Cassatt started at the lower round 
of the ladder in his work, and won his advancement 
solely by his pre-eminent abilities. 

I first met him when he was a rodman on the Phila- 
delphia division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, but 
he soon won the title of assistant engineer, then resi- 
dent engineer, superintendent of the Warren & Frank- 
lin Railroad, superintendent of motive power and 
machinery on the Philadelphia & Erie and later on 
the Pennsylvania, general manager of all the Penn- 
sylvania lines east of Pittsburg and Erie, third vice- 
president and first vice-president, in all of which 
positions he exhibited the highest tvpe of adminis- 
trative capacity. 

Of Pennsylvania 155 

In 1882 he resigned the office of first vice-president, 
not because of any difference in the direction, but 
because, as he stated at the time, his only object was 
to be released from the exacting responsibilities which 
he had seen destroy the vigor of a number of his asso- 
ciates. He loved his home, his farm, his horses, and 
he wanted rest. I well remember his discussion of the 
subject at the time of his retirement, when he spoke 
most feelingly of the sacrifices which had been made 
of health, and even of life, in building up the great 
Pennsylvania Railroad, and he had decided to escape 
the penalty of such incessant and wearing service. He 
continued as a director of the company, and was the 
close adviser of Presidents Scott, Roberts and Thomson. 

The death of President Thomson occurred at a time 
when new and most important problems were forming 
and had to be solved by the great railroad men of the 
country, and Mr. Cassatt was compelled to give a 
reluctant consent to assume active railroad duties as 
president. What he has accomplished need not here 
be presented in any detail. He has gone through the 
greatest railway struggle of modem times, and has 
emerged from it with his great system in the most 
complete condition it has ever been in, with its financial 
strength equal to all the heavy exactions made upon it 
without impairment, and the long, fretful and costly 
problem of cut-rate confusion, that has been so disas- 
trous to solvent railroads for many years, has been 
finally solved. 

The new epoch that President Cassatt has created 
required a call for $90,000,000 to tunnel into New 
York and make his great system safe for fair dealing 
and fair rates. It was a movement at once heroic in 
conception and execution, but the absolute confidence 
of his security holders, of financiers and of the general 
business public, gave him prompt and complete sue- 

156 Old Time Notes 

cess when very many of the great corporations of the 
country were in need of financial aid and unable to 
command it. His new policy is now an accomphshed 
fact, and his 11,000 miles of transportation lines, 
whose annual earnings are nearly treble the entire 
revenues of the nation when Lincoln became President, 
are to-day more securely anchored to assure permanent 
and liberal results to the security holders, than it has 
ever been in all its past history, under the leadership 
of the first railroad man of the world. 

. \ . 

Of Pennsylvania 157 


Originally Chartered in 1833 — Designed Solely as a Coal Line — Originally 
not Constructed for Passenger Traffic — John Tucker, the Thomas 
A. Scott of the Reading — Charles E. Smith's Presidency — Service 
Rendered the Government During the Civil War — Stock Fluc- 
tuated from 1864, to $1.25 in 1896 — Franklin B Gowan, 
the Brilliant Railway Man, Ahead of his Time — President McLeod's 
Struggle — Chief Justice Paxson Resigns to become a Reading 
Receiver in 1893 — Rescued from Bankruptcy and Restored to a 
Sound Basis by President George F. Baer. 

I HAVE stated that the administration of Gov- 
ernor Shunk witnessed the advent of the raih^oad 
to assert its mastery in the matter of transpor- 
tation. He signed the charter for the Pennsylvania 
Railroad Company, the first through line that was ever 
attempted on a solid basis. There were several rail- 
ways constructed before that period, including the 
Philadelphia & Reading, the Philadelphia & Colum- 
bia, the Philadelphia & Norristown, the Cumberland 
Valley and other fragments which have since been 
absorbed in great lines, but none of them contem- 
plated a through Une of railway from the eastern 
seacoast to the waters of the Ohio. 

Of these the only one of vital importance in the 
development of the industry and trade of the State 
was the Reading. It was originally chartered in 
1833 ^t^ authority to build a railway line from 
Philadelphia to Reading. The single object of this 
railway was to reach the anthracite coal region. The 
line was expected to be completed from Philadelphia 
to Pottsville by connection with the Little Schuylkill 

is8 Old Time Notes 

Navigation Railroad and Coal Company chartered 
in 1826, with a supplemental charter in 1829, author- 
izing it to extend its railroad to Reading. 

By merging with several local companies, and an 
enlargement of its charter in 1838, a continuous line 
from Philadelphia to Pottsville was completed in 
1842. No thought of making the Reading part of a 
through line, or of adapting it to general passenger 
business, seems to have been entertained by those who 
labored so industriously against fearfully adverse 
circumstances to create it. 

The road bed was graded only twenty-two feet wide, 
sufficient for a double track coal road, as passenger 
traffic was regarded as simply an incident, and the 
entire line was constructed on dead level or down- 
grade from the coal mines to the city of Philadelphia, 
so that the motive power required to take the empty 
cars back from the city to the coal mines was suffi- 
cient to bring the same cars loaded to the market. 
So rapidly did the coal trade increase that the early 
laying of a double track became a necessity. 

The space between the tracks was only four feet, 
which did not permit of the passage of ordinary pas- 
senger cars. As the passenger traffic grew into some 
importance, special passenger cars had to be built 
with a seat for two on one side of the aisle, and one on 
the other. It was not until 1862 that the tracks 
were moved sufficiently apart to permit the passage 
of passenger cars of ordinary width, and in 1885 an 
additional foot was added between the lines. 

The necessary increase in the trackage of the line 
involved the company heavily in debt, and Mr. John 
Cryder, president of the company, went to Europe 
to obtain a loan of several millions, but was imsuc- 
cessful in his efforts. Mr. John Tucker, whom I met 
many times as president of the Reading, and well 

Of Pennsylvania 159 

remember the distingtiished service he rendered the 
cotmtry as successor to Colonel Scott in charge of the 
military railroads and transportation, was then the 
active salesman of a large Philadelphia importing 
house, the head of which was interested in the Read- 
ing, and he advised President Cryder to send Tucker 
to England as the best man to accomplish the loan. 

When he appeared in London the financial men 
of that staid, conservative city were extremely shy 
about meeting a boy unknown in finance in a trans- 
action of such importance, but he gradually won 
his way with them, and secured the loan in 1844, and 
was soon thereafter elected president of the company. 
In one year he had the second track completed, and 
two years thereafter, in January, 1847, the Reading 
paid its first dividend of 10 per cent, to its stock- 

There was a gradual paralysis of business begin- 
ning early in the 50 's that culminated in the panic 
and general suspension of 1857. President Tucker 
was regarded by the more conservative investors 
as somewhat reckless as a 'financier, and the result 
was his retirement in 1856, when Richard D. CuUen 
was elected president, and in October, 1857, the 
Reading Railway suspended payment with the general 
suspension that followed the closing of President 
Alibone's Bank of Pennsylvania. 

In i860 Asa Whitney succeeded to the presidency , 
but served only a single year. In 1861 Mr. Charles 
E. Smith succeeded to the head of the corporation 
just after the attack on Fort Stimter, and he held 
the position during the entire period of the war, and 
for several years thereafter. He rendered a very 
great service to the government by his prompt supply 
of anthracite coal for government purposes. 

At one time in 1862 when both anthracite coal and 

i6o Old Time Notes 

transportation were not equal to the demand, as 
the government was using 10,000 tons a day, he had 
to give preference to the government contractors, 
often to the sore experience of maniif acturers, and had 
to trust the government until the indebtedness for 
transportation reached nearly $1,000,000, which was 
finally paid in seven-thirty bonds. 

The war period brought the high water-mark of 
prosperity to the Reading Railway. On April 7, 
1864, its stock sold on the market at Saf per share. 
A 15 per cent, dividend had been declared in Novem- 
ber of that year, which was paid in stock as the money, 
although fully earned, was needed to increase the 
facilities of the corporation. 

The strange fluctuations and ragged career of the 
Reading Railway Company is exhibited in the sale 
of its stock in 1864 at 82f on $50 paid, and on Jan- 
uary 10, 1896, after an assessment of $10 per share 
had been paid in a former reorganization, the stock 
sold in Philadelphia at $1.25 per share on $60 paid. 
President Smith did not lose sight of the fact that he 
was dealing with an inflated currency, and when he 
issued stock dividends he paid out the shares on the 
basis of $50 in gold. 

His financial policy was severely criticised, and 
he then adopted the policy of giving his shareholders 
the choice of accepting the dividends in cash paid in 
lawful currency, or receiving the dividends in stock 
on a gold basis, and nearly all of the shareholders 
accepted the stock. So successful was his corpora- 
tion that in 1865, when the government was willing 
to receive money on call and pay 6 per cent, for it, 
he made a deposit of $2,500,000 with the United States 
Treasurer, and some time thereafter, having occasion 
to purchase some $300,000 worth of rolling stock, 
he called upon the United States Treasurer for that 

of Pennsylvania i6i 

proportion of his deposit, and was greatly surprised 
when the Treastirer informed him that he cotildn't 
pay it. He begged President Smith to try and make 
other arrangements. 

It is not stirprising that the government was short 
of money at that time, notwithstanding its extraor- 
dinary resources from bonds and taxes, as the war 
was then costing nearly or quite $4,000,000 a day. 
Smith's company was in excellent credit, and he 
made a temporary loan from the Farmers* and Mechan- 
ics' Bank, and paid it at expiration of sixty days. 
It stands out very distinctly to the credit of President 
Smith that this loan from the Farmers' and Mechanics' 
Bank was the only floating debt he ever contracted 
as president of the Reading Railroad Company during 
his management of that great corporation, beginning 
May I, 1 86 1, and ending with his resignation in July, 
1869, when he was succeeded by Franklin B. Gowen. 

President Smith was a man of very quiet manners, 
of the sternest integrity, and certainly proved his 
great capacity as the manager of what had become 
a most important railway corporation. He retired 
because pressure came for a new departure in the 
Reading railway system, one of wild expansion that 
could not but be fearfully dangerous when imdertaken 
in the high tide of inflation, and from the time of his 
retirement imtil his death he had no release from 
the distress that the new policy of the company gave 

He was a constant visitor at the Union League, 
where he was a prominent member, and in the highest 
tide of apparent prosperity tmder President Gowen, he 
constantly and with intense interest deplored the 
headlong strides of the new policy to destruction, 
and he lived to see his worst prophesies crystallized 
in the saddest annals of our financial revulsions. 


i62 Old Time Notes 

The retirement of President Smith brought to the 
siirface one of the most brilliant and most unfortunate 
of our great railway men in the person of Franklin B. 
Gowen. He had been eminently successful at the bar 
and had his training in the heart of the anthracite 
region. He was a man of imusually fine presence, 
with a face of tmcommon manly beauty, heroic in 
ptirpose and brilliant in execution, and all who were 
in immediate contact with him soon fully shared his 
grand anticipations of future wealth by the expendi- 
ture of many millions in the purchase of coal mines, and 
organizing a coal company that has rarely if ever 
presented a gratifying balance sheet to the shareholders. 

In 187s when I was chief editor of "The Times," 
and giving special attention to the paralysis that was 
creeping upon all business and industrial channels 
since the beginning of the panic of 1873, ^ called upon 
President Gowen and urged him to reduce his divi- 
dends. I had been entirely convinced from many 
conversations I had had with ex-President Smith 
that the Reading Company could not continue to 
pay 8 per cent, dividends unless there should be a 
speedy revival of business. 

Many of our industrial establishments were then 
ciutailing their production. The wages of labor were 
being gradually reduced, and I made an earnest appeal 
to President Gowen to reduce his dividends on the 
single ground that the industries of the country could 
not afford to make such contribution to his corpora- 
tion as would enable him to pay the large dividend. 
I well remember the silver tone of his laugh as he 
informed me in his fascinating way that he owed it 
to his stockholders, who had not received regular divi- 
dends, to pay at least 8 per cent., and he closed his 
remarks by saying that at a certain season of the 
year he could earn it in a month or six weeks. 

Of Pennsylvania 163 

In addition to becoming the owner of immense 
beds of coal to furnish future freights, he extended 
his line by the lease of the North Pennsylvania Rail- 
road in 1879, and as that company then held the 
Delaware & Bound Brook Railroad imder lease, he 
reached the New York market with terminal facilities 
in Jersey City, but one year later, on May 21, 1880, 
the long gathering storm broke, and he gave up the 
road to a receivership. 

Franklin B. Gowen wrote a very remarkable record 
in the history of Pennsylvania progress. Like many 
other men he was in advance of his time, and but 
for the large coal properties the corporation now owns, 
and which precipitated the company into bankruptcy, 
the present comparatively prosperous condition of 
the corporation, and its great promise of permanent 
prosperity in the future, would not exist. 

He was one of the most accomplished trial lawyers 
of the Pennsylvania bar, and his prosecution, con- 
viction and final execution of the Molly Maguire 
murderers, whose political power had given them every 
promise of immunity when they were prisoners at 
the bar, stands out high over all the legal attain- 
ments recorded in the jurisprudence of the State. 

Notwithstanding his failure in 1880, there was imi- 
versal confidence in the personal integrity of Gowen, 
and a decided majority of those interested in the cor- 
poration re-elected him president in 1882, but his 
resources were impaired, his credit broken, and he 
was compelled to retire again in 1884, and George 
DeB. Keim was chosen president, but in sixmotiths 
thereafter was compelled to yield to a second receiver- 

In January, 1886, Mr. Gowen was again, for the 
third time, c^ed to the presidency. There was faith 
in the man, faith in his imfaltering belief, in his great 

1 64 Old Time Notes 

work and in himself, but he was confronted with 
insuperable obstacles, and after serving nine months 
he was compelled to confess that he could not reha- 
bilitate his great corporation. He retired and was 
succeeded by Austin Corbin, whose advent was fol- 
lowed by an assessment of $io a share. This simply 
gave a Uttle fresh financial vigor to the corporation, 
without placing it anjnvhere in sight of a solid basis. 

Corbin struggled for four years without success, 
when he gave way to A. A. McLeod, who started 
out on what seemed to be a most brilliant career, leas- 
ing the Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, 
extending his lines throughout the entire length of 
New England, and making himself president of one 
of the largest systems of the continent, but he had a 
very brief season of apparent success, as in less than 
three years from the time he entered upon the office 
of president, the third financial storm broke over 
the ill-fated Reading, the share and security holders 
of the Reading alone losing $40,000,000 in a single 

The corporation was then placed in the hands of 
receivers, and Chief Justice Paxson, of our supreme 
court, resigned his position to serve as president of 
the board of three receivers, as it was then generally 
accepted that the corporation must remain in the 
hands of receivers until it could be placed upon a 
sound financial basis. In December, 1895, another 
assessment of $10 a share was levied upon the stock, 
and in 1896 the whole property of the corporation 
was sold by order of the United States Circuit Court, 
and reorganized under the franchise of its old charter, 
and the name changed to Reading Railway Company. 

After President Gowen's second attempt to reha- 
bilitate the company, and after he had been called to 
the presidency for the third time, he seemed to have 

Of Pennsylvania 165 

given up all hope of ever reaching the fulfillment of 
his bright dreams of the success of the enterprise to 
which he had devoted the best years of his life with 
tmfaltering fidelity. He ceased to be a factor in Read- 
ing affairs and was imknown and imfelt in its direction* 

I saw him riiany times in the retirement that he 
then sought as he quietly devoted himself to the 
practice of his profession, when he would visibly 
struggle to bring the old fascinating smile back on 
his finely molded face, but he could not conceal the 
heartsore that was steadily draining his vitals, and I 
was not greatly surprised one morning, when on a visit 
to Washington, where I met him the evening before, 
to learn that in a moment of utter despair, with his 
own hand, he had sent the deadly bullet crashing into 
his own brain. 

In 1893 the Reading Railway went into the hands 
of Chief Justice Edward W. Paxon, Joseph S. Harris 
and John Lowber Welsh, as receivers, with Harris 
as president of the company. Two unsuccessful 
attempts had been made to obtain control of the 
Central Railroad of New Jersey, and thereby secure 
a line of railway to New York. Both Mr. Gowen 
and Mr. McLeod failed in their efforts, because the 
plan of leasing was declared illegal. In the winter 
of 1900 Mr. George F. Baer advised a ptirchase of a 
majority of stock of the Central Railroad of New 
Jersey by the Reading Company. This was done 
in December, 1900. 

Mr. Harris continued as president of the company 
tintil 1 90 1, when he was succeeded by George F. Baer, 
the present incumbent, who brought to his position 
preeminent ability and executive qualities, the ripest 
legal training and practical business experience, with 
a thorough knowledge of all the ramifications pf the 
Reading system. 

i66 Old Time Notes 

He was bom in the mountains of Somerset County 
in 1 842 . At the age of thirteen he learned the printing 
trade in the office of the Somerset ** Democrat." 
Later, with his brother Henry, he became the owner of 
the paper. His brother enlisted when the war began, 
and he remained at home for a year, during which 
time he conducted the paper and studied law at night. 
A year later, when he was twenty years of age, he 
raised a company of volunteers, was chosen captain, 
hastened to the front, and served in Humphrey's 
division of the Army of the Potomac, and partici- 
pated in all the engagements of that army, beginning 
with the second battle of Bull Run and ending at 
Chancellorsville, where he was detailed as adjutant 
general of the Second Brigade. 

He returned from the war in 1864, resumed his 
legal studies, was admitted to the Bar, and in 1868 
he removed to Reading, where he rapidly rose to dis- 
tinction in his profession. In 1870 he became local 
cotmsel for the Reading Company, and for a ntmiber 
of years managed its great iron property in that city 
with great success. He soon became a director of the 
company, but he differed from President McLeod in 
his rapid expansion policy and resigned from the 
management. He had for years been the confidential 
legal adviser of J. Pierpont Morgan in all matters 
relating to his Pennsylvania interests, and when the 
new reorganization was completed, in April, 1901, 
he was chosen president of the Reading Company and 
also of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. 

He is in hearty accord with the general railroad 
policy of the country that has perfected railroad 
combinations which give some assurance of safety 
to the thousands of millions of railway securities 
held by the people of this country, and with him 
aX the head of this corporation the highest measure 

Of Pennsylvania 167 

of public confidence is commanded for its future. 
He has been more largely in public evidence during 
the labor and railway troubles of late years than 
any of the other railroad magnates, and he was made 
so not only because his company was more imme- 
diately interested, but because he was regarded as 
the safest representative of his class to meet the new 
and threatening conditions which confronted it. 

He was at times criticised as needlessly bold in his 
utterences, but he has not given a public expression 
relating to the trouble which confronted transpor- 
tation companies that was not well considered, and 
that was not wisely made. He is very thorough in 
all the details of whatever business is entrusted to 
him; thoroughly safe and conservative, without the 
narrowness that is so often associated with those 
qualities, and there is not a railroad president in the 
cotmtry who more thoroughly understands the re- 
sources and capabilities of his corporation, or who 
could give more intelligent, tireless devotion to the 
performance of his official trust. 

With his important system protected from the 
policy of irresponsible cut- throats, as now seems to be 
accomplished, the holders of Reading securities have 
the best assurance that their great property is certain 
to advance steadily in prosperity, assuring the best 
results alike to the public and to investors. 

The Reading Railway, although in advance of the 
Pennsylvania Company, was a close second to the 
now greatest of our railway corporations in establish- 
ing the mastery of railway transportation in Penn- 
sylvania, and the company that was foimded with 
the single idea of having a downhill railway from 
the anthracite coal region to the Philadelphia market, 
now not only ramifies into every center of the anthra- 
cite region, but has its through line to the lakes, to 

i68 Old Time Notes 

the great commercial emporiima of New York, and to 

the seashore at Atlantic City. 

With all the rapid growth of railroad development 
it stands second in our great Commonwealth in the 
wonderful achievements begun in 1846 to change 
our transportation system from the turnpike and 
canal to the railway train, tintil the song of the iron 
horse is heard in aimost every valley and on every 
hill top of Pennsylvania. 

• •• 

• •• • 

• •• 

• • 

••• •- 

• t • • 



Of Pennsylvania 169 


Shtink Re-elected in 1847 — ^Johnston Chosen a Whig Senator at same 
Election — Whig Contest for Governor between General Irvin and 
Representative Cooper — Irvin Nominated and Defeated — Shunk's 
Health Broken into Hopeless Decline in Winter of 1848 — ^Johnston 
made Speaker of the Senate at close of his First Session because 
he was Preferred for Governor — Shunk Resigned on a Sunday, the 
Last Day he could Resign to bring an Election the Same Year 
— ^Johnston became Governor — Nominated by the Whigs and Elected 
over Morris Longstreth by 297 Majority. 

GOVERNOR SHUNK was tinanimotisly nominated 
for re-election in 1847. His strength with the 
people was confessed by the Whigs, as Shtink 
was well known throughout the State as a thoroughly 
honest Governor and he commended himself to public 
favor by his severely imostentatious exhibition of 
authority. He was averse to innovations of any kind ; 
would have been appalled at any suggestion of violent 
progress, and he taught and sincerely believed that 
the simplest government, the government that gov- 
erned least, was always the best. The Democrats, 
still smarting under the severe defeat of 1846, realized 
that they had a desperate battle before them to re-elect 
Shimk in 1847. The Democratic organization of that 
day was led l3y men of great ability with ripe expe- 
rience in politics, and with a fidelity to the party 
interests that is seldom seen in the modem manage- 
ment of the organization. 

The Whigs were very confident of defeating Shimk 
and winning control of the State government, and 
a very animated contest wa^ made for the Whig 

I70 Old Time Notes 

nomination by the friends of ex-Congressman James 
Cooper, of Adams, and of ex-Congressman James 
Irvin, of Centre. Cooper was then speaker of the 
house and had. previously served in Congress. He 
was a very ready and much more than ordinarily 
strong debater and was pointed to by the Whigs 
generally as one of the few able campaigners of the 
party. His cause was championed by the more 
aggressive Whigs, who insisted that the old rule of 
keeping candidates tinder cover during campaigns 
should be abandoned and that Cooper should be given 
the flag of the party with the assurance that he would 
canvass the State on the hustings from Lake Erie to 
the Delaware. 

Cooper was a native of Maryland, but had located 
at Gettysburg soon after he was admitted to the bar, 
had practised there when Stevens was at the zenith 
of his power, and he very heartily entered into the 
contest for the Whig nomination, openly declaring 
that the candidate should make his plea directly to 
the people in every part of the State. General Irvin 
was an ironmaster of considerable wealth at that 
time, although he died poor some years later. He 
was a man of high character, of broad, practical 
intelligence, but painfully modest on public occasions, 
and could not deliver a campaign speech. 

The contest between Irvin and Cooper was one of 
the most earnest in the history of the Whig party. 
It was conceded that Cooper could take the stump, 
while Irvin could not, but it was clained by Irvin *s 
friends that he most distinctly represented the in- 
dustrial interests of the State which had been pros- 
trated by the tariff of 1846, and that sentiment 
finally prevailed by a decided majority. The elec- 
tion of delegates in the city of Philadelphia was 
held but a short time before the meeting of the con- 

Of Pennsylvania 171 

vention; the business men of the city gave nearly a 
iinited support to Irvin and he carried nearly, if not 
quite, a solid delegation. The decision of Philadelphia 
ended the contest and Irvin was nominated on the 
first ballot. Cooper appeared in the convention and 
declared that he would look above the candidate to 
the flag of the party and give his best efforts to win 
the victory. 

The Whig party had many highly respectable 
leaders, but at no time in its history in Pennsylvania 
could the Whig leaders cope with the Democratic 
leaders in practical politics. Indeed, the Whig party 
was the most delectable organization that ever existed. 
It was so highly respectable that it seldom won elec- 
tions, but was pre-eminent in leading an opposition 
to Democratic authority. Had the Whigs made an 
aggressive campaign in 1847 i^ ^s quite likely that 
they would have won out, but they committed the 
strange and fatal blunder of deciding upon a very 
quiet canvass, assuming that the industrial people 
of the State were sufficiently interested to vote with- 
out great demonstrations, and hoping thereby to get 
the Democratic party at an advantage, as it would 
be lulled into security by the apparent inactivity of 
the Whigs. 

Thomas E. Franklin, of Lancaster, later attorney 
general, was chairman of the Whig State committee, 
and did little more than send circidars to the coimty 
and district leaders of the State, advising them to 
make no demonstration of aggressive interest in the 
campaign, but to quietly see that the Whig voters 
were brought to the polls. The Democrats were then, 
as they have always been when the Democratic party 
was in anything approaching a hopeful condition, 
natural voters, and voted much more readily than 
the Whigs. The result was that the Democrats 

172 Old Time Notes 

arotised their voters, brought them squarely into line, 
and re-elected Shunk by over 17,000 majority. 

This election brought very prominently into public 
life William F. Johnston, of Armstrong County. He 
was originally a Democrat, and was elected to the 
house in 1840 as an Independent Democrat opposed 
to the financial policy of Van Buren. During the 
session of 1841. when the credit of the State trembled 
in the balance, he became the most aggressive leader 
of those who battled for the maintenance of State 
credit, and he was largely the author of the novel 
relief measure that was passed in 1841, and which 
solved the problem of maintaining the credit of the 
Commonwealth. He acted with the Whig party 
after that period, and in 1847 was nominated by the 
Whigs for the senate in a district that was strongly 
Democratic, but his personal popularity and adroit 
political management gave him the victory. 

I well remember the attention that his appearance 
attracted in the senate when the body met in January, 
1848. He was altogether the most imposing and 
attractive personality of the body, and, although 
there were many other able Whig leaders in the senate, 
he was deferred to as a leader from the first, and he 
became the practical leader of the majority of the 
body rather by invitation than by assumption. 

The senate at the close of the session elected a 
speaker to serve during the recess, so that in case of 
a vacancy in the office of the Governor the speaker 
of the senate could succeed to the executive chair. 
It was an almost universal custom to elect as speaker 
at the close of each session one who had served two 
terms, and thus would be eligible to re-election at 
the meeting of the next Legislature and serve his 
last session as speaker of the body. 

Jn no instance that I can recall had any party in 

Of Pennsylvania 173 

the senate . before that time chosen as speaker at the 
end of the session a senator who was serving only 
in his first year; but new conditions arose soon after 
the meeting of the Legislature by the evident rapid 
decline of the health of Governor Shunk. Soon after 
his re-election, in the previous October, he developed 
an affection of the Itmgs, and the disease ran a rapid 
course, so that before the close of the session in the 
spring of 1848 it was imiversally accepted that in 
choosing the speaker of the senate to serve during 
the recess the man so chosen would become Governor 
of the State. 

It was a rare compliment to Senator Johnston to find 
the old Whig leaders, with ripe legislative experience, 
give way to him for the speakership solely because 
he was regarded as the man most eminently fitted 
to fill the executive chair. This consideration, and 
this alone, called Johnston to the speakership of the 
body at the close of the session, and within two 
months after the adjournment the death of Governor 
Shimk called Johnston to the executive office. 

Shunk had rapidly declined in health tmtil the 9 th 
of July, when a sudden and severe hemorrhage of 
the lungs utterly prostrated him and indicated unmis- 
takably that he had but a few hours to live. It was 
Sunday and the last day on which Governor Shunk 
could vacate the Governorship to assure an election 
for his successor at the next annual election in October. 
The Constitution required that the vacancy must 
occur at least three calendar months before election 
day to enable the people to fill the office at the next 
general election, and July 9 was just three calendar 
months before the October election. 

Governor Shimk was in the possession of all his 
mental faculties and fully imderstood that his end 
was close at hand, and he dictated his letter of resigna- 

174 Old Time Notes 

tion. It was written, I believe, by the Rev. Dr. 
DeWitt, then the leading Presbyterian minister of 
The following is the text of the resignation: 

To the People of Pennsylvania: 

It having pleased Divine Providence to deprive me of the strength 
necessary to further discharge the duties of your Chief Magistrate, to 
lay me on a bed of sickness from which I am admonished by my physicians 
and my own increasing debility that I am in all human probability never 
to arise, I resolve, upon mature reflection, under a conviction of dutyi 
on this day to restore to you the trust with which your suffrages have 
clothed me, in order that you may avail yourselves of the provisions of 
the Constitution to choose a successor at the next general election. I, 
therefore, hereby resign the office of Governor of the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania, and direct this, my resignation, to be filed in the office of 
the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

The resignation was promptly filed with the secre- 
tary of the commonwealth, and the office of the 
Governor at once became vacant. Had Governor 
Shtink not resigned that day Johnston would have 
served as Governor for a year and a half, and the 
resignation met the tmiversal desire of the Democratic 
leaders to choose a Governor at the coming October 
election, not doubting that they could succeed in a 
Presidential year; but the result proved that the year 
thus fixed by Shunk's resignation for the election of 
Governor was the only one in many years when 
Johnston could have been successful. 

Although the gubernatorial office became vacant 
on the 9th of July, Speaker Johnston did not appear 
at Harrisburg until the 26th, leaving a period of seven- 
teen days in which Pennsylvania was absolutely with- 
out a Chief Executive. The same provision of the 
Constitution that provided for an election of State 
officers where vacancies occurred three months before 
the general fall election, was mandatory upon the 

Of Pennsylvania 175 

acting Governor to issue the writ for an election, and 
the statute enacted to carry these provisions of the 
Constitution into effect also provided that "the writ 
must be issued at least three calendar months before 
the election/* Thus while Governor Shimk's resigna- 
tion was fully three calendar months before the October 
election, there was no acting Governor on that day 
to issue the writ, and any day thereafter the new 
Governor could issue the writ only in direct conflict 
with the act of assembly. 

It is quite probable that Governor Johnston could 
have been entirely successful in taking advantage of 
this statutory conflict with the fundamental law to 
continue himself in the office of Governor for one year 
beyond the time he would serve as speaker of the 
senate if an election were held at the October election. 
He could not issue the writ tmtil after he had qualified 
as Governor, and after giving the subject careful 
consideration he decided that the Constitution was 
paramount and that it was his duty to issue the writ 
on the assumption that all doubts should be resolved 
in favor of the rights of the people. 

When Shunk died and Johnston became Governor 
the universal Whig sentiment of the State called for 
his nomination. Under all ordinary conditions Mr. 
Cooper, who had been defeated the year before by 
General Irvin, would have been the Whig candidate 
for Governor without a serious contest, but the fact 
that the Whigs of the senate had departed from the 
established custom of the body to make a senator, 
in his first year of service, speaker of the body solely 
because he stood over all in qualifications for the 
gubernatorial chair, prevailed tmiversally among the 
people, and Johnston was nominated as the Whig 
candidate for election by a unanimous vote. 

He showed his disposition to harmonize the Whig 

176 Old Time Notes 

element by appointing James Cooper attorney gen- 
eral, in which position Cooper served until the next 
Legislature met in January, 1849, where he appeared 
again as a representative from Adams, and was again 
chosen speaker. 

The contest for Governor in 1848 was one of the 
most earnest struggles in the history of the State. 
It was conducted on both sides on a very much higher 
plane than had been common in Pennsylvania politics. 
Johnston was his own leader and his own party man- * 
ager. He was the first candidate for Governor who 
planned and carried into execution a systematic 
canvass, meeting the people and speaking in nearly 
every county. His presence was most commanding, 
his excellent knowledge of the people enabled him to 
fraternize with them much to his advantage, and 
his plain, incisive presentation of both State and 
National questions made him one of the most enter- 
taining and instructive of public speakers. He was 
a man six feet two inches in height, and largely but 
symmetrically proportioned, with a florid countenance 
and features exhibiting exceptional individualty and 

Some of the partisan newspapers which felt that 
a campaign for Governor could not be run without 
personal scandal invented and published the story 
that Johnston was a drunkard. I heard him speak 
in one of the Juniata counties where an immense 
audience surrounded him on a beautiful afternoon, 
and after discussing State and National issues, he 
referred to the scandal that had been invented and 
published against him. His only answer was, as he 
drew his magnificent proportions up to their fullest 
height: "They call me a dnmkard; ecce homo." 
No further argument was needed to settle that scandal. 

The Democrats had nominated as his competitor 

vOf Pennsylvania 177 

Morris Longstreth, of Montgomery County, who had 
been bom and reared in the same community with 
Shunk. He was then canal commissioner, was a 
competent, faithful and eminently useful member 
of the board, and his Quaker faith was regarded as 
greatly in his favor as a canditate. He was a man 
whose public and private records were absolutely 
blameless, and the contest was singularly exempt 
from defamation, 

On the ticket with Johnston was Middleswerth as 
the Whig candidate for canal commissioner. Both 
were members of the State senate when they were 
nominated by the State convention, and Johnston 
had steadily and earnestly supported a measure de- 
manded by the mining and manufacturing regions, for 
a ten-hour labor law, while Middleswerth had as 
earnestly opposed it. When the question was before 
the senate Johnston appealed to Middleswerth to 
stand with him in support of the measure. Middles- 
werth represented the German community of Union 
Coimty where a day's labor was accepted from all as 
from daylight to dark, and he stubbornly refused to 
favor any legislation on the subject. 

There was then very aggressive agitation in the 
mining sections of the State for a ; ten-hour labor law, 
and Middleswerth 's opposition #to that law defeated 
him. Seth Clover, the Democratic candidate, suc- 
ceeded by some 3,000 majority. The contest for 
Governor was regarded as in doubt for nearly a week 
after the election, but Johnston kept very close watch 
on the returns wherever there were danger signals, 
and when the coimties were all in and finally figured 
up he was elected by 297 majority, with a Whig Legis- 
lature that precluded the possibility of ousting him 
in a contest. 

While the Democrats of the State were divided on 


178 old Time Notes 

the Presidency, as Wilmot and others of the Free 
Soil Democrats of the northern counties made an 
open fight for Van Buren, the Free Soil Democratic 
candidate against Cass, the regular nominee for 
President, they were entirely imited in support of 
Morris Longstreth for Governor. Wilmot and his 
followers took open grounds in favor of Longstreth, 
and it was a fair, square fight between two highly 
creditable candidates for Governor. Johnston's per- 
sonal and aggressive leadership doubtless told ma- 
terially in his favor, while Longstreth *s quiet absence 
from the forum and the people naturally inspired 
no enthusiasm in the personality of their candidate. 

It was the first political battle in the State in which 
a candidate for a State office had carried his own 
cause directly to the people, and Johnston was so 
superbly equipped for that duty that he certainly 
wrung victory from defeat by his own individual 
efforts in the campaign. His administration and 
general public career will require another full chapter 
of these notes. 

Of Pennsylvania 179 


One of the Greatest and Ablest Administrators ever Elected Governor — 
Cooper Elected United States Senator — Early and Bitter Estrange- 
ment between Senator and Governor — Interesting Episode in 
Deal with Senator Best, who Voted for Himself for Speaker — 
Johnston Unanimously Nominated for Re-election — He made the 
First Thorough Canvass of the State — Defeated by the Christiana 

THE great victory achieved by Governor Johnston 
made him the central figure of Pennsylvania 
politics. He was the first Whig Governor ever 
chosen by the people of the State, and the only other 
Whig who filled the gubernatorial chair was Governor 
Pollock, who was elected by a combination with the 
new secret American organization, commonly called 
the Know Nothings, when his two associates on the 
State ticket, George Darsie for canal commissioner, 
and Daniel M. Smyser for supreme judge, were both de- 
feated by a large majority. He was looked to as the man 
who had organized and won his own triumph, and he 
was very generally accepted by his party as its ac- 
knowledged leader and chieftain. 

When he was nominated for Governor by a tmani- 
mous vote, James Cooper, of Adams, who had been 
an aggressive candidate against General Irvin in 1847 
for the Whig nomination, seeing that his gubernatorial 
aspirations were utterly hopeless, withdrew from the 
field, and it was generally imderstood by the Whig 
leaders that if Johnston won out and carried the Legis- 
lature Cooper should become United States Senator. 
He was then attorney general under Johnston, but 

i8o Old Time Notes 

became a candidate for the house, was elected and 
was chosen speaker. 

The Whigs controlled both branches of the Legis- 
lature by moderate majorities, but they had as allies a 
number of Native American members from Philadel- 
phia, and they for some reason exhibited hostility to 
Cooper's election. Cooper appealed to Johnston to 
throw the influence of his administration in favor of 
Cooper's nomination and election, but Johnston refused, 
and maintained a strict neutrality in the contest. 
There were a number of Whig candidates, the most 
prominent of whom was Thaddeus Stevens, who had 
been a fellow-practitioner with Cooper for many years 
at the Adams County bar, but who had just then been 
elected to Congress from Lancaster, and Cameron, 
whose place was to be filled in the Senate, was also an 
earnest candidate, claiming that his support of the 
tariff policy should command the indorsement of the 

Cooper was naturally inclined to magnify the move- 
ments of those who were not cordially co-operating 
with him, and to cherish strong resentments. He was 
very sore over his defeat for Governor in 1847 by 
General Irvin, and certainly did not relish the sudden 
advent of Johnston, who burst upon the Whig horizon 
like a dazzling meteor and thrust all competitors to 
the rear. 

Johnston maintained a dignified neutrality in the 
senatorial contest, and when Cooper won the nomi- 
nation, and finally, with much difficulty, attained an 
election, his hostility to Johnston at once erupted like 
a fiery volcano. 

I called upon him the morning after his election to 
the Senate to congratulate him on his success, and was 
surprised to find him break out in passionate denimci- 
ation of the Governor. He said it would be a strange 

Of Pennsylvania i8i 

story to tell to the Whigs of Pennsylvania that a Whig 
United States Senator had to be elected without the 
aid of a Whig Governor. 

From that time until both disappeared from public 
life Johnston and Cooper moved in imbroken estrange- 
ment. It was wholly the fault of Senator Cooper, 
who could, and certainly should, have co-operated 
with the administration ; but he was a weak man, and 
speedily proved to all that he was unbalanced by the 
distinction he had attained. He was a fluent and 
adroit speaker, but he was not a man of forceful intel- 
lect and was greatly lacking in the important attribute 
for a political leader of well-balanced judgment. He 
petulantly opposed everything that Johnston proposed, ' 
and was naturally defeated in the selection of William 
M. Meredith for the Taylor cabinet. 

Soon after the inauguration of Taylor he nominated 
William D. Lewis, certainly the foremost merchant of 
Philadelphia in his day, for collector of the port, and 
Cooper arrayed himself in desperate hostility to Lewis' 
confirmation. He was the only Whig Senator from 
the State, and he felt that he had the power to wreak 
vengeance upon Governor Johnston by defeating 
Lewis, but after delaying the confirmation for many 
weeks and exhausting himself to secure an adverse vote 
in the Senate, Lewis was finally confirmed by a decided 
majority, and that defeat of Senator Cooper reduced 
his influence to the minimum among his fellow Whig 

He was practically imfelt in the Senate during the 
first eighteen months of his term, when he acquired new 
importance by the death of President Taylor and the 
succession of Fillmore. As Johnston and the Whigs 
generally of the State were hostile to the extension of 
slavery, and earnestly hostile to the compromise 
measures, Senator Cooper became at open variance with 

i82 Old Time Notes 

his party by supporting the compromise measures of 
1850, including the offensive fugitive slave act. As 
Johnston was defeated for re-election in 1851, Cooper 
was enabled to exert considerable influence with the 
Fillmore administration until its close in 1853, but he 
had neither support nor sympathy from the great mass 
of the Whigs of Pennsylvania. 

At the end of his term, during which there was little 
in his record to be memorable, he left the State, and 
resumed his residence at his old home in Maryland. I 
last saw him at Harrisburg in the early part of the Civil 
War, when he appeared in Governor Curtin*s office 
wearing a brand new brigadier*s uniform. He was 
evidently broken in health, and had received the 
appointment of brigadier general of volunteers without 
expecting to assign him to a command, because it was 
believed that he might exert some influence in Mary- 
land in the then desperate struggle for secession. 

He appealed to Governor Curtin to exert his influ- 
ence to have him assigned to duty, but the Governor 
had no position for him, and certainly could not ask 
for his appointment to the command of troops in the 
field, and General Cooper returned to Maryland, where 
he remained awaiting orders for a considerable period, 
and was finally assigned to duty at Camp Chase, Ohio, 
where he died in 1863. 

Governor Johnston's political master>^ in the State 
was never even seriously threatened by Senator Coop- 
er's hostility, and he was all-powerful with the National 
administration until the death of Taylor, in July, 
1850. When Fillmore suddenly changed the policy 
of the administration on the question of slavery, by 
supporting and forcing the passage of the compromise 
measures of 1850, Johnston did not in any degree con- 
ceal his hostility to the entire theory of the measures, 
and he denounced them openly and defiantly. He 

Of Pennsylvania 183 

was not only a man of iinfaltering courage, but he was 
a man of the clearest and soimdest judgment, and 
commanded the imboimded confidence of his political 

Soon after the passage of the compromise measures 
Webster, who was Secretary of State, visited Harris- 
burg and was received by the Governor and State 
authorities generally with becoming ceremony. Web- 
ster had become thoroughly infatuated with the idea 
of succeeding Fillmore as President, although his chief 
was a candidate for the same position, and he visited 
different sections of the country for the purpose of 
making speeches in defense of the compromise measures. 

When Webster was received in the hall of the house 
of representatives before a large audience the Gover- 
nor stood up in all the majesty of manhood as he intro- 
duced Webster, highly complimenting the great intel- 
lectual power of the guest, but distinctly asserting the 
great principles of freedom which were then regarded 
by himself and his followers as antagonized by the 
compromise measures. Webster spoke in a Hstless 
manner, lacking the usual force of the Great Expotmd- 
er, evidently chilled by the visible fact that he was 
addressing an unsympathetic assembly. 

Johnston's administration was one of the cleanest 
and best in the history of the Commonwealth. I re- 
gard him as the ablest administrator who has ever 
filled the gubernatorial chair, and he was called to that 
position just at a period when his thorough knowledge 
of the complicated affairs of the State and his sagacity 
in suggesting remedial measures were most needed. 

He would not have made as great a war Governor as 
Curtin did because he did not possess the botmdless 
sympathetic attributes which made Curtin 's career so 
lustrous, but he would have met every great problem 
of the war with equal wisdom and courage. He was 

i84 Old Time Notes 

the administration himself, and beyond his attorney 
general, to whom he looked at times for legal direction, 
he personally decided every question relating to the 
policy of the government. 

He startled the Legislature and the people of the 
State by proposing the gradual reduction of the State 
debt, and he was successful in carrying the measure 
providing a sinking fund that, if maintained, would 
ultimately make the State free from the crushing debt 
that had only a few years before driven the great 
Commonwealth to the very verge of repudiation. It 
is his beneficent financial policy that has been main- 
tained until to-day, when not only the entire debt of 
over $40,000,000 in Johnston's time, but all the added 
debt of the Civil War, has been practically paid, as 
the securities in the sinking fund that was of John- 
ston's creation would now liquidate the debt within a 
few hundred thousand dollars, and the surplus in the 
treasury could readily spare the balance needed to 
make Pennsylvania absolutely free from all indebt- 

The elections of 1849-50 were adverse to the Whigs 
in Pennsylvania, and Johnston had to deal with a 
Democratic house. The senate of 1851 had one Dem- 
ocratic majority. While the senate was Whig his 
administration was safe in its important financial and 
other progressive measures, but when, in the last year 
of his term, he was confronted with a Democratic 
senate, the power of the administration was seriously 
threatened. With the senate in harmony with him 
the house was impotent, and by a very shrewd political 
maneuver he won the control of the senate from the 
Democratic majority. 

There had been a long battle between Columbia 
County and what is now Montour County over the 
question of dividing old Columbia and creating the 

Of Pennsylvania 185 

new county of Montour. The two sections had become 
intensely inflamed against each other, and Valentine 
Best had been elected senator from Danville, the 
Montour end, three years before, chiefly on the issue of 
erecting the new county. It was his last session and 
his last opportimity to win out on his new cotmty 
scheme. If he remained in opposition to the State 
administration it was possible for him to pass the 
measure on a partisan issue by Democratic votes, but 
in that event he would have to run up against the 
Governor, who knew exactly how to defeat such polit- 
ical movements. 

It was finally suggested to Senator Best that there 
was one way by which he could get his new cotmty, 
and that was to make himself speaker of the senate by 
voting for himself and giving the administration the 
control of the finance and several other important 
committees. Senator Best well knew what such a 
political movement involved, and it was most humili- 
ating for him to desert his party and make himself 
speaker by his own vote, but he felt that the end 
justified the means, and he accepted the contract. 

It became whispered around that there would be 
some queer political doings when the senate was called 
to order, and the hall was crowded when the clerk 
rapped on his desk and called the new senators to be 
sworn. The Democrats had nominated J. Porter 
Brawley, of Crawford, for speaker, and the Whigs, to 
cover their contract with Best, nominated Senator 
Darsie, of Allegheny, the oldest of the Whig senators 
in service. I was fortimate in obtaining a seat quite 
close to Best, as I knew he was to be the central figure 
of the show. 

Brawley came into his seat with a most tmsteady 
gait. He knew that his defeat was inevitable, and he 
fortified himself for the ordeal by a copious supply of 

1 86 Old Time Notes 

stimulants. Brawley would not have been required to 
vote for himself if the Whigs had not made the com- 
bination with Best, as the courtesy was always ob- 
served in that body, when the contest for speaker 
was a square one between the two parties, and the 
dominant party had but one majority, for the two 
candidates for speaker each to vote for the other. 
The old-time senate many times stood 17 to 16, and 
the majority speaker was always chosen by the vote 
of the opposing candidate. 

The first ballot gave Brawley 15; Darsie, 15, with 
Brawley, Best and Darsie scattering their votes, and 
on the second ballot the Whigs voted solidly for Best, 
and Brawley received 15 Democratic votes, but Best 
had not answered when his name was called, and just 
before the clerk was about to compute and annoimce 
the vote, Senator Best rose in his place in very obvious 
confusion and asked that his name be called. 

The clerk called *' Valentine Best,'' to which the 
senator responded '* Valentine Best,*' and thus made 
himself speaker of the body. Some hisses came from 
the crowded lobby, and Brawley sat sullenly in his 
chair and refused to exhibit the usual courtesy of con- 
ducting his successful opponent to the chair, but Darsie, 
the defeated Whig candidate, promptly arose and led 
the new Speaker to the platform. 

The result was that the administration controlled 
the senate, that the Montour County bill passed the 
senate by a single vote, and finally commanded suffi- 
cient Democratic support in the house to carry it 
through, when Governor Johnston promptly gave it 
his approval. 

Best was burnt in effigy in the Coltimbia portion of 
his district, but he was heartily supported by the Mon- 
tour people. He was jef used the regular Democratic 
nomination for re-el<:^tion, and Charles R. Buckalew, 

of Pennsylvania 187 

then a young lawyer of Bloomsburg, in old Coltunbia, 
was made the regular Democratic candidate. Many 
of the Whigs of old Columbia and nearly all the people 
of Montour supported Best, who received within one or 
two of a tmanimous vote in Danville, and close to a 
tmanimous vote in the new county, but Luzerne, with 
a large Democratic majority, was part of the district, 
and Buckalew was brought to the senate to begin a 
great career as long the leading Democrat of the senate, 
as United States Senator, as foreign minister and 
finally as Congressman. 

The campaign of 185 1 for Governor aroused very 
general interest throughout the State. While there 
were a few Whigs who supported the Fillmore admin- 
istration on the slavery policy, they were absolutely 
powerless in every section of the State. 

I was a delegate in the convention that renominated 
Johnston. It met at Lancaster and was one of the 
ablest State conventions in the history of Pennsylvania 
politics. Johnston was there in person, and did not 
hesitate to declare that unless the compromise measures 
were denoimced, and General Scott declared the Whig 
candidate for President, he would not accept the nomi- 
nation. He was not an arrogant political master, but 
he knew that it was his own battle, and he wisely 
decided how it could best be won. He had nothing to 
expect from any voter who could be controlled by the 
National administration, but he had something to 
expect from the anti-slavery sentiment of the State. 

He was unanimously nominated, and it was his own 
suggestion that made John Strohm, of Lancaster, his 
associate on the ticket as the candidate for canal com- 
missioner, as Strohm represented more conspicuously 
than any other man who could have been taken the 
policy of unfaltering honesty in public trust. 

When the platform was presented by Attorney 


1 88 Old Time Notes 

General Darrah, of Allegheny, a very prominent and 
fearless leader, a single voice was heard in opposition 
to it, and that came from the brilliant Jack Ogle, of 
Somerset, who had been beaten for re-election to Con- 
gress at the previous election, and had accepted a for- 
eign mission from President Fillmore. He was an 
imtisually handsome product of the glades of the 
Alleghenies, but he was generously convivial, and when 
he arose in his shirt sleeves, the siunmer heat having 
made his coat an uncomfortable appendage, he was 
allowed to be heard, and his protest was quite as jolly 
as it was earnest, but then the platform was adopted 
without a division. 

Johnston entered into the battle in superb shape, 
and made a thorough canvass of the entire State. His 
competitor. Senator Bigler, of Clearfield, was a clean 
and able man, but lacking Johnston's positive indi- 
viduality. Both were heard from day to day by great 
assemblies of people, and Johnston had his battle fairly 
won until the Christiana riots. 

A few weeks before the election Mr. Gorsuch, of 
Maryland, with his son and a posse, came to Christiana, 
in Chester County, to capture several of his slaves, 
who were then fugitives. The result was a riot, in 
which Grorsuch was killed and his son seriously wound- 
ed. It was proved in the trial of Castner Hanway 
and others for treason, growing out of that riot, that 
Gorsuch had madly braved a negro mob, after having 
been notified by the mob that they would kill him if 
he attempted to enter the house in which the slaves 
were hiding, but the murder of a claimant for his own 
property, acting in accordance with the laws of the 
nation, caused a very serious revulsion in the commer- 
cial and business circles of the State. 

Philadelphia then had the largest Southern trade 
of any of the Northern cities, and interwoven with it 

Of Pennsylvania 189 

were large business interests throughout the entire 
Commonwealth. It called to the front a class then 
known as Whig ** Doughfaces," who regarded com- 
merce as more important than political faith, and they 
went bodily to the support of Bigler. Johnston 
bravely struggled to stem the tide by issuing a proc- 
lamation offering a liberal reward for the detection 
and conviction of the murderers of Gorsuch, but the 
breach could not be healed, and Johnston was defeated 
by 8,000 majority. 

He retired from office standing head and shoulders 
over all the Whig leaders of Pennsylvania, and was 
recognized throughout the entire country as one of 
the great men of the Whig organization. Had he been 
patient and bided his time he would have been called 
to high official trust, but he became engulfed in the 
Know Nothing political maelstrom of 1854. In 1858, 
after a few years* residence in Allegheny, he staked 
everything in a contest for the nomination for Con- 
gress, but was defeated by J. K. Moorehead, and there- 
after his political career was erratic and his business 
career ended. 

His last appearance in politics clearly indicated that 
he had ceased to be a political factor. He was nomi- 
nated for collector of the port of Philadelphia by Presi- 
dent Johnson, but was rejected by the Senate. He had 
outlived the great career for which his uncommon 
abilities so eminently fitted him, and he was unknown 
and unfelt in the political movements of the State of 
which he was once the grandest of masters. 

On the 25 th of October, 1872, the bruised reed was 
broken, and the once great administrator of Pennsyl- 
vania passed to the tmknown beyond, that, like the 
Pontic Sea, has no returning ebb. 

19© Old Time Notes 


Chief Justice Gibson, Governor William Bigler of Pennsylvania, and 
Governor John Bigler of California, all in Office at the same time. 
Born in the same Immediate Community — Judge Campbell 
Defeated for Supreme Judge and made Attorney General, and 
later Postmaster General — His Appointment Strengthened the 
Native American Element that was Opposed to Catholics — 
Bigler's Early Career — Thrice Elected Senator — His Heroic Veto 
of Bank Bills — The Know Nothing Legislature of 1855 — Battle 
between Cameron and Curtin — Failure to Elect a Senator — Bigler's 
Defeat for Governor made him United States Senator. 

WILLIAM BIGLER became Governor in January, 
1852, when the conditions of trade and in- 
dustry were greatly improved, giving him 
unusual opportunity to make a successful adminis- 
tration, and no Governor in the history of the State 
could have more intelligently directed the govern- 
ment to the best interests of the people. 

He was bom in the little community of Shermans- 
burg, now Perry County, close to the home of my 
boyhood. It was a very primitive and sparsely 
settled section, but the eyes of the people always 
brightened when they spoke of the distinguished 
public men it had furnished to the country in Chief 
Justice John Bannister Gibson, Governor William 
Bigler, of Pennsylvania, and Governor John Bigler, 
of California, all of whom were in office at one time. 

William Bigler was elected Governor of Penn- 
sylvania in 1 85 1, and on the same ticket with him 
was John Bannister Gibson, then chief justice of the 
State, who was continued on the elective supreme 

Of Pennsylvania 191 

court, and just one month before the election of Bigler 
and Gibson in Pennsylvania, John Bigler was elected 
Governor of California. John Bigler became foreign 
minister after serving two terms as Governor, and 
William Bigler became United States Senator. It 
was certainly a remarkable development of the great- 
ness achieved by these bare-footed boys of Sher- 
man's Valley. 

Pennsylvania has had Governors of stronger intel- 
lectual force than Bigler, but I never knew a public 
man who had better command of all his faculties or 
could apply them to more profitable uses. He was 
a man of very clear conception and unusually sound 
judgment, with a severe conscientiousness that made 
him heroic in defense of the right. He was a man of 
tmusually fine presence, of a most amiable and genial 
disposition, and delightful in companionship, but no 
influence or interest could swerve him from his con- 
victions of duty in official trust. 

He was a careful student, an intelligent observer 
of men and events, and thoroughly mastered every 
question that confronted him in the discharge of his 
political duties. He was not an aggressive man in 
the general acceptation of the term, but his conserva- 
tism never restrained him in aiding legitimate prog- 
ress, and no cleaner man ever filled the executive 
chair of Pennsylvania. 

When Bigler entered the office of Governor he had 
a very serious political problem to solve arising from 
the defeat of Judge James Campbell, of Philadel- 
phia, who was on the State ticket with Bigler in 1851. 
Judge Campbell was then on the common pleas bench 
of the city, and justly regarded as a man of high legal 
attainments. He was rather a profound than a 
brilliant man, and his sagacity as a political leader 
was confessed by all the prominent men of his party. 

192 Old Time Notes 

There was factional opposition to him within the 
Democratic ranks, and that opposition was strength- 
ened, if not largely created, by the fact that he was 
a Catholic, and the Philadelphia riots of 1844, which 
gave birth to the Native American party, had left 
religious prejudices which often outweighed poUtical 
fidelity. At that time the Catholics of the State were 
nearly tiniformly of the Democratic faith, and it was 
deemed not only a wise but a necessary policy to have 
one Catholic out of the seven candidates on the State 
ticket, as there were a Governor, canal commissioner 
and five supreme judges to be chosen. Considerable 
opposition was manifested to Campbell's nomination, 
but he was successful. 

I was a member of the convention that nominated 
the Whig State ticket, presenting Johnston for re-elec- 
tion as Governor, John Strohm for canal commis- 
sioner, and Meredith, Jessup, Comley, Chambers 
and Coulter for the supreme court. I well remember 
the discussion of the best method for the Whigs to 
utilize in the opposition to Judge Campbell. If they 
nominated five Whig candidates for supreme judge, 
the opposition to Campbell would be scattered along 
the line of five, or perhaps simply strike Campbell 
from the ballot, and it was decided to nominate as one 
of the Whig candidates Justice Coulter, then on the 
bench, but not nominated by the Democrats. Al- 
though a Democrat in faith, he was not a partisan, 
but an unusually able and faithful judge, and by 
placing him on the Whig ticket the opposition to 
Campbell was concentrated on a single man, as they 
would naturally prefer to vote for a Democrat, and 
Coulter was the only man on the Whig State ticket 
who was elected. 

The defeat of Judge Campbell threatened serious 
results to the Democratic party, and Bigler made 

• • • » 
• •* 

Of Pennsylvania 193 

the best atonement for the wrong done to Judge 
Campbell within his own party household by making 
him attorney general, a position that Campbell 
filled with great credit. When Pierce was inaugu- 
rated President in 1853, the Democratic leaders of 
the State thought it wise to emphasize their religious 
tolerance by making Campbell a member of the new 
cabinet, and he became Pierce's Postmaster General, 
and discharged the duties of the office with great 
fidelity and ability, but his appointment to the Na- 
tional cabinet, and especially to the one position that 
controlled tens of thousands of appointments, aided 
very materially in the second Native American eruption 
that came in the shape of Know Nothingism in 1854. 

Campbell lived many years after his retirement 
from the cabinet and was one of the most accomp- 
lished and trusted leaders and advisers of the Demo- 
cratic party, but he never sought further political 
favors. He was a most energetic man, even when 
he reached the patriarchal age, and he filled such 
important positions in the city as a member of the 
Board of City Trusts and in the direction of Girard 
College, in all of which he gave the most assiduous de- 
votion to public duty. 

Governor Bigler's training had been well calculated 
to develop the very best attributes of manhood. He 
graduated as a printer's apprentice, and with his 
brother John published the Belief onte "Democrat" 
for some time, but a village newspaper in what was 
then almost a wilderness was not sufficient to support 
two able-bodied men, and William finally, with the 
aid of friends, got together a few hundred dollars, 
purchased a very crude second-hand printing outfit, 
loaded it upon a wagon and walked most of the way 
with the team to Clearfield, where he established 
the Clearfield * * Democrat . ' ' 


194 Old Time Notes 

It was a diffictdt undertaking, but he did all th\5 
work himself with the aid of a single apprentice, and 
attained for his paper the highest success that was 
possible within its field. He was a thorough forester, 
loved the woods, and soon learned to put something 
approaching a fair value upon the vast amount of fine 
lumber in that region. In a few years he became 
one of the largest lumber merchants of the West 
Branch, and I well remember the admiration he 
aroused among his political friends, when he was a 
member of the senate and a prospective candidate 
for Governor, by making the entire journey from 
Clearfield to Harrisburg on one of his own rafts. He 
was well equipped for the practical duties of the guber- 
natorial chair. He was a thoroughly good judge 
of men and as thoroughly familiar with every public 
question relating to the interests of the State. 

Governor Bigler did more than any other one man 
in his day to save Pennsylvania from the scourge of 
an inflated wild-cat currency. Pennsylvania had en- 
tirely recovered from the terrible financial depres- 
sion of 1 84 1 when repudiation was narrowly escaped. 
Commerce, industry and trade were generally quick- 
ened, and the discovery of gold in California, although 
then in its infancy, seemed to be furnishing an amoimt 
of the precious metal that must diffuse wealth into 
every channel of business enterprise. The few mil- 
lions of gold that California produced in 185 1 were 
regarded as tenfold more important than all the 
twentyfold increase of gold and silver now produced 
in the West. The feeling was very general that a 
sweeping tide of prosperity was approaching, and a 
deluge of applications for bank charters came upon 
the Legislature during Bigler 's first year. 

The legislators were fully in sympathy with the 
prospective tide of wealth that was dazzling the 

Of Pennsylvania 195 

people, and they passed bank charters by the score, 
and all without any individual liability or security 
for depositors beyond the capital stock. In a single 
message Governor Bigler vetoed eleven bank charters, 
and during the session he sent to the senate or house 
thirty messages vetoing bank bills. He was tho- 
roughly familiar with the industrial interests of the 
State and knew how easily the people would be tempted 
from the ordinary channels of industry by hope of 
suddenly acquired wealth, without pausing to con- 
sider that the floodtide of irresponsible banks, prac- 
tically without limit as to the issue of currency, would 
produce a most unhealthy inflation that could end 
only in terrible disaster. 

He was the first Governor who made an appeal 
to the Legislatiu'e to halt what was known as log- 
rolling or omnibus legislation, by which a bank charter 
could be made an amendment to a bill for the removal 
of a local schoolhouse, and insisted that he should 
have the right to consider every different featiu'e of 
legislation upon its own merits. He proposed also 
in the same message two amendments, which have 
since been adopted in our Constitution, relating to 
legislation, requiring each bill to contain but a single 
subject, and to be passed by a majority vote of each 
house on a call of ayes and nays. 

Bigler had served three terms in the Senate, elected 
each time practically without a contest, and although 
he peremptorily declined at the end of his second 
term, and sent delegates from his county in favor of 
another candidate, the delegates from the other coun- 
ties of the district gave a unanimous vote for him 
and he was compelled to continue legislative service. 
The prominent position he occupied in the senate 
had thoroughly famiUarized him with all matters 
relating to State government, and, next to Governor 

196 Old Time Notes 

Johnston, I doubt whether any man ever filled the 
position who was more completely equipped for shap- 
ing legislation and administering the State govern- 
ment. His administration commanded not only the 
respect, but the hearty approval of his party, and 
even his political opponents, however earnestly they 
may have differed with him, held in high esteem his 
ability and integrity, and when he was nominated for 
re-election in 1854 by the unanimous vote of the con- 
vention, given with the heartiest enthusiasm, there 
did not seem to be a cloud on the Democratic horizon 
even as large as a man's hand to threaten him with 
the tempest that swept him out of office by nearly 
40,000 majority. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise by a Demo- 
cratic Congress aroused the anti-slavery sentiment 
that largely pervaded the Democratic ranks in every 
section of the State and brought out the first distinct 
miuTTiurs of revolt, and the sudden organization of 
the American or "Know Nothing" party, with the 
Whig party practically on the verge of its death 
throes, found a wide field with loose aggregations of 
both Whigs and Democrats, and these elements were 
adroitly combined against Bigler in favor of James 
Pollock, who succeeded him. 

It was a most humiliating defeat, and at the time 
seemed to bring hopeless destruction to his political 
career, but just as the defeat of Judge Campbell for 
supreme judge made him attorney general and 
Postmaster General, the defeat of Bigler for Governor 
made him United States Senator and one of the great 
national leaders of his party during the Buchanan 

The Know Nothing tritimph of 1854 practically 
ended the Whig organization, as probably three- 
fourths of its people had become involved in the new 

Of Pennsylvania 197 

American party. It had made a somewhat earnest 
battle for General Scott for President in 1852, but it 
was hopeless from the start, and I do not remember 
any one, excepting General Scott himself, who believed 
it possible for him to carry Pennsylvania or to win 
the Presidency. 

I saw him in the heat of the battle, even after 
Pennsylvania had voted Democratic in October by 
an overwhelming majority, and he did not doubt 
his tritimphant election, and was as confident of 
carrying Pennsylvania as he was of the rising of the 
sun, but one of his jtinior brigadiers from civil life, 
who served imder him in Mexico without attaining 
military distinction, swept the country like a hiuri- 
cane, leaving Scott but four States of the Union. 
The Whig organization was maintained in 1853, when, 
for some reason that I never could fully tmderstand, 
I was made the nominee of the party for auditor 
general. I had not been spoken of as a candidate, 
had no thought of it mysetf , but Morton McMichael 
headed the Philadelphia delegation and he took the 
liberty of presenting my name to the convention in 
one of his fervently eloquent speeches, and the result 
was that I had the honor of being in with the Whig 
party at its death. 

The American, or Know Nothing, movement brought 
into the Legislature at Harrisburg the most Dolly 
Varden political job lot that I have ever seen in Penn- 
sylvania. The secret Know Nothing organization 
surprised nearly every coimty in the State by electing 
senators and representatives whose outside friends 
never dreamed of their success. 

My first knowledge of this unique organization was 
obtained in a Chambersburg mimicipal election. The 
town was largely Whig, and we went through the 
regular motion^ of nominating Whig candidates fpr 


198 Old Time Notes 

burgess, councilmen, etc., and sat down entirely 
confident that they would be elected, as the Demo- 
crats were making no opposition, but our surprise 
may be understood when I state the fact that when 
the vote was counted an entire ticket was elected 
not one of whom was publicly known as a candidate. 
Even the great Whig Gibraltar of Lancaster Coimty 
was dumfounded when the election returns were 
footed up and it was discovered that H. M. North, a 
Democrat, was elected to the Legislature in a square 

This system of politics invited all the mean methods 
of mean men, and the result was that a motley crowd 
of shady Democrats and Republicans, including a 
pretty large number of local preachers, appeared in 
the Legislature. It was without able or responsible 
leadership, although there were a number of very 
good men who owed their election to the new polit- 
ical power, and the entire session was simply a 
series of desperate scrambles for political and personal 

General Cameron had made a speech in favor of 
Bigler in Harrisburg the night before the election, 
but before the Legislature met, when he found that 
the Know Nothings controlled both branches of the 
Legislature, he turned up as a full-fledged member 
of the order, and became an aggressive candidate 
for United States Senator. Andrew G. Curtin, then 
secretary of the commonwealth under Pollock, was 
also an aggressive candidate for Senator, and was 
supported by many of the best old Whigs and espe- 
cially by the younger element of the new political 
combination. Efforts were made to unite the party 
vote by a caucus, but it failed, and the result was the 
most disgraceful free-for-all fight for the senatorship 
that has ever been witnessed at Harrisburg. 

Of Pennsylvania 199 

Cameron and Curtin were the leading candidates 
from beginning to end, but there were a dozen or more 
of side-show aspirants who injected themselves into 
the fight at various stages, some of whom had their 
bank accounts very greatly depleted, and the battle 
grew in bitterness with each recurring day. One 
of the most defamatory utterances ever issued against 
General Cameron was prepared, signed and published 
over the names of a score or more very prominent 
members of both branches. The Legislature was 
not then required by the National law to meet in con- 
vention every day tmtil the Senator was elected, but 
the joint convention would ballot three or four times 
for Senator and then adjourn to meet at a given day, 
probably a week later. This was continued until 
nearly the close of the session, when all had become 
disgusted with the hopeless and demoralizing conflict 
and the motion to adjourn without day was carried. 

The Legislature thus adjourned without choosing 
a Senator, and the Democrats had an easy task in 
the fall of 1855 to elect their State ticket and both 
branches of the Legislature. There were many Demo- 
crats who would have been more than willing to con- 
test senatorial honors with Governor Bigler, but 
they met with no encouragement. The Democratic 
sentiment of the State was overwhelming that the 
man who had been so ruthlessly crucified by Know 
Nothingism, as rapid in its death as it was in its birth, 
should have the nomination, and Governor Bigler 
was nominated with great enthusiasm, and he was 
thus given a full term in the Senate, less the few 
weeks intervening between the meeting of Congress 
on the first Monday of December and his election on 
the third Tuesday of January. 

Bigler's career in the Senate showed that he was 
equal to the mastery of the gravest National problems, 

200 Old Time Notes 

and his sound judgment and conservative aims gave 
him great power to aid in the election of James Buch- 
anan, his favorite candidate for the Presidency. His 
personal devotion to Buchanan made him resolve 
all doubts in favor of supporting the President in his 
battle with Douglas, and that led to his support 
of the sadly-mistaken policy of the administration in 
the Kansas-Nebraska disputes, although Senator 
Bigler always sought to temper the desperate policy 
of his associate leaders. He visited Kansas personally, 
and in perfect good faith appealed to the Free State 
men to come to the front, as they seemed to have 
the majority, but they had been overwhelmed by 
hordes from Missouri, and they refused to accept his 

Taking his career as a whole in the Senate, it was 
eminently creditable, and after his retirement he 
continued to exhibit the liveliest interest in all public 
affairs. He was one of the leading men in the direc- 
tion of the Centennial Exposition, and labored most 
earnestly and unselfishly to promote its success. 

Although he never made public utterance on the 
subject, nothing would have gratified him so much 
as to have been recalled to the gubernatorial chair of 
the State. In 1875, when the Democratic conven- 
tion was in session in Erie, and had what seemed to 
be an almost hopeless wrestle with a number of can- 
didates, he was hopeful and anxious that he might 
be accepted as a compromise between disputing fac- 
tions. He was in my editorial office waiting for 
despatches from the Erie convention, and when I 
handed him the despatch annotincing the nomina- 
nation of Judge Pershing, he accepted it gracefully, 
and I doubt whether any other saw the expression 
of disappointment that he did not conceal from me 
when he felt that his last opportimity had failed. 

Of Pennsylvania 

20 1 

He continued active in State affairs as well as in 
church, charitable and social matters in his own com- 
munity, and when his life work was done no man 
who has ever lived in the Clearfield region was fol- 
lowed to his last resting place by so large and so sincere 
a concourse of mourners. 

202 Old Time Notes 


Repeal of the Missouri Compromise and Expiring Agonies of the Whig 
Party Created a Strong Know Nothing Organization Opposed to 
Foreigners and Catholics — ^The Secret Know Nothing Party Organ- 
ized as "The Sons of '76, or Order of the Star Spangled Banner*' — 
Judge Conrad Elected Mayor by the Know Nothings — His Brilliant 
Literary Work — His Desperate Struggle to get a Uniformed Police — 
Know Nothings Organize as the American Party and Nominate 
Fillmore for President against Fremont — ^The Repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise. 

GOVERNOR BIGLER'S administration was uni- 
versally acceptable to his party and even his 
most earnest poUtical opponents found little 
ground for criticism in the record he had made, but 
when he came up for re-election, two entirely new 
and tmexpected factors confronted him, and doomed 
him to a most humiliating defeat on issues which 
had no relation whatever to the administration of 
State affairs. The two causes which unhorsed him 
in the sweeping revolution were first, the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise by a Democratic Congress 
and President, and second, the advent of the secret 
American, or Know Nothing, party. 

The American, or Know Nothing, organization that 
became such an important political power in 1854, 
was the culmination of various spasmodic Native 
American organizations beginning in New York as 
early as 1835, and extending to Philadelphia and 
Boston. The original Native American organization 
of New York was directed wholly against foreigners, 
and was provoked by the large number of foreigners 

Of Pennsylvania 203 

who held positions on the police force and in other 
city departments. It never made itself felt as a 
controllmg political factor in New York until the 
spring of 1844, when it elected James Harper, one 
of the original firm of Harper & Brothers, publishers, 
as mayor of the city over both the Democratic and 
Whig candidates, and carried a majority in every 
branch of the city government. 

Opposition to Catholics was not at that time an 
avowed article of Native American faith, but the 
success of the Native Americans, controlling the entire 
city government of New York in the spring of 1844, 
greatly inspired the Native Americans of Philadelphia, 
and an issue in an uptown section of the city over 
the question of reading the Bible in the public schools 
led to such an inflamed condition of public sentiment 
that the city was disgraced by what is remembered 
as the Native American riots of 1844, i^^ which a num- 
ber of lives were lost, and several Catholic churches 
and institutions burnt. This issue arose in probably 
tho least religious section of the city, and a large 
majority of the Protestants who fought out the ques- 
tion of reading the Bible in the public schools to riot 
and the burning of Catholic churches, would not have 
known the difference between the Protestant and 
Catholic Bible if it had been placed in their hands, and 
cared httle for the strictly religious issue that was 

It was the experience of 1844 in Philadelphia that led 
to the incorporation of the anti-Catholic plank into 
the Native American faith, and from that time imtil 
the order entirely disappeared from local or general 
politics, opposition to Catholicism was even a more 
vital issue with most of the members of the organiza- 
tion than opposition to foreigners. At the fall elec- 
tions of 1844 the Native Americans carried New York 

204 Old Time Notes 

and Philadelphia cities with material aid from the 
Whigs, and they remained an important element at 
times in both local and State politics in Pennsylvania 
for a number of years. 

The Native American party was an open political 
organization, but when its power was visibly waning 
in both Philadelphia and New York, a new and secret 
party was organized out of the remains of the old 
Native American known as "The Order of United 
Americans," but that organization did not attempt 
to exploit itself in general politics, although it made 
itself felt in local contests, and, after lingering in poli- 
tics for a few years, it was supplanted by a new secret 
order that started in 1852. 

The name of the order was **The Sons of '76, or 
Order of the Star Spangled Banner," but the name 
was not made known to the members of the organiza- 
tion until they were admitted to its higher degrees, 
and all were instructed that if asked about the organi- 
zation they should answer that they knew nothing 
about it. This gave rise to the title of Know Noth- 
ings, by which the organization was popularly known 
throughout the period of its existence. It wore no 
badges, displayed no banners, meetings were held in 
the utmost privacy and called by a signal understood 
only by the initiated. Each lodge had its delegates 
who constituted a council with power to nominate 
all candidates, and every member was sworn to sup- 
port the candidates thus nominated under penalty 
of expulsion if they failed to do so. 

This organization would probably never have been 
known beyond an occasional assertion of power in 
local contests in our cities, but for the general demor- 
alization of the Democratic party caused by the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the general 
distintegration of the Whig party that was then in its 

Of Pennsylvania 205 

dying agonies. The appointment of Judge Campbell, 
a prominent Catholic, to the National cabinet in 1853, 
intensified the anti-Catholic sentiment, and added 
largely to the ntimbers of the new secret party, and 
this new political party, with the Whig party in the 
throes of dissolution and the Democratic party split 
wide open on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 
had a most fruitful field in which to harvest an im- 
mense increase of its forces. 

The first startling exhibition of the power of the 
Elnow Nothing party was given in the first municipal 
election held in Philadelphia after the consoUdation 
in 1854. Until that time Philadelphia city extended 
only from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and from 
Vine to South streets, with a goodly number of petty 
municipalities embraced in what was known as Phila- 
delphia Coimty. The contest for consolidation had 
disturbed political parties for some years, but in the 
fall of 1853 the substantial business men of the city 
decided that they could not longer trust the regular 
political organizations to accomplish consolidation, 
and they nominated an independent ticket for sena- 
tors and representatives and elected it, defeating 
the Whig candidates in the city, and sending Eli K. 
Price to the senate over Charles O 'Neill, then a sena- 
tor, and for many years a Congressman, and the repre- 
sentatives chosen were among the leading business 
men of both parties. Consolidation was thus effected 
as all parties were afraid to oppose it, and the muni- 
cipal elections were fixed for May to separate them 
entirely from the political influences of State contests. 

The Whigs nominated Robert T. Conrad for mayor, 
and the Democrats nominated Richard Vaux, who 
was then regarded as one of the strongest of the Demo- 
cratic leaders. He had been a candidate for mayor 
in 1846, but was beaten by Mayor Swift. He was a 

2o6 old Time Notes 

man of great ability, tireless energy, and devoted 
much of his life to very active participation in the 
management of our penal and charitable institutions. 
Although defeated by Conrad, he was elected over 
Henry D. Moore as the successor of Conrad in 1856, 
but he was not successful as an executive officer, and 
altogether too high-toned for practical Democratic 
politics. The result was that he suffered a humiliating 
defeat two years later, when Alexander Henry became 
mayor of the city. Vaux was for many years one 
of the unique characters of Philadelphia, universally 
respected and generally beloved, and when Samuel 
J. Randall, then father of the House, died in the 
harness, Vaux was given a practically unanimous 
election as his successor, but was defeated for re-elec- 
tion by Mr. McAleer. 

Judge Conrad, like Richard Vaux, possessed very 
few of the qualities necessary for the successful per- 
formance of administrative duties. He was one of 
the most brilliant of the then somewhat noted Phila- 
delphia circle of literary men. He was a ready, 
ornate and caustic writer, and his editorial contribu- 
tions to the ** North American*' attracted very wide 
attention, but the only two positions to which he was 
ever called happened to be public trusts for whicn 
his peculiar attainments, eminent as they were, were 
not adapted. He was one of the three judges of the 
criminal court, created by the Legislature for Philadel- 
phia, but he was entirely too poetic for dry judicial 
duties, and the cotirt soon came into such disfavor 
that it was abolished. He made a very earnest strug- 
gle to accomplish good results for the city and make 
his administration successful, but he was impatient, 
untactful and failed to command the hearty support 
of the people. 

It may surprise some of the readers of the present 

Of Pennsylvania 207 

day to know that one of the measures originating 
with him that greatly weakened his administration 
by the very general criticism it provoked, was his 
attempt to uniform the police, so that they might be 
distinguished and exercise a moral influence by their 
presence wherever they appeared, but the police 
rebelled against it, declaring a uniform to be a badge 
of servitude, and the public, then entirely tmused 
to any imiforms outside of military companies, regarded 
the innovation as one of Judge Conrad's poetic ideas, 
and the result was a very disheartening failure. But 
Judge Conrad persisted so earnestly in the effort to 
have his police distinguished from others that he 
finally required the police to wear a particular style 
of hat that would distinguish them from others, 
wherever they might appear, and, although he suc- 
ceeded in carrying the measure through, it was vio- 
lently assailed as a job for the benefit of some favorite 
hatters, and the police were looked upon with contempt 
by a very large portion of the commimity. He blazed 
the way, however, and in the fullness of time the peo- 
ple got to imderstand that policemen should be in 
imiform, and that the imiform would be a badge of 
honor. His administration weakened rather than 
strengthened his party, and gave Mr. Vaux an easy 
victory for the succession. 

Conrad was nominated by the Whigs solely because 
it was known that he was in favor with the Native 
American element of the city, and it was the new 
secret organization of the Know Nothings that gave 
him a victory over Vaux nearly half as large as Vaux's 
entire vote. The result was appalling to the Demo- 
cratic politicians of the city and State, and somewhat 
disturbing even to the Whigs, as they saw that a new 
political power confronted them with sufficient votes 
to decide any contest between the two great parties. 

2o8 Old Time Notes 

These apprehensions were fully justified at the suc- 
ceeding fall election when one man on the Whig State 
ticket was elected by nearly 40,000, and another on 
the same ticket was defeated by nearly 200,000. 
Judge Conrad was one of the most eloquent and 
impressive of our Pennsylvania orators. He was 
very scholarly, earnest and imposing in manner, 
and imusually forceful in his exquisite rhetoric. He 
should have attained much greater distinction than 
came to him, as he was a man of rare and unusually 
versatile literary qualities. I never missed an oppor- 
tunity to hear him, whether on the political or temper- 
ance rostrum, and he was one of the most genial and 
delightful of companions. He was always intensely 
interested in politics, and Philadelphia would have 
honored herself if her people had clothed him with 
congressional honors, and continued him there for life. 

The Know Nothing organization was well described 
by Chief Justice Black, who had been elected to the 
supreme bench in 1854 when Bigler, the Democratic 
candidate for Governor, was defeated. I chanced to 
be in Pittsburg, where the court was in session, soon 
after the October election of 1854, and had a pleasant 
chat with Judge Black on the election. He was 
startled at the exhibition of the power of the Know 
Nothings and appalled at the wrecks they had wrought 
on both sides of the old party lines, but I well remem- 
ber his prophesy : — 

"TheyVe like the bee, biggest when it^s bom; it 
will perish as quickly as it rose to power. ' ' 

It is remarkable that an organization so strong never 
was felt as a controlling factor after its wonderful 
exhibition of power in 1854. It rapidly declined in 
strength, as its secret methods gave despotic power 
to the councils or managers, which positions had been 
generally successfully sought by unworthy and imscrup- 

je„^.5nC<— ^ 


• •• 


« •• • 


' » i: 

Of Pennsylvania 209 

tdotis men. It practically absorbed the Whig party, 
leaving it Uttle more than the ninning-gears of an 
organization, and, after struggling along for a few 
years, it and the remnant of the Whig organization 
were absorbed in the Republican party, whose timely 
birth gave refuge to the hopeless old organization. 

It exhibited some strength in 1856 when it nomi- 
nated Fillmore and Donaldson for President and Vice- 
President. Fillmore's high character gave credit to 
the movement, and the conservative Whig and anti- 
slavery elements which were generally disgusted with 
the sudden advent of Fremont as a Presidential can- 
didate, were glad to take refuge under its banner. 
The old Whig element of the South was strongly averse 
to affiliation with the Democracy, and readily accepted 
Fillmore, and the opposition to Buchanan voted almost 
solidly for Fillmore in the Southern States, while in 
the Northern States it was more or less divided. 
Fillmore carried the electoral vote of Maryland, 
where the Fremont ticket received only 81 votes, and 
Fillmore had 8,345 majority over Buchanan. That 
is the only electoral vote that ever was won by the 
Know Nothing party, and a majority of those who 
voted for Fillmore in Maryland were not members of 
or in sympathy with the organization. 

After 1856 the Know Nothing party practically disap- 
peared as a general political factor, although some ef- 
forts were made as late as i860 to galvanize the remains 
into a semblance of life. Its achievements were con- 
fined to a single year, that of 1854, when it controlled 
Pennsylvania, and in Massachusetts elected not only 
a Governor on a straight Know Nothing ticket over 
both the Whig and the Democratic candidates, but 
elected every Congressman in the State. But its 
decline was as rapid as its growth, and the only year 
that marked its tritmiph dated its decline and fall. 


2IO Old Time Notes 

Unlike most parties which have been created and 
perished, the Know Nothing organization died gen- 
erally imlamented save by the few unscruptdoiis 
poUtical leaders who could profit only by its peculiar 
and arbitrary methods, and it left no approving 
impresson in the public mind, and no monuments of 
beneficent achievement to tell that it had ever lived. 

The other disturbing political element of 1854 was 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise by a Demo- 
cratic Senate, House and President. In the history 
of a free government such as ours there must be many 
political blunders committed in the heat of great party 
struggles or to promote individual ambition, but the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise stands out single 
and alone as the most monstrous and fatal of all polit- 
ical errors committed by the party in power. The 
question of slavery extension had become a very vital 
one. The North was developing and extending west- 
ward with great rapidity, giving the positive assur- 
ance of new free States at an early day, while the 
South had nothing in prospect to maintain what it 
called the ''equilibrium" between the two sections. 
In addition to this necessity of political power, the old 
slave States were largely interested in slave markets, 
as their exhausted lands made slave growing more 
profitable than cultivation of plantations. 

It was deliberately decided that the battle should 
be made to control the population of the two new 
Territories of Kansas and Nebraska by Southern votes 
from Missouri and give them slave Constitutions, 
but the Missouri Compromise stood in the way, and 
Douglas, the ablest of the Democratic disputants of 
that day, took the lead in repealing the Compromise, 
and substituted what he mistakenly called popular 
sovereignty. After a long struggle the bill was passed 
in the House by 113 to 100 and in the Senate by 

Of Pennsylvania 


35 to 13. Many of the Northern Democrats voted 
against it, including Curtis, Drum, Gamble, Grow 
and Trout, from Pennsylvania. The Southern States 
gave nine votes against it, including four Whigs from 
Tennessee and the venerable Thomas H. Benton, of 

On the night of the final passage of the bill in the 
Senate William H. Seward made one of the most 
impressive speeches of his life. It was known that 
he would make the closing argtmient on behalf of the 
minority, and when he arose near the midnight hour 
there was the stillness of death throughout the Senate 
and the crowded gallery. In his opening he said:— 

The sun has set for the last time upon the guaranteed and certain 
liberties of all the unsettled and unorganized portions of the American 
Continent that lie within the jurisdiction of the United States. To-mor- 
row's sun will rise in dim eclipse over them. How long that obscuration 
shall last is known only to the Power that directs and controls all human 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise not only 
dated the decline and fall of the Democratic party, 
but it sowed the dragon's teeth that made the avoid- 
ance of civil war impossible in '61. True, Buchanan 
was elected President in 1856 by divided opposition, 
but for more than a quarter of a century thereafter 
no Democrat reached the Presidential chair. 

212 Old Time Notes 

XX. I 


The Fantastic Election of 1854 — Majorities on State Ticket Varying from 
37,007 Whig to 190,748 Democratic — Pollock's Career in Congress 
— His Earnest Aid to Professor Morse — Curtin Chairman of the 
Whig State Committee — His Peculiar Deals with the Know Nothing 
Leaders — Severe Conditions Exacted — William B. Reed — His Con- 
troversy with Curtin — The Sad End of One of the Most Brilliant 
Members of the Philadelphia Bar. 

THE political contest of 1854 presented the most 
iinique and conspicuous resiilts to be found in 
the entire history of Pennsylvania politics. It 
was the last battle made by the Whig party as a 
recognized factor in politics, and while the Whig 
organization was thus in its dying throes, the Dem- 
ocratic party was greatly disintegrated and sowed 
the seeds which made it practically a minority party 
for more than a generation. True, it elected Buchanan 
in 1856, who was largely a minority President, but 
for nearly a quarter of a century thereafter the party 
was defeated in every National contest. Had the 
contest for Governor in 1854 been fought out squarely 
between the two parties without the intervention of 
the Know Nothing organization, there is little doubt 
that the Whig ticket would have been elected, because 
of the Democratic revolt against the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise, but the Know Nothing organi- 
zation, with all its severely secret appliances, gradually 
absorbed qtiite two-thirds of the Whigs of the State, 
and a very large proportion of the Democrats. In 
order that the unique situation of that period may 
be tmderstood, I give the official vote for the three 
State offices then filled: 

Of Pennsylvania 213 


James Pollock, Whig 304,008 

William Bigler, Democrat 167,001 

Pollock's majority 37i007 

Canal Commissionbr. 

George Darsie, Whig 83,331 

Hemy S. Mott, Democrat 274,074 

Mott's majority 190,743 

SuPRBMB Judge. 

Daniel M. Smjrser, Whig 781S71 

Jeremiah S. Black, Democrat 167,010 

Thomas Baird, Know Nothing 121,576 

Black's plurality 45f434 

Majority of combined opposition over Black . . 33,137 

The Whigs and Democrats held their regtilar State 
conventions early in the year, as was common in those 
days, and Governor Bigler was renominated, not 
only with entire unanimity, but with the heartiest 
enthusiasm exhibited by his supporters. There was 
then no sign of Democratic disintegration or of the 
advent of the new political factor that turned every- 
thing topsy turvy in the politics of the State. I was 
a delegate in the Whig convention, and heartily sup- 
ported the nomination of Pollock. He was the logical 
candidate of the Whigs, and his nomination was 
effected without a serious contest. Curtin's name 
was presented to the convention, not with any hope 
of winning the nomination for him, but he was the 
favorite of a large element of the young Whigs of the 
interior of the State, and they simply put him in 
training for the great battles which he fought later 
in life. 

Pollock had exhibited unusual personal and poli- 
tical strength in carrying at three consecutive elections 
his Democratic congressional district that had been 

214 Old Time Notes 

specially fashioned by Governor Porter to give con- 
gressional honors to his old friend, John Snyder. 
He was first chosen to fill a vacancy occasioned by 
the death of Congressman Frick, who had defeated 
Snyder in 1843 ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ thereafter, and in the 
desperate contest of 1844 Pollock won out by a small 
majority, to which he added a sweeping victory in 
1846, when the Democrats were snowed under by a 
repeal of the tariff of 1842. He was one of the younger 
members of the House when he entered Congress, but 
during his nearly six sessions of service he had exhibited 
not only great efficiency as a National legislator, but 
he was in advance of most of his older associates in 
heartily sustaining all progressive movements. 

He was one of the few men who took kindly to Pro- 
fessor Morse when he came to Washington and was 
shunned by nearly all government officials as a limy 
crank because he proposed to utilize the lightning for the 
transmission of messages, and Pollock was also one 
of the earliest of our public men to accept Benton's 
idea of the great destiny of the West after the extension 
of our territory to the Pacific by Mexican annexation. 
He was a man of fine address, delightful manners and 
a popular orator of unusual attainments. He was 
not a man of more forceful intellect than Bigler, but 
quite as logical and rather more fervent and ornate 
in public discussion. Thus the two candidates for 
Governor were both men who had been tried in the 
public service, both of unblemished reputation, and 
both prepared to bring high qualities of statesmanship 
and ripe experience to the service of the State. 

Pollock indicated Curtin as the man to take charge 
of his campaign, and Curtin was made chairman of 
the Whig State committee. He entered upon his 
new duties with all the ardor that was always exhibited 
in his public efforts, and everything seemed to be going 

Of Pennsylvania 215 

along very smoothly for a month or two imtil he was 
finally confronted with the startUng information that 
there was a secret organization in the State that 
embraced a clear majority of the Whig voters and 
many of the Democratic voters, and the election of 
Mayor Conrad in Philadelphia in May was pointed to 
in confirmation of the statement. I happened to be 
in a position to know the inner movements of that 
contest, and while there have been some political 
stniggles in Pennsylvania which were regarded as 
exceptionally peculiar in their developments and 
results, I confess that I never saw political highjinks 
played to the limit as it was by the Know Nothings 
in 1854. 

Three men, all of whom are dead, and none of whom 
are remembered as a factor in Pennsylvania politics, 
had managed to get possession of the machinery of 
the Know Nothing organization. They were men 
of low cunning and had availed themselves of the pecu- 
liar facihties offered by the new secret organization to 
make leadership autocratic in authority. There were 
no public assembUes where the movements of the 
party could be discussed, and those who controlled 
the State councils of the organization had it in their 
power to declare any decision that best suited their 
purpose, and they started out to make the most of 
their opportunity. I was present with Curtin when 
the proposition was made by those three men, who 
showed beyond doubt that they held the control of 
the Know Nothing nominations absolutely in their 
own hands, as the local Know Nothing lodges voted 
in secret, neither one knowing what another did, while 
the returns were sent to the State Coimcil to be com- 
puted and declared. They did not approach the sub- 
ject with any degree of delicacy, but were brutally 
frank alike in their demand and in declaring their 

2i6 Old Time Notes 

purpose to defeat the Whig candidate for Governor if 
their wishes were not acceded to. Each of the three 
men reqiiired a pledge from Curtin that three of the 
most lucrative offices in the gift of the Governor, being 
the inspectorships of Philadelphia, should be given 
to them. 

They did not conceal the fact that it made no dif- 
ference how the Know Nothing lodges voted, they 
would declare the nomination in favor of or against 
Pollock, depending upon Curtin 's agreement to their 
proposition. He could have rejected the traders and 
exposed their infamy, but it would probably have 
cost the success of his candidate. Curtin deliberated 
long and had several conferences with them before 
he gave his answer, and he finally acceded to their 
demands to the extent of agreeing that he would 
recommend the appointments they demanded, but 
that he would not give an unqualified pledge as to 
the action of the Governor, who was then not a mem- 
ber of the Know Nothing organization, and I do not 
know that he ever did formally associate himself 
with it. 

Curtin was safe in taking the position that he did, 
for the reason that the same men could not have 
approached the Democratic organization with a like 
proposition, as Bigler certainly would never have 
appointed any of them, even if they had elected him, 
as they had no position in the Democratic party. 
With visible reluctance they finally accepted Curtin 's 
pledge, of which Pollock had no knowledge, and it 
was understood he was not to be advised of it during 
the contest. 

The entire programme was then arranged that the 
State Council should announce as the nominees of 
the Kiiow Nothing party : Pollock, Whig, for Governor ; 
Mott, Democrat, for canal commissioner, and that 

of Pennsylvania 217 

they should nominate one of their own order as the 
third candidate for supreme judge. Mott was a 
dyed-in-the-wool Democrat from the Tenth Legion, 
and would have lost a leg in preference to becoming 
a member of the Know Nothang party, but without 
his knowledge he was declared the candidate, and 
did not even know he was the Know Nothing can- 
didate imtil the returns gave him the largest majority 
that had ever been cast for any man in Pennsylvania. 
As soon as the election was over and he saw that he 
had been given this large majority by the Know Noth- 
ing vote, he openly denounced the organization as 
deliberately guilty of a fraud in making him its can- 
didate, and from that time until his dying day he was 
probably the most vindictive opponent of Know 
Nothingism the State could furnish. 

The alleged nomination of Pollock and Mott by 
the Know Nothing organization was a deliberate 
fraud upon the Know Nothing people, as was evi- 
denced by the fact that their names were submitted 
to the various lodges by the State Council as candi- 
dates and as members of the order, when, in fact, 
neither of them was in political fellowship with the 
organization, but it mattered little whether the lodges 
voted for Pollock and Mott or voted against them, 
as there was no power to revise the returns, and when 
they were declared the candidates of the party, then 
new in political experience and enthusiastic with 
expected victory, the ticket was accepted without a 
question and the election of Pollock and Mott was 
absolutely assured. 

It is marvelous indeed how Uttle was known of the 
Know Nothing organization during the campaign 
of 1854. Even Curtin, who was in close contact 
with the trading leaders, had no conception of its 
strength and never dreamed of the political revolu- 

2i8 Old Time Notes 

tion that it was about to work out. For some time 
before the election it was generally expected that 
Pollock would be successful, as the Democratic ranks 
were very much broken by the repeal of the Missouri 
compromise, against which nearly or quite one-half 
the Democratic members from the State had voted. 
The leaders of both parties, who were usually well 
informed as to the conditions of the battle, simply 
measured the probable result by the revulsion against 
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise that aroused 
an intense hostility and broke away from the Demo- 
cratic party the entire Wilmot wing and swept the 
solid Democratic counties of the North into revolution. 

When the returns came in they dumfounded all 
political calculations. They found one man on the 
Whig ticket chosen by nearly forty thousand majority, 
and one man on the Democratic ticket chosen by 
nearly five times forty thousand majority, while one 
Democrat on the State ticket had been saved because 
he was forttmate enough to strike a triangular con- 
test in which the Whigs and Know Nothings voted 
for their separate candidates. 

Darsie was one of the ablest of the Whig leaders 
of the West, and one of the most respected, but he 
was imforttmate in having been bom abroad, although 
his parents emigrated here when he was in his infancy, 
but that made him an impossible candidate for the 
Know Nothings. Bigler was astounded by the imex- 
pected blow and felt that his public career was ended, 
as the imity of the Democratic organization seemed 
hopelessly broken. I saw him soon after his defeat, 
and found him eminently philosophical and so entirely 
disgusted with politics that he anticipated a pleasur- 
able retirement to private life in the enjoyment of 
his home and people, to whom he was singularly 
devoted; but that defeat, with a cloud hanging over 

of Pennsylvania 219 

him that seemed to be ahnost without a silver lining, 
made him United States Senator practically without 
a contest only one year later, and gave him a posi- 
tion of distinction and influence in iJhe party that he 
never otherwise would have attained. 

It was the contest of 1854 that practically severed 
William B. Reed's fellowship with the Whig party. 
He was then district attorney of Philadelphia and 
the most accomplished prosecutor that ever entered 
a court of justice. I had met him the year before, 
when I was the Whig candidate for auditor general, 
and had several political conferences with him relating 
to the contest in Philadelphia. He was on the local 
ticket himself the same year for re-election as dis- 
trict attorney, and the first assurance he gave me 
was that his battle was practically settled, and that 
he was ready to give his best efforts in support of the 
State ticket. 

I can recall few men who impressed me as did 
William B. Reed when I first met him. He was an 
unusually handsome man, with a face that clearly 
indicated the masterly ability he possessed, and one 
of the most graceful of gentlemen under all conditions. 
He was ambitious to be attorney general under 
Pollock, and failing in that he committed the error 
of permitting his resentments to master him, and he 
addressed a very angry and caustic public letter to 
Curtin soon after the new administration got under 
way, resigning his position on the Whig State com- 
mittee, of which Curtin was chairman. He discovered 
that there had been some peculiar political diplomacy 
loetween Curtin and the Know Nothing organization, 
and as Reed was himself a master in that sort of poli- 
tical management, and had always handled the Native 
Americans in Philadelphia most successfully to serve 
himself, he felt that he had been sUghted and that, 

220 Old Time Notes 

with his disappointment at not entering the cabinet, 
made him publicly break with the organization, 
believing that he was omnipotent in Philadelphia and 
could compel the Whig party to restore relations 
with him on his own terms. 

I know of no sadder wreck in our public men than 
that of William B. Reed. The organization of the 
Republican party and the nomination of Fremont 
in 1856 opened the way for him to support Buchanan 
for President, but misfortimes and disappointments 
multiplied upon him until he finally became the most 
violent opponent of the North in our Civil War. He 
had been a leader of leaders ; he could not bow to the 
mastery of others, and his impetuous temperament 
led him into the most ostentatious and violent hos- 
tility to the government until no man could trust 
him with a case in court, with all his ability at the bar, 
and social recognition of old-time friends was denied 
him. He had lived in luxury which was amply pro- 
vided for by his large professional earnings, and 
poverty involved him in pecuniary complications 
from which he never recovered. He died in New 
York ten years after the war, where he lived for several 
years earning a few dollars as an editorial contributor 
to the New York "World.'' 

It was not difficult to detect his articles, as bitter- 
ness seemed to grow upon him as long as he wielded 
his pen. In one article he personally criticised me 
most imjustly when I was editor of the ''Times," to 
which I answered in a very brief paragraph, simply 
giving the statements and the source from which they 
came. Soon thereafter I received a letter from h^ 
daughter appealing to me not to further criticise her 
father, as he was then on his dying bed, and in a few 
days his life, so resplendent in achievements, so deeply 
shadowed in misfortune and sorrow, was ended. 

of Pennsylvania 


Pollock's election, of course, brought out the usual 
multitude of applicants for the important places, and 
the three Know Nothing traders decided that they 
would accept the positions of flour inspector, leather 
inspector and bark inspector. Curtin was the only 
man named for secretary of the commonwealth, as 
he was considered fairly entitled to it, and the Know 
Nothing applicants asstimed that they would have 
an easy victory in gaining their lucrative positions. 
Curtin literally fulfilled his pledge, saying to the 
Governor that he had given his promise to urge these 
appointments, but had not pledged the Governor to 
accept them. He also frankly told the Governor all 
that had transpired, and left the Governor to solve 
the problem in his own way. 

The Governor's first decision was to appoint none 
of them, but he afterwards reconsidered that and 
gave one of them a minor inspectorship of the city, 
not nearly so profitable as any of the three they had 
presumably contracted for. The disappointed Know 
Nothing leaders had to accept their defeat, as they 
had no way of visiting vengeance upon any one, and, 
as their party went practically to pieces within a year, 
their names were never even locally prominent in the 
politics of the State. One of them became an active 
Republican and finally reached legislative honors, 
but the others were never again known or felt in the 
local contests of their own communities. 

222 Old Time Notes 


Governor Pollock Progressive in Railroad Advancement — His Early 
Support of the Pacific Railway — Sale of the Main Line of Canal 
and Railway to the Pennsylvania Railroad — Supreme Court sets 
aside Tax Provision Levying Tonnage Taxes to he Paid — The 
Suspension of 1857 — Struggle in the Legislature to Legalize Sus- 
pension of Banks — The Erie Railroad Riots — The Prominent 
Men Involved in the Struggle — Peace Finally Attained by a 
Stakeless Game of Cards. 

GOVERNOR POLLOCK had been one of the most 
progressive members of Congress, and much was 
expected of him as Governor of Pennsylvania. 
He was inaugurated with the most imposing cere- 
monies I have ever witnessed on a like occasion at 
Harrisburg, and his inaugural address had the ring of 
true metal. He was the first man who obtained formal 
action in Congress in favor of the construction of the 
Pacific Railway. On the 23d of June, 1848, he offered 
a resolution in the House calling for the appointment 
of a special committee to inquire into the necessity and 
practicability of constructing such a highway, and as 
chairman of the committee he made an elaborate 
report. That was the first official act of any branch of * 
the government in favor of what was then regarded 
as an impossible enterprise. He appreciated the fact 
that he was in advance of his time, as the first sentence 
of his report made to Congress was in these words: 
**The proposition at first view is startling," but he 
demonstrated the practicability of the enterprise in a 
manner that in a few years became prophetic. 

Many of his immediate constituents regarded him as 

Of Pennsylvania 223 

strangely deluded on the subject of the Pacific Railway, 
and in the winter of 1848 he delivered an address on 
the subject at Lewisburg in which he said : 

At the risk of being considered insane, I will venture the prediction 
that in less than twenty-five years from this evening a railroad will be 
completed and in operation between New York and San Francisco, Cal. ; 
that a line of steamships will be established between San Francisco, Japan 
and China, and there are now in my audience ladies who will, before the 
expiration of the period named, drink tea brought from China and Japan 
by this route to their own doors. 

Highly as he was respected, his prediction was re- 
ceived with general incredulity, but on the loth of 
May, 1869, just twenty-one years after he had made 
this remarkable prophesy, the last rail was laid and the 
last spike driven in a continuous railway line from the 
Father of Waters to the Western Sea. 

Governor Pollock was seriously handicapped at the 
beginning of his administration by the utter demorali- 
zation of his first Legislature, remembered as the one 
Know Nothing Legislature of the State, and one that 
made the session of 1855 a blot on the annals of the 
Commonwealth. It was not only demoralized by a 
free-for-all race for the United States Senatorship that 
dragged in the strangest combination of candidates 
ever known in such a struggle, but the only legislation 
of importance that came from it was what was known 
as the "jug law'' that was severely restrictive upon 
those who held liquor licenses, and a bill for the sale of 
the Main Line of the public works, that had such harsh 
conditions as to make it impossible for any one to 
bid at the proposed sale. The Governor very strongly 
urged the sale of the public works, as they had 
become a nmning sore of corruption, including po- 
litical debauchery and the systematic pltmder of the 

224 Old Time Notes 

Two years later, when a more reasonable Legislature 
was assembled, the second act was passed and approved 
for the sale of the Main Line, and the Pennsylvania 
Railroad became the purchaser. The act of '55 pro- 
posing the sale of the Main Line was so severe in its 
restrictions as to absolutely prohibit the sale, and the 
act of '57 erred in the opposite direction by making 
the terms entirely too liberal. The tonnage tax 
imposed upon the traffic of the Pennsylvania Railroad 
was absolutely prohibitory on through freight, as the 
Pennsylvania Railroad had rivals north and south 
extending to the Western markets, entirely free from 
such taxation, and it could not possibly compete with 
them. Philadelphia was thus deprived of a fair share 
of the commerce of the West. The act of '57, author- 
izing the sale of the Main Line, was framed with the 
knowledge that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
could be the only purchaser, and it made the imfortu- 
nate provision in a single section that the company 
should be released from the tonnage tax and from 
State taxation upon all its property other than stocks 
and securities. 

This provision seemed reasonable enough at that 
time, as the company had very little real estate for 
taxation, but, viewing its great possessions at the pres- 
ent time, there would be a very general protest against 
such a vast amount of property being free from taxa- 
tion, and it would inflame popular prejudice to an 
extent that could not fail to force the violation of the 
contract. The supreme court held that the act pro- 
viding for the sale was constitutional in all but the 
single section relating to taxation, and that gave the 
Main Line to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company with 
the tonnage tax unrepealed. The faith of the State 
had been practically pledged for the repeal of that tax, 
but it was not until four years had elapsed that the 

« J« • 

• <• ^ 

• « • t 

Of Pennsylvania 225 

Legislature repealed it, although earnest efforts were 
made from year to year as a new Legislature met. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company took possession 
of the Main Line on the ist of August, 1857, and in his 
annual message Governor Pollock congratulated the 
people of the State upon the consummation of the sale. 
He said : '* The many approve ; the few complain, those 
most who have gained an unenviable reputation by 
reckless disregard of the public interests as exhibited 
in the extravagant, useless and fraudulent expenditure 
of the public money for selfish or partisan purposes.*' 

The sale embraced only the Main Line, including the 
canals and railroads owned by the State between 
Philadelphia and Pittsburg, but one year later the 
Legislature of 1858 sold all the remaining State canals 
to the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, and I felt great 
pride in being able, as a member of the house, to pro- 
pose and pass unanimously an act of five lines abol- 
ishing the canal board that had been a fountain of 
debauchery and profligacy for many years. Governor 
Pollock exerted a powerful if not a controlling influence 
in accomplishing the sale of the Main Line, that 
became the first development of the progressive policy 
that has made the Pennsylvania Railroad Company 
the- greatest railway system of the world. 

In the fall of 1857 the Bank of Pennsylvania, then^ 
the leading bank of the State, closed its doors, and a 
general panic and suspension of all the banks of the 
State speedily followed. It was not over three weeks 
until the general October election when a new Legis- 
lature would be chosen, and it became a very serious 
question when the term of a Legislature expired, as 
the Constitution of 1838 did not definitely fix the 
limitations to the terms of senators and representa- 
tives. To avoid the complication Governor Pollock 
summoned the Legislature on very short notice, and 

226 Old Time Notes 

sent a message urging the enactment of a law legaliz- 
ing the suspension of the banks for a definite period. 
There were roosters in the Legislature of those days, 
although not as numerous as they have been in later 
times, and between Democratic hostility to banks 
generally, and the corrupt element of the Legislature, 
the passage of the measure was delayed until all 
became apprehensive that the remedial measure would 
not be enacted before the election of a new Legislature, 
and all appreciated the possibility of a remedial act 
passed by the old Legislature after the election of a 
new one being declared null and void. 

The banks were represented by a powerful lobby, as 
they were liable to forfeiture of charter at any time, and 
finally the condition became well imderstood that the 
relief measure desired by the banks could be passed 
promptly by a purchase of the gang of roosters that 
held the balance of power. Bankers were inexperi- 
enced in dealing with Legislature corruptionists, and 
they were appalled at the proposition to secure the 
relief by the purchase of a gang of boodlers. In the 
emergency they sent for one of the oldest and most 
influential of the bank presidents of Philadelphia. He 
was a man of the world and eminently practical. He 
went to Harrisburg, and when the question was sub- 
mitted to him his answer was: ** What's the use of 
praying when you^re in hell; pay the d — d scotmdrels 
and let's go home.'' His advice was taken and the 
banks of Pennsylvania were relieved from the penalty 
of suspension. 

One of the most interesting and irritating episodes 
that became interwoven with Pollock's administration 
was what was then known as the Erie riots. The Erie 
and Northeastern Railroad Company had built a short 
line to connect with the New York Central at Buffalo 
and with the Lake Shore line at Erie, by which a con- 

of Pennsylvania 227 

tinuous railway line was made to the West. They did 
not have uniform gauge at that time, and the gauge 
west of Erie was different from the gauge east, and it 
required all passengers and traffic to be transferred at 
Erie. The necessities of commerce required that it 
should be relieved from the delay and cost of being 
handled, and of passengers changing cars, simply 
because there was a difference of an inch or two in the 
gauge of the two lines, and the railways changed their 
gauge so that passenger and freight trains passed east 
and west through Erie without reshipment of their 
tonnage and passengers. This aroused the hostility 
of the people of the city of Erie, whose sympathies 
the railway company seemed to have generally alien- 
ated, and the battle progressed little by little imtil the 
entire community became involved in one of the most 
disgraceful local conflicts in the history of the State. 

The people divided pretty evenly on the side of 
through commerce, or in favor of maintaining the break 
of gauge, and the two contending forces were popularly 
known as ** Rippers'' and '* Shanghais." The term 
"Ripper" was applied to the friend of the break of 
gauge, as they had repeatedly ripped up the tracks of 
the road, and later on when the contest had reached 
white heat, the women of the town turned out in a 
body and burned a railroad bridge. This contest con- 
tinued for several years, and so completely inflamed 
the entire community that the prominent citizens were 
divided on the issue, and ceased all social intercourse 
and would not even worship at the same church. Erie 
was an important county, and although reliably Whig 
imder all ordinary conditions, disregarded all political 
ties and elected a divided ticket to the Legislature on 
the distinct issue of repealing the charter of the Erie 
and Northeast Road. After a long and irritating 
conflict, the bill transferring the custody of the road to 

228 Old Time Notes 

the State was passed and approved by the Governor. 
The charter powers of the company were assumed by 
the Commonwealth, and of course the road had to be 
operated by the State authorities. Governor Pollock 
appointed ex-Congressman Casey as state superin- 
tendent to operate the road, and after struggling for a 
few months in vain efforts to harmonize the people and 
to maintain an open line of communication between 
the East and West, he resigned in disgust. The Gov- 
ernor then appointed the late General William F. 
Small, of Philadelphia, an experienced soldier in the 
Mexican War, and who had served in the senate, hop- 
ing that he would be able to calm down the belligerents 
and operate the line, but after devoting some weeks to 
his work he declared it to be hopeless and sent a peremp- 
tory resignation to the Executive. 

The Governor sent for me, stated the situation and 
urged me to accept the place. It was certainly a most 
iminviting task, but he was so importunate that I 
finally agreed to accept, only on the condition that he 
would give me full authority to summon the necessary 
military power of the State to protect the line when in 
my judgment it was necessary. He said that he did 
not see any other way to maintain the peace there, and 
he would be willing that I should stmimon the military 
whenever, after careful consideration, I regarded it as 
a necessity to operate the line. I went to Erie at once 
and fortimately I had rather intimate personal ac- 
quaintance with most of the leaders of the dispute, 
all of whom were men of high character and intel- 

On the anti-railroad side were such men as Judge 
Thompson, afterwards chief justice of the State; 
Senator Skinner, then serving in the senate; Mr. 
Lowrey, who afterwards became senator for two or 
more terms, and a large number of men prominent in 

Of Pennsylvania 229 

the business circles of the city. On the other side were 
men of equal distinction and character, such as John 
H. Walker, who had been senator and was president 
of our last constitutional convention; Senator John- 
son, who had served in the senate, and published one 
of the leading papers of the city; Mr. Courtright, one 
of the chief investors in the railroad company, and 
many others, all prominent in professional and business 

I was most hospitably entertained every night during 
my stay there, and I was careful to divide my accept- 
ances equally between the disputing forces, but I never 
met one of the opposing parties at any of the enter- 
tainments given. The city was in dilapidation. Its 
population had been reduced to about 5,000, business 
was at a standstill, and the only question that was 
discussed in parlors, business houses, or on the street 
comer was the railroad issue. I earnestly tried to 
summon the leading disputants into conference, but 
it was utterly impossible. Some of the railroad people 
would have come, but the others would not even 
entertain the suggestion. After a week or more of 
daily conference with the leading men, I worked out a 
method by which I hoped I could reconcile them at 
least to the extent of pemiitting the road to be operated 
without interference. I made concessions to both 
sides in manning the line, and presented it to the 
leading disputants, all of whom agreed to it. I made 
the changes at once, and was assured by the prominent 
men of both sides that there would be no further 

It was in midsimimer, and I started east by way of 
West Point, where I concluded to rest for a few days, 
but within forty-eight hours I received a dispatch 
from Erie stating that the riot had broken out afresh, 
that Senator Johnson's printing office had been guttecj 

2 30 Old Time Notes 

and his press and printing material biimed in a bonfire 
on the street. I hastened back to Erie, and at once 
called upon the leading anti-railroad men. They said, 
what perhaps was not true, that it was not done with 
their knowledge or their approval, but that they foimd 
it impossible to restrain the people. I had done every- 
thing that it was possible to do in the way of com- 
promise, and I then went to Mr. Courtright, who was 
a thoroughly experienced railroad man, and who was 
so anxious to save his railway property that he was 
entirely willing to advise the most generous adjust- 
ment. I went over the whole ground with him very 
fully, and finally determined upon a just policy to be 
adopted. I prepared it carefully and presented it to 
Judge Thompson, Senator Skinner and others of the 
opponents of the railroad who were entirely reasona- 
ble and wanted an honest adjustment of the dispute, 
but confessed that they could not control the mob 
element that had been infuriated by the long-continued 

I then announced to them that all efforts to hannon- 
ize the difficulty with the co-operation of the oppo- 
nents of the railroad had failed, and that I now would 
adopt a policy that would coerce the acceptance of 
law and order. I gave them a programme for operat- 
ing the road, and notified them that on the following 
day it would go into effect, and that I would operate 
the line if it required a soldier upon every cross-tie to 
protect it, and that soldiers called to protect the 
road would be instructed to fire on anyone attempt- 
ing to destroy it, whether the offender wore trousers 
or petticoats. I had the authority of the Governor 
to summon the military, and had an ample military 
force ready to be brought to Erie in a few hours. 

Of course I was very much distressed at the situation, 
because I feared that the spirit of lawlessness was so 

Of Pennsylvania 231 

rife that the more intelligent portion of the anti-rail- 
road men could not prevent them from precipitating 
a disturbance that must necessarily result in the 
sacrifice of life. After careful reflection I decided to 
make the desperate experiment of inviting two of the 
leading railroad men and two of the leading anti- 
railroad men to meet at my room at the same hour, 
without either knowing that the others were invited, 
and I sent a letter to ex-Senator John H. Walker and 
Milton C. Courtright, leading railroad men, and to 
Judge Thompson and Senator Skinner, the most pro- 
minent anti-railroad men, asking them to be at my 
room at seven o'clock that evening. There had been 
no social, business or personal intercourse between 
Thompson and Skinner on the one side, and Walker 
and Courtright on the other side for a year or more, 
and it was an even guess that when I got them 
together they would simply explode and separate, or 
probably worse than that, but I thought there was 
a chance for peace, and I venttired to try it. They 
all enjoyed a drink of whisky and a game of euchre, 
and I had mv room bountifully supplied to meet the 

The first to appear was Judge Thompson, who was a 
most delightful gentleman, and whom I did not fear as 
likely to provoke a disturbance, but who would be 
probably ready for a battle on any visible provocation. 
While we were standing at the sideboard taking the 
first sample of the whisky, there was a knock at the 
door and John H. Walker entered. He was a fighter 
of fighters, and the one I most feared. He stopped 
inside the door, evidently startled at seeing Judge 
Thompson, and I immediately walked up to him, shook 
him by the hand, and told him that I had invited him 
to meet Judge Thompson, as two of the most respected 
citizens of the city, as my guests for the evening, and 

232 Old Time Notes 

asked him to join us in a glass. He hesitated for some 
moments, and I very much feared that he wotild re- 
spond explosively, but he finally joined me and walked 
up to Judge Thompson and reached out his hand, and 
all took a glass together. I felt then that the battle 
was won, for with John H. Walker, the most implacable 
of all the belligerents, on terms with Judge Thompson I 
had nothing to apprehend from Skinner, who was 
amiable, and from Courtright, who had great interests 
at stake. They came in a few minutes later, and 
seeing Thompson and Walker in social intercourse 
logically fell in, and we at once sat down to a stakeless 
game of euchre. I had a fine supper for the party 
about midnight, and the game of cards continued until 
the Sim was purpling the east, with the promise of 
another day, when they all shook hands in the most 
friendly way and went to their homes. That settled 
the Erie riots. 

I never had occasion to return to Erie to suppress 
disturbance, and the railroad was operated from that 
time on without interruption. Certain concessions 
were promptly made by the railroad company extend- 
ing a branch to the Lake Shore, and as the passions of 
the occasion faded out, all were glad to relegate the 
disgraceful Erie riots to forgetfulness. After two years 
of riotous discord, breaking up the peace of social 
circles and churches and dethroning law and order in 
the community, and after defying diplomacy and even 
military authority, and carrying the riotous proceedings 
to the extent of women tearing up tracks and destroy- 
ing bridges, the whole war was settled in one night by 
a game of cards, several bottles of old rye, and the best 
supper that Brown's Hotel could furnish. I never had 
occasion to return to Erie to superintend the road, and 
the succeeding Legislature restored the chartered 
rights of the company, and I returned to then^ the 

Of Pennsylvania 233 

liberal profits which stood to my credit in the treasiiry 
of the State. 

In my official report to the Governor, after I was 
relieved from the charge of the railroad, by the re- 
establishment of peace in the Erie community, I did 
not state the precise method by which peace had been 
obtained, but I had personally informed the Governor 
of it ; and while he was much delighted at the restora- 
tion of peace, he left me greatly in doubt as to whether 
he wotdd not have preferred peace by military force 
and the sacrifice of some lives to its attainment by a 
game of cards and several bottles of whisky. He was 
a severe Roundhead in his religious views, and believed 
both cards and whisky to be the invention of the devil 
himself. He was the only Governor I ever knew who 
signed a death warrant without visible reluctance, as 
he held strictly to the old law of an eye for an eye. He 
was quite prominent in church affairs, and once, when 
on a visit to the Pacific Coast, at a large banquet, he 
startled the guests by an indignant and eloquent pro- 
test against the loose religious ideas which had found 
expression at the feast. Soon after his retirement 
from the gubernatorial office he was made superin- 
tendent of the mint, and although displaced by John- 
son, he was restored by Grant. He devoted himself to 
the practice of law in Philadelphia when he was not in 
public office, but he was not up to date as a practitioner, 
and attained only moderate success. He suffered 
serious financial misfortunes a few years before his 
death, and was little known or felt outside of the narrow 
circle of his church efforts. He roimded out the 
patriarchal allotment of years, and died widely and 
sincerely lamented. 

234 Old Time Notes 



Know Nothing Power Broken — The First Republican State Convention 
Held at Pittsburg — Democratic, Whig, American and Republican 
Candidates Nominated for Canal Commissioner — Republican Con- 
vention Nominated Passmore Williamson then in Prison — Many 
Fruitless Efforts made to Unite the Three Parties Opposed to 
Democracy — A Union Effected after an All-night Conference a 
few weeks before the Election — Too late to Harmonize the Parties 
— Democrats Carry the State and Legislature — Bigler Elected 
Senator — Rev. Gtiii H. Tiffany, an Important American Factor, 
a Candidate for United States Senator, Originally Selected to 
Deliver an Address of Welcome to Blaine in New York in 1884 — 
Clerical Jealousy made Him Retire, and Burchard Delivered the 
Address and Defeated Blaine. 

THE revolutionary results of the election of 1854 
left the three contending political parties in a 
condition of most disturbing uncertainty. It 
was evident that the Whig party had lost its power, 
as its distinct vote in 1854 was not greatly in excess 
of one-half the strength of the new Know Nothing 
organization. A very large majority of the rank 
and file of the Whigs had deserted to the Know 
Nothing organization, with little probability that they 
would ever return. The Whig party had stultified 
itself by declaring in favor of the Compromise meas- 
ures of 1850 in its last National convention of 1852, 
where, after a long struggle between Fillmore, Scott 
and Webster for the nomination, a compromise was 
finally effected by which certain Southern Whigs 
agreed to accept Scott as candidate of the anti-slavery 
element of the party, on the condition that the con- 
vention should approve of the Compromise measures. 

Of Pennsylvania 235 

That platform paralyzed the Whigs of the North, 
and made defection from the ranks of the party easy, 
when Know Nothingism came along with avowed 
hostility to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 

In the early part of 1855 the leaders of the three 
parties were entirely at sea. The Democrats felt 
no assurance of success, and in fact they had no 
promise of victory excepting in the division of the 
opposition. Their ranks had been badly torn by 
defection into the Know Nothing order, and the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise had quickened the anti- 
slavery sentiment among the Democrats to an extent 
that gave them little hope of controlling the State. 
They had permanently lost the strong Democratic 
counties of the North, but they had great leaders, and 
they came to the front early in the year with their 
State convention, and nominated Arnold Plumer, of 
Venango, for canal commissioner, the only State 
office to be filled. Pltmier was one of the ablest of the 
Democratic leaders. He had been state treasurer, 
was twice elected to Congress, and was one of the 
most adroit political managers of the State, with a 
blameless reputation. The Democrats of those days 
could be relied upon in an emergency to organize in 
the best possible way to meet it. 

The Whig convention was called at the usual period, 
and I attended it as a delegate, but a careful review 
of the situation, of which the leaders of the different 
sections reported, the condition of the party proved 
that we were an assembly of leaders without rank 
and file. The Whigs of every part of the state had 
practically given up the organization in despair, and 
the only a(^erents were, as a rule, a few old Scotch- 
Irish Whigs, most of whom would have been com- 
pelled to lie awake at night to decide whether they 
most hated Know Nothingism or Democracy. It 

236 Old Time Notes 

was evident to all intelligent observers before the 
Whig convention organized that it had ceased to be 
a party of power, and that the sooner the funeral 
ceremonies were performed the stronger would be 
the hope of getting the stubborn old Whigs into some 
new attitude, where they could exert their opposition 
to Democratic authority that had reopened the Pan- 
dora box of sectional strife by the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise. Having met, however, and most of 
the districts with full representation, we went through 
the motions in regular form and nominated Mr. Hen- 
derson, of Washington, for canal commissioner, and 
passed resolutions in imitation of the two tailors of 
Tooley Street, London, who held a mass meeting 
and prefaced the resolutions with the words **We, 
the people of England. ' ' 

All of the delegates in the Whig convention were 
very earnest in their hostility to the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise and the avowed purpose of 
taking possession of Kansas and Nebraska as slave 
territories, and while no such confession as the ended 
usefulness of the Whig party was heard in the pro- 
ceedings of the body, in the many side conferences 
held it was decided that earnest efforts should be 
made to combine the opposition to Democracy in 
some way that could not then be indicated. The 
Know Nothing order had chosen its canditate for canal 
commissioner and nominated Mr. Martin, of Lancaster. 
He was an old Whig, thoroughly anti-slavery, and 
it was thought it might be possible to harmonize all 
of the different elements on him as the opposition 
candidate to Democracy. 

Knowing that the last Whig State convention had 
been held, and that the organization of the party 
was practically abandoned, I attended the Repub- 
lican St^te convention in the summer of 1855 ^t 

Of Pennsylvania 237 

Pittsburg, of which John Allison, of Beaver, was 
president. It was a mass convention, and all were 
admitted to its deliberations regardless of district 
representation. A ntmiber of able men were there, 
and Giddings, the great anti-slavery representative 
from Ohio, and Bingham, another Ohio represen- 
tative, who was one of the ablest poptilar orators in 
the State, aroused the convention to great enthusiasm 
by their anti-slavery appeals, and the assurance that 
the Republican party would speedily control the 
government. Many private coi^erences were held, 
and after very full and careful deliberation it was 
settled, as we all supposed, that the convention should 
nominate Peter Martin, the Know Nothing candidate 
for canal commissioner, as he was heart3y in sym- 
pathy with every principle of the Republican organi- 

If the nommation of Martin had been accomplished 
it was reasonably certain that the Whigs would 
volimtarily withdraw their candidate and unite in 
the movement, although a small percentage of the 
Whigs would not have accepted any Know Nothing 
candidate. Everything was moving along very se- 
renely imtil Mr. Acker, an old Quaker from Bucks 
County, arose, and, after delivering a most impassioned 
anti-slavery speech, moved the nomination of Passmore 
Williamson for canal commissioner, who was then in 
prison for contempt of court in refusing to make a 
satisfactory answer to the coiut as to the wherea- 
bouts of a fugitive slave. A torch applied to a powder 
magazine could not have been more explosive, and in 
less time than the proceeding could be fairly described 
the convention was on its feet in a tempest of enthu- 
siasm, and Williamson was declared the nominee of 
the convention. 

Williamson was, of course, an impossible candidate. 

238 Old Time Notes 

His imprisonment for contempt was severely criticised, 
but it would have been utteriy hopeless to make a 
contest that would make the leading issue a battle 
with the supreme court of the State on its right to 
enforce its own process. There was not a ray of hope 
of uniting the other elements opposed to the Demo- 
cracy on Williamson, and it would have been utterly 
useless to attempt to persuade the convention to 
reconsider its action. 

Thus the Whig State convention of 1855 had met 
only to learn that it ceased to be anything more than a 
light-weight political ally of some greater organized 
opposition to the Democracy, and the Republican 
convention, that was regarded as representing the 
hopeful party of the future, started out with such 
revolutionary radicalism that it appeared only as a 
political suicide. 

The campaign dragged along with the three regularly 
nominated candidates representing the opposition 
to the Democracy, and of course assuring the success 
of the Democrats unless a hearty union could be 
effected. The only State officer to elect was canal 
commissioner, but the Legislature to be chosen had 
the choice of a United States Senator, as the previous 
Legislature had wrangled over the senatorship during 
the entire session, and adjourned without electing. 
The office of canal commissioner was of little moment, 
but the Legislature was regarded as of vital import- 
ance, as it involved the choice of a Senator. The 
leaders of the three opposition parties made very 
earnest struggles to bring about a union, but many 
of the old Whigs were obstinate. The Republicans, 
then embracing only the more radical anti-slavery 
people of the State, were wildly enthusiastic over 
Williamson, and the Know Nothings insisted that, 
as they had a candidate who was a Whig and an 

Of Pennsylvania 239 

anti-slavery man, he should be accepted by all and 
receive the united support of the various opposition 

The pressure for union increased as the election 
approached, and finally, after very earnest and often 
defeated efforts, a conference was called at Harris- 
burg by representative Know Nothings, Whigs and 
RepubHcans to make a last struggle for imity. A 
large ntmiber attended, and they finally decided that 
three should be chosen from each party to confer on 
the subject, and any decision agreed to by a majority 
of each delegation should be accepted as final. The 
pledge was given that any of the opposition candidates 
not nominated by the union conference should be 
withdrawn, as authority had been obtained from all 
of them to do so. I was chosen as one of the Whig 
conferees, with John Adams Fisher, of Harrisburg, 
and Thomas E. Cochran, of York. The American 
conferees were headed by Rev. Otis H. Tiffany, then 
prominently connected with Dickinson College, with 
two associates whose names I do not recall. Senator 
Meyer, of Bradford, headed the RepubUcan conferees, 
and Governor Pollock, who had very modest rooms 
at Coverly's Hotel, where the conference was held, 
took a very active part in urging the necessity of a 
cordial agreement. 

The conference began at seven o'clock in the evening, 
and continued until three in the morning. Several times, 
after heated and irritating discussion, the conference 
was on the point of breaking up, and twice at different 
times during the night the motion was made to ad- 
journ without day, but John Adams Fisher, the chair- 
man, arbitrarily ruled the motion out of order, and 
never permitted a vote to . be taken. The Know 
Nothings felt that they had the butt end of the whip, 
and with very good reason urged that their candi- 

240 Old Time Notes 

date should be accepted, as they must furnish most 
of the votes to elect him. Finally disruption was 
averted by the sagacity of Rev. Dr. Tiffany, who 
proposed that Thomas Nicholson, long chief clerk 
in the State treasurer's office, and practically State 
treasurer himself, and whose record in the Legislature 
had been very creditable, should be accepted by all 
as the tmion candidate for canal commissioner, and 
that the names of all the others be withdrawn. The 
proposition, coming as it did from the Know Noth- 
ings, was promptly accepted, and the next morning 
the official announcement was made of the nomi- 
nation of Nicholson, and the withdrawal of Martin, 
Henderson and Williamson, but it was too late. 

If the union had been accomplished sixty days 
earlier there is Uttle doubt that Nicholson would have 
won, but as there were less than two weeks of time 
to brush away all the obstinacy of the old Scotch- 
Irish Whigs, to placate the radicalism of the Repub- 
licans, and to reconcile the Know Nothings to the great 
sacrifice they had made, the fusion was not completely 
effected, and Pltmier defeated Nicholson by 11,500 
plurality, while Williamson received 7,200 votes, 
Cleaver, Know Nothing, received over 4,000 votes, 
and Henderson, Whig, received nearly 3,000 votes, 
showing a majority of the united opposition against 
Plumer of 3,000. The Legislature was carried along 
with the State ticket by the Democrats, giving them 
one majority in the senate and thirty-two majority in 
the house, and resulting in the election of Governor 
Bigler to the Senate. 

The Know Nothing movement brought an unusual 
ntimber of ministers into politics, largely from the 
Methodist and Baptist Churches, whose people were 
rather more aggressive than other Protestant denomi- 
nations in their hostility to Catholics. Many of them 


• • • • 
• •« • 


Of Pennsylvania 241 

were local or lay ministers, and very few of them 
developed into creditable legislators, while many 
of them left disreputable records of their brief public 
careers. While there were a number who did not 
disgrace the cloth by active participation in politics, 
the one who stood out most conspicuous as an active 
politician and consistent Christian gentleman was 
Dr. Tiffany, who, as I have stated, accomplished the 
tinion of the opposition forces at the conference in 
1855. He was not only a man of tmusual eloquence, 
but a sagacious leader in Church and State, and always 
commanded the respect of all who came in contact 
with him. whether supporting or opposing him. 

Hotel accommodations in Harrisburg at that time 
were very limited, and as nearly all of the parties to 
the conference were guests at Coverly's Hotel, the 
house was crowded, and Tiffany and I occupied a 
small room together. He was regarded as the ablest 
of all the Know Nothing leaders, and after the con- 
ference adjourned our little room was speedily crowded 
by parties desirous of conferring with him about the 
situation and management of the campaign. He 
entertained them until nearly five o'clock, when he 
said: "Gentlemen, you will please excuse me, I must 
retire, and if you will give me a minute to say my 
prayers I will go to bed, and you can continue the 
conversation as long as you choose.*' He then knelt 
at his bedside for a very brief period, arose and pre- 
pared himself for bed, bidding us a cheerful good 
night as he turned in. He was an tmusually capable 
man, and was much beloved even outside of his relig- 
ious and political associations. He had made a some- 
what earnest contest for the United States senator- 
ship in the preceding Legislature, but the struggle 
became so demoralizing that a man of his aims and 
methods was hopelessly bowled out of the race, as 


24^ Old Time Notes 

Id rfsft: Jfetrir>Sit mfri-iatrr r: the crrr cf Xer 

to ^itiir^:^ the aiiir^es 'Cit crjt:grs>tr:>,driti zo- BTaf^e 
wfKtt tte: m-fnisters oet hfm ni Xeir York. j:st r^e* ace 
Im -Jefett n^iT PresieieziX in 1S&4, BJaice Wjx^Li have 
t^^een Prftairient fnstjead of Cievel2n<L He ^wss rrccrf- 
fienrt amr>njf the mmisters wbo arranged to haire ibe 
dersfv racet Blanie or. his wav bctrie trryn hzs gresu 
Cianpaiffn. Blatne had foc^^ his battle and b^d 
won H^ f/crt the rronj' of fate doomed hrm to defeit 
ff^/m a ca^ise that was expected to largeh- to his 
iMCfpfTH^. It had f>eirm arranged by those immeiiately 
in charge of this tr^tetirig of the niinisters with Blaine 
that Uniituy should deliver the address of congratala- 
tk/n, and had he been permitted to do so he would 
have welcrymed Blaine in a speech of great brilliaEcy 
and i>(X:ul:'ar fitness for the occasion, but some of tbe 
old#rr ministers who had not been consulted com- 
phiir)f*A that the assignment had been made without 
a full o'/nf^.Tfmce, and as there were but a few minutes 
time Un' o'/nsultation before meeting Blaine, the 
(IWTHiu/n threatened to develop considerable irritation. 
S</me one, in the interest of peace, prof)osed that 
th(; oldc'st minister j/resent should be assigned to the 
dutv. It was a plausible solution of the dispute, 
anrl it was accej^ted. On inquiry it was found that 
Rev. Dr. Burchard was entitled to the honor of address- 
ing Blaine, and he blurted out his ** Rum, Romanism 
and Rclxjllir^/' to a candidate for the Presidency 
who had just returned from a visit to his sister in 
Indiana as Mother Superior of a Catholic convent. 
Blaine missed a great opportunity to save himself 

of Pennsylvania 


by not noting Burchard's blunder and dismissing 
it, as he could have done, in a way that wotild have 
made it harmless. He told me of the circumstance 
some time after his defeat, and when I asked him 
why it was that one of his exceptional readiness had 
failed on that occasion, he answered that while he 
had heard the remark, he was so intent in collecting 
his ideas as to the best answer to be made, that he 
was not impressed as he ordinarily would have been 
by the importance of correcting the error. He lost 
New York by 1,100 votes, and the Burchard bltmder 
cost him much more in New York city alone than 
would have saved the Empire State and given him 
the Presidency. Had Dr. Tiffany delivered the address 
it would have been at once elegant and politic, and 
would have made the ministers' welcome to Blaine 
a very material aid to his cause, instead of ending in 
open and disastrous disgrace. 

244 Old Time Notes 



Became a National Organization in 1856 — Pittsburg Conference Issues a 
Call for Republican National Convention — Fremont Nominated 
for President in Philadelphia — Many Old Line Whigs Support 
Buchanan for President — Fremont and Fillmore Forces Unite on 
State and Electoral Tickets Defeated by 3,000 at the October 
State Election — Buchanan Carries the State by a Thousand 
Majority over both. 

THE elections of 1855 were singularly ragged in 
results, and clouded the Presidential contest of 
1856 with great uncertainty. The Whig party 
had done its work, and it was practically eliminated 
from the political forces of the nation. True, after 
Fillmore had been nominated by the Know Nothings 
against Fremont, a mass Whig National convention 
was held in Baltimore without any pretence of regular 
State or district representation, as the organization was 
not maintained in any of the States, and indorsed the 
nomination of Fillmore and Donaldson, the Know 
Nothing candidates. The old Whigs of the South who 
had not fallen in with the Democracy on the sectional 
issue had all become absorbed in the Know Nothing 
organization, and it was the only party in the Southern 
States that maintained any organized opposition to the 
Democrats. In the Southern States the Know Nothings 
polled in 1855 nearly or quite as large a vote as the 
usual Whig vote, but the organization lacked the vigor 
and inspiration of a hopeful National party, and but for 
the facts that the nomination of Fremont was very 
objectionable to the conservative Whigs, and that 
FiUmore was a highly respectable candidate for Pres- 

Of Pennsylvania 245 

ident, the Know Nothing organization would not have 
exhibited one-half the strength that was brought to it 
by a combination of circumstances in 1856. 

The year 1856 is memorable for the creation of the 
Republican party as a National organization. The 
opposition to the Democracy was not coherent, but 
was floating aroimd promiscuously as old line Whigs, 
anti-slavery Democrats, Know Nothings and Repub- 
licans. It was evident to any intelligent observer of 
the situation that if the opposition to the Democrats 
could be cordially imited it would command a decided 
majority of the votes of the American people. The 
situation was somewhat like the political condition 
presented in 1839, when the first Whig National con- 
vention was held at Harrisburg and nominated Harri- 
son and Tyler. That convention gathered in the old 
Anti-Masons, the Whigs who had exhibited power in 
1836 and the formidable Democratic elements of the 
cotmtry opposed to Van Buren and his financial poUcy. 
There was no vital public issue on which the various 
elements of the Harrisburg convention of 1839 divided 
that could not be reconciled. Clay was defeated for 
President, although a majority of the delegates desired 
his nomination, solely because he was a high Mason, 
and the Anti-Masons of the coimtry furnished the large 
portion of the opposition to Van Buren. They made 
Clay an impossible candidate, as Seward's proposition 
to divide the school ftmd of New York when he was 
Governor of that State made him an impossible candi- 
date at Chicago in i860. 

The political condition of 1856 differed from that of 
1839 in the fact that between the Know Nothings and 
the Republicans there was an absolutely impassable 
gulf. The entire Know Nothing element of the South 
was opposed to slavery agitation, and to every chief 
article of Republican faith, and a large proportion of 

246 Old Time Notes 

the Know Nothings of the North were strongly con- 
servative on the slavery question and with no affiliation 
with the Republicans. It became evident soon after 
the election of 1855 that the Republican party must 
take the lead and fight a battle single-handed with the 

The Republican organization had its birth in 1854, 
when the name was adopted by the more anti-slavery 
opposition to the Democrats in sections of a number of 
the States, including New York and Pennsylvania. 
Michigan is entitled to the credit of holding the first 
State Republican convention in 1854 that nominated 
a full State ticket imder the distinct Republican banner, 
and won without any combination .with side political 
forces. It was done imder the leadership of Zachariah 
Chandler, an able and aggressive anti-slavery man 
who afterward became conspicuous as a Republican 
United States Senator, and as chairman of the Repub- 
lican National committee in 1876, and who won for 
Hayes after a desperate battle ending in the Electoral 

Iowa was carried the same year by a fusion between 
the Whigs and Republicans, but Michigan stood alone 
as the only State that had achieved a clean Repubhcan 
victory. The name Republican had been accepted 
spasmodically in many localities, and when it became 
necessary to adopt a name tmder which to rally the 
opponents of slavery extension, the leading Rep- 
resentatives of that sentiment in Congress imani- 
mously decided that the new party should be called 
Republican, in imitation of the Jefferson party whose 
victory of 1800 laid the foimdation for sixty years 
of Democratic control of the government. 

In Pennsylvania the opposition to the Democrats 
was badly disintegrated and gave very little indication 
of possible unity. The lack of able and faithful lead- 

Of Pennsylvania 247 

ership in the Know Nothing organization was a very 
serious objection to affiliation with that order, and 
the radical anti-slavery views to which the early 
Republicans gave expression repelled alike the con- 
servative Whigs and Know Nothings. Pollock was 
Governor of the State, but not in any sense a political 
leader. Cameron was in the Know Nothing organi- 
zation and was smarting under the woimds of his long 
and bitter contest for Senator during the session of 
1855, and his broad, comprehensive knowledge of 
politics made him earnestly desirous for the tmity of 
the opposing elements, as he hoped to return to the 
Senate if such a victory could be achieved. Curtin 
was also in the Know Nothing organization, but was 
greatly disgusted with its corrupt political leadership 
and methods, and the old Whigs of the State were 
simply in retirement without asserting themselves in 
any way whatever. Repeated consultations by the 
National leaders in Waslungton, after the elections of 
1855, finally decided that a conference of active Repub- 
licans from all the Northern States should be held at 
Pittsburg early in the winter of 1856, and it was that 
informal conference that shaped the organization and 
policy of the National Republican party. 

There were a number of able leaders present, all of 
whom understood the magnitude of the contest they 
were about to invite, but they felt that the slavery 
issue had then been pressed upon the nation in such a 
manner as to require the question of slavery extension 
to be squarely met and ended by the victory or defeat 
of the adopted policy of the advocates of slavery. 
Henry J. Raymond, then editor of the New York 
"Time," and a politician and writer of great ability, 
became the controlling leader in the Pittsburg confer- 
ence, and he prepared the address that was then issued 
to the people of the United States, including a call 

248 Old Time Notes 

for a Republican National convention to meet in Phil- 
adelphia on the 17 th of June to nominate candidates 
for President and Vice-President. 

There was not even the pretence of a Republican 
organization in Pennsylvania. It was without a State 
committee, and had no machinery in existence by 
which a single delegate could be elected to the Phila- 
delphia convention, but a large nimiber of volimteer 
delegates appeared, representing every section of the 
State. I was among the nimiber. Thaddeus Stevens 
took quite an active interest in the convention, and 
personally urged me to attend, hoping that, with a 
conservative delegation from Pennsylvania, Judge 
McLean, of the supreme court, could be nominated 
as the Republican candidate. Knowing how utterly 
unprepared Pennsylvania was to accept naked Repub- 
licanism, I attended the convention, but it was evident 
before the convention met that the radical element 
would nominate Fremont by a large majority, and I 
did not appear as a member. Fremont was nomi- 
nated over McLean by a vote of 359 to 196, and nearly 
one-half of McLean's vote came from Pennsylvania. 

The nomination of Fremont did not commend itself 
to the great mass of the old Whigs of Pennsylvania, 
and I left the convention expecting that I would feel 
little interest, and take no part in what then seemed 
to me to be an utterly hopeless battle for the Repub- 
lican ticket; and but for the violent attitude assumed 
on the slavery question by the Cincinnati convention 
that nominated Buchanan, it is more than likely that 
I would have voted for Buchanan as against Fremont. 
I had known him personally for many years, and knew 
him to be great in statesmanship, of imblemished 
character, and thoroughly and severely conscientious 
in the discharge of public and private duties. 

A number of prominent Whigs immediately severed 

^....„^ -^JL^. 

^ * te V • 

* V w r • 


of Pennsylvania 249 

their connection with the opponents of Democracy 
after the nomination of Fremont and openly espoused 
the cause of Buchanan. Among them were such 
men as the Randalls, the Whartons, the Ingersolls, 
William B. Reed and others who had been among the 
leaders in the old Whig party. There were many 
others, such as Morton McMichael, William M. Mere- 
dith and Horace Binney, who were strongly inclined 
to revolt at the nomination of a Rocky Moimtain 
adventurer, whose whole strength with the people was 
his romantic career as an explorer, and who was entirely 
tmknown in statesmanship. They all respected Buch- 
anan as one of the old school statesmen of the land, 
but the platform adopted by the Cincinnati convention 
that nominated Buchanan so distinctly endorsed the 
movements and policy of the slave power that many 
old Whigs were not only compelled to oppose Buch- 
anan's election, but were inspired to make an aggres- 
sive battle for the Republican candidates. The general 
political confusion that prevailed among the opponents 
of the Democrats greatly strengthened Buchanan, as 
his admitted ability and thoroughly clean record 
commanded the respect of even his bitterest foes. 

The Democrats were early in the field and held their 
State convention in March. It was one of the ablest 
of the many political State conventions I have seen, 
and Buchanan's distinctive friends had an overwhehn- 
ing majority of the delegates. Dallas, who had 
seriously divided the convention in 1852, was prac- 
tically tmfelt in the convention of 1856, and the ablest 
of the Democratic leaders had come to the front to 
give the Buchanan cause the highest commendation 
to the Democrats of the cotintry. 

There were no speeches made against Buchanan, 
but a number of interesting episodes occurred during 
the proceedings which brought out very positive 

2 so Old Time Notes 

expressions in favor of '* Pennsylvania's favorite son." 
The few anti-Buchanan men in the body attempted 
occasionally to move by indirection to gain some 
advantage, but they were foiled at every step, and that 
system of tactics was abandoned after one of the most 
brilliant speeches I have ever listened to in a State 
convention, made by Colonel Samuel W. Black, of 
Pittsburg, who tore the mask off the few mutineers 
and silenced them until the convention adjourned. I 
attended the convention as a spectator, and sat close 
to Black. He was a man of magnificent presence, with 
an exquisitely molded face that brightened grandly as 
he poured out his eloquent invective against the hope- 
less minority. It was a speech to be remembered 
regardless of the merits of the controversy, and my 
kind recollections of him brought me the sincerest 
sorrow when, in scanning the reports of the Seven 
Days battle on the peninsula, the name of Colonel 
Black appeared in the list of the dead. 

The Democratic State convention nominated Mr. 
Scott for canal commissioner, Mr. Fry for auditor 
general, and Mr. Ives for surveyor general, and broadly 
indorsed the pro-slavery policy of the National admin- 
tration. There was something of a battle over the 
platform, as Colonel Stokes, of Westmoreland, one of 
the most eloquent men of the State, bitterly assailed 
the policy of the party, but there were very few who 
dared to make a record against the overwhelming and 
earnest majority that dominated the body. They 
felt confident, with the opposition divided into several 
discordant and more or less belligerent organizations, 
that the Democrats could win an easy victory. 

The defiant attitude assimied by the Democrats in 
support of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise with 
violent and revolutionary efforts, made to enslave 
Kansas and Nebraska, inspired the opponents of Dem- 

Of Pennsylvania 251 

ocracy to practical action, and I attended a conference 
in Philadelphia, of which Morton McMichael was the 
central figure, in which it was decided that a "Union" 
State convention should be called, and that Whigs, 
Republicans, Know Nothings and all opposed to the 
policy of the National government on the slavery 
question should be invited to attend, to nominate 
a Union ticket. I was a delegate to the convention, 
and it was a body composed of very earnest and able 
men, in which were leading Whigs, Know Nothings 
and Republicans, and, to harmonize these various 
elements, we nominated Mr. Cochran, Whig, for canal 
commissioner; Mr. Phelps, Know Nothing, for auditor 
general, and Mr. LaPorte, Republican, for surveyor 
general. They were all men of high character and 
admitted ability, and there was every indication at 
that time of a cordial union of the opposition forces, 
which embraced a majority of the people of the State. 
A platform was adopted, confined chiefly to the issue 
of the extension of the slave power, and the contest 
was entered upon by the Union organization with 
bright hopes of success. 

The cordial unanimity exhibited in the Union State 
convention by the different elements opposed to the 
Democrats inspired very general and earnest enthu- 
siasm among the people supporting the new move- 
ment, and the Democrats speedily appreciated that 
they had a very desperate battle on their hands to 
save the State in October. Had Pennsylvania been 
lost to Buchanan in the October election he would 
certainly have been defeated in the Electoral College, 
and Fremont's election would have been probable. 
If the electoral vote of Pennsylvania had been trans- 
ferred from Buchanan to Fremont, Buchanan's major- 
ity of the electors would be reduced to six, and the effect 
of Buchanan's defeat in his home State in October 

252 Old Time Notes 

would certainly have given Illinois to Fremont. In 
that State Buchanan polled 105,348 votes, with 96,187 
for Fremont and 3 7 ,449 for Fillmore. If they had made 
a fusion electoral ticket there as we had in Pennsylvania, 
the electoral vote would have been given to Fremont, 
as the combined opposition was 28,283 greater than 
the Democratic vote, but with or without a fusion 
electoral ticket the prestige of a Union victory in Penn- 
sylvania would have safely anchored Illinois in the 
Fremont colimm. Pennsylvania was thus the pivotal 
State in the National contest of 1856, as it was in the 
Lincoln battle of i860. 

The apprehension of the Pennsylvania Democrats 
as to the result was exhibited soon after the Union 
ticket was placed in the field by the withdrawal of 
Senator Timothy Ives, of Potter, from the State ticket 
for surveyor general, and substituting ex-Representa- 
tive John Rowe, of Fj'anklin. Some alleged irregu- 
larity in Mr. Ives* public record, that would not now 
be considered for a moment as an impediment to the 
success of a candidate, was discovered, and the Demo- 
crats demanded his declination, as they could not afford 
to have a single weak point in their line of battle. The 
contest was fought out not only with earnestness on 
both sides, but with more or less desperation, and the 
Democratic ticket was successful by a very narrow 
majority. The following is the official vote of the 
State : 

Canal Commissioner. 

Scott, Democrat 2 12,886 

Cochran, Whig 210,111 

Scott*8 majority 2,775 

Auditor General. 

Pry, Democrat 2 1 3,468 

Phelps, Know Nothing 209,361 

Fry'9 majority , 3iao7 

Of Pennsylvania ^53 

Surveyor General. 

Rowe, Democrat 313,633 

LaPorte, Republican ao8,888 

Rowe's majority 3i735 

Many interesting incidents of this great struggle, in 
which the RepubKcan party made its first appearance 
as a National political factor, are worthy of record, 
and will occupy another chapter. 

254 Old Time Notes 


Forney Conducted the Campaign for Buchanan with Masterly Ability — 
His Intimate Relations with Buchanan — Forney was to be Editor 
of the Washington National Organ and Senate Printer if Buchanan 
Succeeded — That Assured Him Distinction in His Profession and 
Ample Fortune — Aggressive Opposition to Forney as Editor of the 
Democratic Organ from the South — His Jamison Letter, brought 
out in the Forrest Divorce Case, made the Breach — Buchanan 
Assents to the Sacrifice of Forney — Forney Advised of it by Bu- 
chanan's Secretary — Continued His Battle Confident that Bu- 
chanan would do Him Justice — A Cabinet Position Tendered to 
Forney — Buchanan Forced to Recall it — Buchanan asked the 
Legislature to Elect Forney United States Senator — Cameron 
Combines the Republicans with the Democratic Votes of Lebo, 
Maneer and Wagenseller and Defeats Forney — A Foreign Mission 
Tendered to Forney — Final Estrangement between Buchanan and 

COLONEL John W. Forney was chairman of the 
Democratic State committee in 1856, and had 
absolute charge of the great battle that was 
fought for the election of Buchanan, to whom he 
was romantically attached. He had received his 
chief education at the printer's case in Lancaster, 
Mr. Buchanan's home city, and gained National dis- 
tinction as editor of the ** Pennsylvanian'* in the con- 
test of 1844 between Polk and Clay. He proved 
himself a foeman worthy even of the steel of one of 
the most accomplished and forceful Whig editors of 
that day, Joseph R. Chandler, of the ** United States 
Gazette. " He was called to the leadership by Buch- 
anan himself, and Forney developed grand resources 
not only as a political organizer, but in his varied 
methods to inspire the people of the State to sup- 

Of Pennsylvania 255 

port the only hopeful candidate for President ever 
presented by Pennsylvania. I saw him many times 
during the contest, and he always seemed to be wholly 
absorbed in what he evidently regarded as the great 
battle of his life. His wife and children spent a large 
portion of the summer at Wheatland, Buchanan's 
beautiful home on the outskirts of Lancaster city, 
and from the time the political lines were formed in 
the early midsummer until the campaign closed with 
the election of Buchanan, Forney never allowed 
himself so much as a whole day at one time to visit 
his chief and his family. 

Buchanan and Forney were entirely different in 
temperament. Buchanan was naturally cold, cal- 
culating and reserved, while Forney was nothing if 
not enthusiastic and impetuous. Forney was in his 
personal attributes as lovable as a woman, with a face 
and form befitting an Apollo, and his dominating 
qualities were gentleness and affection, but when 
brought into battle he was sublimely heroic. 

It was Buchanan's own proposition, dictated not 
only by his affection for Forney, but by his sense of 
duty, that Forney was to receive as his reward, in the 
event of Buchanan's election, the editorship of the 
"Washington Union," the organ of the administra- 
tion, and the Senate printing. His whole ambition 
was in the line of his profession, in which he stood 
among the most eminent in the land, and he would 
have regarded it as a crowning triumph of his editorial 
career to be the chief editor of the National organ of 
the Buchanan administration, while the Senate print- 
ing, then one of the profitable abuses of the age, that 
was by universal custom accorded to the organ of the 
administration, would have given him ample fortime. 

Buchanan had many times spoken to Forney, in 
the presence of Forney's family and others, of the 

256 Old Time Notes 

gratification it would aflFord him, if elected President, 
to give Forney what he then regarded as the highest 
editorial honors, with a handsome forttme added in 
the Senate printing. Unforttmately it became whis- 
pered in the South that Forney would become the 
editor of the organ of the administration if Buchanan 
was elected, and very earnest remonstrances came to 
Buchanan from leading men of the South, many of 
them demanding a pledge from Buchanan that Forney 
shotild be provided for in some other way. The com- 
monly accepted idea at that time was that Forney 
was not acceptable to the South because he was not 
regarded as entirely soimd on the slavery question, 
but that asstmiption is erroneous. Forney had fought 
the battle of the South in Philadelphia with great 
courage and ability for years, but one of his romantic 
attachments was for Edwin Forrest, the actor, and 
he profoundly sympathized with Forrest in his struggle 
for a divorce from Mrs. Forrest. The case attracted 
not only national but international interest, as Mrs. 
Forrest was a prominent English actress. 

Forrest, whether justly or unjustly, was entirely 
convinced of the infidelity of his wife, but his evi- 
dence, although very strong, was not conclusive, as 
was shown by the verdict of the New York jury. 
Forrest had proceeded for a divorce on statutory 
grounds, to which his wife answered, demanding that 
the divorce be awarded to her on statutory grounds, 
and the jury gave the divorce to Mrs. Forrest, with 
$3,000 annual alimony, and giving her the right to 
marry, while denying it to Forrest. I met Forrest 
frequently with Forney during the last decade of 
Forrest's life, and Forney always exhibited agonizing 
sympathy with Forrest, and I could well understand 
how Forney had been misled by his ardent attach- 
ment for Forrest into writing the Jamison letter, in 

^fil>-M* /v. t—J^O-tM*!^ 

« »• > 

• • » . 

Of Pennsylvania 257 

which he suggested that the suspected lover of Mrs. 
Forrest shotdd be gotten into his cups and led to a 
confession of his criminal relations with Forrest's wife. 

This letter was brought out in the Forrest trial, and 
while it was defended or excused by few, if any, the 
Southern journals and leading public men of the 
South criticised Forney with great severity. His many 
friends, who knew him personally and knew his strong 
affectionate temperament, and his unqualified devo- 
tion to Forrest, well understood that Forney was seek- 
ing to obtain only what he believed to be the truth, 
but Southern chivalry, however shadowed by felonious 
gallantries, accepted Forney's error as unpardonable. 
It was this circumstance that made the leading men 
of the South protest against Forney becoming the 
oracle of the Democratic National administration. 

Buchanan was a man of most methodical and 
industrious habits, and he never employed a secretary 
until well on in the campaign of 1856. His letters 
were all written in his own hand, in almost copper- 
plate style, but the voluminous correspondence of 
the campaign compelled him finally to ask Forney 
for a secretary to assist him, and Forney sent him 
William V. McKean. McKean remained with Buch- 
anan a month or more, and saw the increasing 
demand made upon Buchanan from day to day for a 
pledge that Forney should not be the editor of the 
National organ. Several weeks before the October 
election Buchanan dictated a letter to McKean, 
giving a pledge that Forney should not become editor 
of the ** Washington Union," in the event of his 
election. McKean wrote and mailed the letter without 
exhibiting his feeling to Buchanan, asked permission 
to make a hturied visit to his home, and came to 
Philadelphia and informed Forney what Buchanan 
had done, and declared his purpose to resign his posi- 


258 Old Time Notes 

tion as Buchanan s secretary. Forney was greatly 
distressed, but doubtless felt what he said to McKean, 
that if Buchanan had given the pledge he was moved 
by imperative necessities, and he could be safely 
trusted to do jtistice to Forney. McKean was per- 
suaded to return and perform his duties as Buchanan's 
secretary imtil the close of the campaign. 

Colonel Forney well imderstood the situation pre- 
sented by the October election in 1856. While he 
had secured for his State ticket mere nominal majori- 
ties, he knew that it was practically a drawn battle, 
and that the November struggle would be even more 
desperate than the one that had just ended. Buch- 
anan had not given an intimation of his pledge to 
refuse to Forney what Forney most of all things 
desired, nor did Forney intimate to Buchanan that 
he knew of the pledge that Buchanan had made. 
He had faith in Buchanan's fidelity, and his interest 
and efforts in the desperate battle were increased 
rather than abated. He was confronted with the 
most appalling charges of fraud, circumstantially 
portrayed, acctising him of using many thousands of 
fraudulent naturalization papers, and the feeling of 
the Union leaders and people that they had been 
defrauded out of victory in October made them rally 
with increased desperation in the November struggle. 

They not only charged the use of false naturaliza- 
tion papers and other election frauds, but nearly a 
score of men were later convicted of having perpetrated 
frauds upon the ballot at that election. The Union 
leaders called a general conference at Harrisburg, 
that I attended, and the response was so general from 
every section of the State that we met in the hall of 
the house of representatives, and it was filled with 
as earnest a body of men as I ever saw assembled. 
In the white heat of such a contest it was not difficult 

Of Pennsylvania 259 

for the Union leaders to accept the conviction that 
they had been defrauded out of their victory, and they 
there not only resolved to renew the struggle with 
increased energy, but to inaugurate a relentless war 
against the corruption of the ballot. 

I met Colonel Forney repeatedly during the contest 
between the two elections, and toward the close of 
the campaign he was utterly exhausted mentally and 
physically, but he stood to his guns until he scored a 
narrow victory, giving Buchanan only a thousand 
majority over the combined vote of Fremont and 
Fillmore. The imion effected on the State ticket 
between the several organizations opposed to Demo- 
cracy was finally, after much negotiation, carried to 
the arrangement of a Union electoral ticket. There 
was considerable difficulty with some of the Know 
Nothing leaders, as they were very much averse to the 
radical views of the Republicans, but it was finally 
agreed that there should be but one electoral ticket 
voted by the three organizations that had imited on 
a Union State ticket. One elector was to be sacri- 
ficed by printing two electoral tickets for the Union 
party, one of which had as its first candidate fot 
elector the name of Millard Fillmore and the other 
had as the first candidate for elector the name of John 
C. Fremont. 

General Cameron came to the front as a supporter 
of Fremont, and was placed on the ticket as an elector- 
at-large, and the electors were divided between Whigs, 
Know Nothings and Republicans. The agreement 
was very explicit, and, to avoid all misimderstanding, 
it was formulated in writing. The electors were each 
solemiily pledged to give a solid vote for either Fre- 
mont or Fillmore if the electoral vote of the State 
would elect either to the Presidency. If, however, 
the entire electoral vote of Pennsylvania would not 

26o Old Time Notes 

give success to either of the Union candidates, then 
the Union electors, if chosen by the people, should 
divide the vote of the State between Fremont and 
Fillmore in proportion to the vote received by each. 
As Fillmore's name headed one ticket and Fremont's 
name headed the other, it was very easy to determine 
the relative strength of the two candidates at the polls. 
There is no doubt that if the Union electoral ticket 
had been successful in the State the agreement would 
have been carried out with hearty fidelity, but, as 
the ticket was defeated, all dispute on the subject 

The very small majority received by Buchanan in 
his native State that had voted for every Democratic 
candidate for President for more than half a century, 
with the single exception of Harrison and Taylor, 
who were elected in sweeping political cyclones, was 
very mortifying alike to Buchanan and the Demo- 
cratic leaders, but under the conditions which con- 
fronted them they were glad to escape with any major- 
ity. Had the Know Nothing element been faithful 
to the compact, both the State and National elections 
of 1856 would have been against Buchanan. John 
P. Sanderson, who had been senator from Lebanon, 
and one of the editors of the ** Daily News, '' of Phila- 
delphia, was in charge of the American wing of the 
combination, and his private conferences with Forney 
were discovered some weeks before the election, and 
finally a letter from Sanderson to Forney was inter- 
cepted, in which Sanderson invited Forney to meet 
him and come in by the back door. This was after 
the October election, and the exposure came like a 
bombshell, but it accomplished nothing beyond perhaps 
intensifying the conservative or pro-slavery Know 
Nothings in their hostility to the Union cause. The 
official vote for President was: Buchanan, 230,710; 

Of Pennsylvania 261 

Fremont. 147,510; Fillmore, 82,175, giving Buchanan 
1,025 majority over the combined vote of the oppo- 

Immediately after the election Buchanan informed 
Forney of the pledge he had given to exclude Forney 
from the editorship of the National organ, and asked 
Forney to indicate what other position he would prefer. 
Forney, without reflection, suggested a cabinet ap- 
pointment, to which Buchanan promptly assented. 
It would have been a mistake for Forney to enter the 
cabinet. Great as he was as a political organizer 
and writer, he was not distinguished for executive 
qualities, and he could not have lived with his family 
on the salary paid a cabinet officer, but he was doubt- 
less impelled by the desire to vindicate himself against 
his assailants in the South. 

I met Forney soon after this arrangement had 
been made between Buchanan and himself, and at 
his suggestion I wrote a Philadelphia letter to the 
New York '* Tribune, *' predicting the appointment of 
Forney to a cabinet position and highly commending 
the selection. As soon as his name was publicly dis- 
cussed as a probable cabinet officer the same Southern 
leaders who had driven him from the editorship of 
the National organ became vehement in their protests 
against his admission to the cabinet, and Buchanan 
finally yielded and advised Forney that he must recall 
the tender. The South had voted solidly for Buchanan 
with the exception of Maryland, and he felt that he 
could not commence his administration with formid- 
able hostility from the most powerful section that 
supported him. 

Forney was again asked to state the appointment 
he could accept from Buchanan, and he named the 
senatorship, to which Buchanan cordially assented, 
and wrote a personal letter to Canal Commissioner 

262 Old Time Notes 

Mott, of Pike County, urging the nomination of Forney, 
who, until then, had not been thought of as a candi- 
date for the senatorship. It had been generally 
accepted that Henry D. Foster, then a member of 
the hotise, who had been in Congress, and was a 
nominee for Governor in i860, wotJd be chosen. A 
Pennsylvania President just on the threshold of the 
immense power of the National administration, could 
successfully dictate to the Legislature, and Forney 
was nominated, but while there was no sign of open 
rebellion when the nomination was made, the demorali- 
zation of the party was visible to all, and many of the 
Democrats who voted for him, although they joined 
in the universal and violent denunciations of the 
three Democrats who voted against him, lost no sleep 
in worrying over Forney's defeat. The Legislature 
had three Democratic majority on joint ballot, and 
three Democratic representatives, Lebo and Wagen- 
seller, of Schuylkill, and Maneer, of York, voted for 
Cameron and gave him the election. 

Thus Forney lost the third position he had reason 
to expect from the Buchanan administration, and 
both he and Buchanan were profoundly mortified and 
humiliated by the action of the Legislature. 

It is due to Buchanan to say that he was earnestly 
desirous of rewarding Forney in any satisfactory way 
that was within his power. Forney had been for- 
ttmate, through some friends in Washington, in acquir- 
ing a small fortune for that time, and he had placed 
it in Mr. Buchanan's hands as trustee for Mrs. Forney, 
as Forney was not conspicuous as an economist. Buch- 
anan 's next offer was to give the German mission 
to Forney, and the President had personally arranged 
so that Forney should receive, in addition to his 
salary as minister, $5,000 annually from some commer- 
ci^ interests. Buchanan urged Forney to accept it, 

Of Pennsylvania 


as he could live very comfortably on his income, edu- 
cate his children and save money. 

Forney was inclined to accept it as Mr. Buchanan 
was very earnest in urging it, but Mrs. Forney per- 
emptorily refused her assent, and Buchanan's offer 
was declined. That was the beginning of the end of 
Forney's close relations with Buchanan. Buchanan 
felt disappointed at Forney's refusal of the offer of 
the German mission, and the chilly breath of estrange- 
ment had entered between them. Buchanan's last 
offer was a proposition to give Forney a large amoimt 
of postoffice printing, but Forney could not see his 
way clear to accept it, and, smarting keenly under his 
ostracism by the South, he decided that an independ- 
ent editorial career was his line of duty and the best 
prospect of success, and the result was the establish- 
ment in Philadelphia of "The Press" in August, 1857. 

264 Old Time Notes 


Forney's Desperate Battle for Buchanan Greatly Inflamed the Supporters 
of Fremont and Fillmore — They Openly Declared that the State 
Election was Carried by Fraud — When Forney was Nominated 
for Senator They were Ready to make any Combination to Defeat 
Him — Cameron Not Acceptable to the Republicans, but the Desire 
to Defeat Forney Dominated — Senator Charles B. Penrose Managed 
Cameron's Contest — A Republican Committee Visits Lebo, Maneer 
and Wagenseller — The Republicans finally Agree to Cast One Solid 
Vote for Cameron to give the Democratic Opponents of Forney 
a Chance to Defeat Him — Interesting Incidents of the Senatorial 
Election in the Hall of the House — Stirring Scene after the Roll 
Call — Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller Compelled to Leave their 

THE Presidential campaign of 1856 was a revela- 
tion to the old-time political leaders. Fremont 
was nominated by a free-for-all convention 
that selected a man imknown in statesmanship for 
the Presidency with a radical Republican platform, 
and the Democrats naturally calculated on an easy 
victory, but they were speedily confronted by a tidal 
wave of impulsive politics, inspired by the sincerest 
and profoundest conviction on the slavery question, 
with largely new and strange leadership. College pro- 
fessors, with a very large proportion of their graduates, 
and many ministers, were for the first time in the 
front rank of political disputation, and the Democrats 
were appalled from time to time as their own leaders 
deserted and joined in the new political crusade against 

Governor Reeder, of Easton, the most forceful 
intellect of all the Democrats in the State, and who 

Of Pennsylvania 265 

had been Pierce s Gk)vemor of Kansas, startled his 
party in the State and country by announcing his ptir- 
pose to support Fremont. Johii M. Read, who had 
battled in the Democratic ranks for a full generation, 
and who was the leader of the Philadelphia bar, sur- 
prised his party associates by taking the stump for 
Fremont. David Wilmot and Galusha A. Grow, the 
two great leaders of the Democracy of the Northern 
tier, were promptly at the front imder the Fremont 
banner, as was J. Kennedy Moorehead, the strongest 
Democratic leader of Allegheny. It was the most earn- 
est practical campaign I have ever witnessed in Pennsyl- 
vania and it was an educational campaign on the 
Republican side from start to finish. They not only 
held large mass meetings, but they had their speakers 
in almost every township in the State. Local mass 
meetings were held in the schoolhouses and at the cross- 
roads where the country people could be gathered, 
and a class of stump speakers, unknown as a rule in 
previous campaigns, delivered able and impressive 
appeals to the masses. 

The Democrats were put upon their mettle, and the 
many able Pennsylvania campaigners, and a host of 
others from different States, were heard on the hust- 
ings in Buchanan's home State to an extent never 
before known in political conflicts. When Mr. Ives 
was withdrawn from the State ticket simply because 
of some alleged official irregularity that did not involve 
any criming purpose, the Democratic convention was 
recalled to meet at Chambersburg, where I then re- 
sided, and I listened most intently to Colonel Forney's 
great speech before the convention in which he out- 
lined the battle with unusual candor, as he then fully 
appreciated the desperate struggle that confronted 
him. He predicted disunion in the event of Fremont's 
election, and made a most eloquent and impassioned 

266 Old Time Notes 

appeal for the election of Buchanan as the only safety 
for the iinity of the Republic. He was my guest at 
dinner during the meeting of the convention, and we 
spent an hour alone over cigars, during which he 
poured out the intensity of his earnestness for Buch- 
anan's election to prevent fraternal strife, and per- 
sonally appealed to me to join him in his great work. 
I told him that the Cincinnati platform made Buchanan 
an impossible candidate, much as I respected him and 
little as I hoped from Fremont. 

The result in Pennsylvania has already been given 
in these notes. The several elements in opposition 
could not be completely united in local contests, and 
the Democrats elected fifteen of the twenty-five Con- 
gressmen, but John Hickman, one of the fifteen Demo- 
crats elected, broke with Forney against Buchanan, 
and ultimately became one of the Republican leaders 
of the House, and William Montgomery, of Washing- 
ton, another of the Democrats elected, became a 
Douglas leader against Buchanan. The senate stood 
fifteen Democrats to eighteen opposition, and the 
house had fifty-three Democrats to forty-seven oppo- 
sition, giving the Democrats six majority in the house 
and the opposition three majority in the senate, 
leaving three Democratic majority on joint ballot. 
The nomination of Forney for United States Senator, 
having been literally forced by President-elect Buch- 
anan, was a very bitter pill for Henry D. Foster and 
his friends. Foster was a member of the house, 
having come to the popular branch of the Legislature 
after having served in Congress, solely for the purpose 
of making himself United States Senator. He was a 
man of strong intellectual qualities, and personally a 
universal favorite because of his very amiable attri- 
butes. He came into the support of Forney, but with- 
out visible cordiality, and there was a very strong 

Of Pennsylvania 267 

rebellious undercurrent of Democratic sentiment 
against the President-elect controlling the Democratic 
nomination for Senator against the known wishes 
of the Legislature. 

It was this demoralization, deep-seated, but not 
visible on the surface, that opened the doors for Lebo, 
Maneer, and Wagenseller, three Democratic members 
of the house, to betray Forney and elect Cameron. 
The opposition members were smarting under the 
defeat that Forney had given them in October, and the 
disposition was very general to avenge the wrong they 
believed he had done them and their cause. There 
were very few of the opposition members who were 
friendly to Cameron, and certainly not one-fourth of 
their entire ntmiber would have preferred him as their 
candidate for Senator; but Cameron, with his excep- 
tional shrewdness as a political manager, saw that he 
could depend upon the resentments against Forney 
among the opposition members to support him if he 
could assure them of his ability to defeat Forney. 
Cameron was most fortunate in having in the senate 
as one of his few earnest friends Charles B. Penrose, 
grandfather of the present Senator, Boies Penrose, 
who had just been chosen to the senate from Phila- 
delphia. He had been in the senate a quarter of a 
century before from Cumberland County, was greatly 
disappointed in not being called to the Harrison cabinet 
in 1 84 1, and resigned the speakership of the senate 
to accept a department position at Washington. He 
was a man of ripe experience and great sagacity in 
politics, and he was very earnest in his desire to punish 
Forney, and quite as earnest in his desire to promote 
his friend, General Cameron. 

No one in the opposition caucus ventured to nomi- 
nate Cameron as the candidate against Forney, for the 
reason that it would not have prevailed, but Cameron 

268 Old Time Notes 

had the positive assurance from Representatives Lebo, 
Maneer and Wagenseller, all Democrats, that they 
would vote for him if their votes could elect him. 
Cameron communicated that information to Penrose. 
As the Democratic majority on joint ballot was only 
three, the defection of three votes with the imited 
opposition would give Cameron the election. Penrose 
very shrewdly stated to the Republican caucus that 
he had good reason to believe that if the opposition 
members would unite in the support of General Cam- 
eron he could command a sufficient number of Demo- 
cratic votes to elect him. The caucus refused to take 
any action on the subject until the members could have 
absolute information as to the Democratic defection, 
and Penrose finally proposed that three members of the 
caucus, in whom the caucus could have implicit con- 
fidence, and whose discretion could be fully trusted, 
should be conducted to the presence of three Demo- 
cratic members who proposed to vote for Cameron, 
and receive the assurance from them and report at a 
later meeting of the caucus. 

Cameron at once arranged with Lebo, Maneer and 
Wagenseller to meet the committee of the opposition 
caucus at Omit's Hotel, and give the assurance re- 
quired, and the committee reported to the caucus that 
they had seen the three Democratic members of the 
Legislature, whose names they were not then at liberty 
to divulge, who pledged their sacred honor that if the 
opposition members united in the support of Cameron 
they would give him their votes and elect him. The 
only persons on the Cameron side who knew of the 
arrangement with Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller to 
vote for Cameron, were Cameron himself, his son Don- 
ald, George Bergner and John J. Patterson, and the 
younger Cameron, with Bergner and Patterson, were 
Cameron's skirmishing force, and they watched the 

Of Pennsylvania 269 

rear of Omit's Hotel as Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller 
were aijmitted by the back yard to Cameron's room, 
where the opposition caucus committee was assembled, 
and when they saw the three Democratic members 
safely inside, they dispersed. 

The opposition caucus was somewhat distrustful, 
and instead of nominating Cameron for Senator, they 
adopted a resolution that they would give him a imited 
vote on one ballot, but that the obligation to vote for 
Cameron was not to go beyond that period. There 
were many reluctant votes given in support of the 
resolution as a large proportion of the opposition 
members were positively hostile to Cameron, but they 
were intensely inflamed against Forney, and they 
believed that Cameron had severed his connection with 
Democracy, and if elected to the Senate would be 
opposed to the Buchanan administration. 

At that time the Legislature did not vote for Senator 
in the separate bodies as they do now, and no vote was 
taken for Senator imtil the joint convention met, 
when the compact was carried out to the letter, and 
Cameron was elected over Forney for a full-term 
senatorship. The whole arrangement was conducted 
with such secrecy that not one of the opposition 
legislators had any idea as to what Democrats had 
bolted, and the Democrats themselves did not doubt 
the fidelity of Lebo, Maneer and Wagenseller until 
they cast their votes in the joint convention The 
three bolting Democrats had not only refused to vote 
for the regular Democratic candidate for Senator, but 
they voted for, and elected as Senator, the man who 
had been at the head of the Fremont electoral ticket in 
the last campaign, and their action was an absolute 
betrayal of the plighted faith of the party that elected 

A hurricane of resentment struck Lebo, Maneer and 

2 70 Old Time Notes 

Wagenseller. Many of the Democratic members of 
the house refused to recognize them. The Pennsyl- 
vania Hotel,where they boarded, required them at once 
to find another boarding house, and all the prominent 
hotels of the city refused them admission, compelling 
them to accept the hospitality of obscure private rooms. 
The Democrats of the senate and house drew up a 
formal protest against the admission of Cameron to 
the Senate, signed by all the members, alleging that 
his election was tainted with corruption, and urging 
that the validity of his election be carefully inquired 
into, but as no specific evidence of corruption could be 
presented, beyond the fact that three Democrats had 
voted for a Republican for Senator, the Senate could 
not take cognizance of the protest, and Cameron was 
logically admitted to the Senate without question. 

The spectacle in the hall of the house of representa- 
tives when the joint convention met to elect a United 
States Senator was one long to be remembered. There 
was quiet anxiety on the part of the opposition, and 
sullen apprehension among the Democrats. There 
were no boisterous demonstrations of any kind. The 
opposition were hopeful, but not entirely confident, 
as only three of their number knew where the Demo- 
cratic votes were to come from, and the Democrats 
felt that there was some subtle miasma in the political 
atmosphere, but they were bewildered in attempting 
to locate it. 

Senator Taggart, opposition, of Northumberland, 
was president of the senate, and presided over the joint 
convention. He had been one of the most violent 
opponents of Cameron two years before in the Know 
Nothing jangle, and had written the most defamatory 
paragraphs against Cameron issued to the public by a 
number of senators and representatives. He was 
more open and defiant against Cameron than any mem- 

Of Pennsylvania 271 

ber of the Legislature only two years before, but 
Cameron took summary vengeance upon him, and before 
a year had elapsed he saw that Cameron was a dan- 
gerous man for him to quarrel with. Taggart's father 
was the responsible head of the Northumberland 
Bank, then a very soimd and successful cotmtry bank- 
ing institution. Senator Taggart was its solicitor, and 
the family largely depended upon the income from the 
bank for its livelihood. Cameron arranged with his 
brother, William Cameron, of Lewisburg, who was then 
a large stockholder in the Northimiberland Bank, to 
quietly purchase a majority of the stock, and he suc- 
ceeded in doing so. The result was that at the next 
election the entire Taggart family were turned out and 
the friends of Cameron put in their places. After two 
years of experience in wrangling Senator Taggart made 
satisfactory terms with Cameron, and he earnestly 
supported Cameron's election in 1857. 

Cameron was not forgetful of the service rendered 
him, as he earnestly supported Taggart for Governor 
against Curtin in i860, but without success, and after 
Cameron became Secretary of War, and the army list 
was enlarged, he appointed Senator Taggart the first 
paymaster in the regular army from civil life. This 
gave Taggart a life office, and he felt that Cameron had 
fulfilled his bond. 

When the joint convention was called to order the 
profoimdest silence prevailed throughout the vast 
assemblage, as the hall was crowded to its utmost 
capacity. When the roll-call began there was no 
break tmtil nearly half the list had been called. The 
Democrats generally voted for Forney, but there were 
a few who gave Foster a complimentary vote, intend- 
ing to change their votes before the result would be 
announced, while the opposition members voted solidly 
for Cameron. When the name of Lebo was reached 

272 Old Time Notes 

he startled all the members present, with the exception 
of the members of the committee who had conferred 
with the bolting Democrats, by announcing the namie 
of Simon Cameron in distinct tones. 

The vote of Lebo came like a thimderclap from an 
tmclouded sky to the Democrats, and one of their 
leaders arose and attempted to make an impassioned 
appeal to the Democratic members to cast a united 
vote for their candidate, but he was speedily called to 
order and reasonable qtiiet was finally restored. The 
opposition members felt confident that the needed 
number of Democratic votes would come from some- 
where, and the Democrats realized that Lebo would 
not have voted alone for Cameron, and that there 
must be other Democratic votes yet to come. Maneer's 
name was called soon after, and he, in a feeble voice, 
annotmced his vote for Cameron. His vote with that 
of Lebo assured Cameron's election with the imited 
opposition vote, and of course the imited opposition 
vote was assured when the defeat of Forney was clearly 
within their power. There were a few soft hisses, but 
silence was promptly restored, and the list was called 
on until nearly the close, when the name of Wagen- 
seller was annotmced, and he declared for Cameron in a 
distinct and defiant tone. 

When the calling of the roll closed, J. Lawrence Getz, 
speaker of the house, who sat beside Speaker Taggart, 
rose up and attempted to make a most inflammatory 
speech, but Taggart, who was a man of powerfiil 
physical force, took him by the arm and forced him 
back into his chair, telling him, in terms loud enough 
for all to hear, not to make a fool of himself. This 
comic feature of an occasion that was verging close to 
tragedy, called out the humor of the opposition mem- 
bers, and while the Democrats stormed, the opposition 
responded in hearty laughter, and in a few minutes 

Of Pennsylvania 


Speaker Taggart annoiinced the election of Cameron, 
and the adjoiimment of the convention without delay. 
Donald Cameron, with Patterson, was standing on the 
left of the speaker, close to the rear window, and as 
soon as the result was annotmced, they hoisted the 
window, sprang out on to the pavement six feet below, 
and rushed down to Omit's Hotel, where General 
Cameron was waiting, and informed him of his elec- 
tion. He immediately started with his son to his 
coimtry home, and did not return to the city tmtil the 
next day. 

It was with much diffictilty that Lebo, Maneer and 
Wagenseller got away from the Capitol, and they 
would not have escaped violence but for the fact that 
they were promptly surroimded by a number of able- 
bodied men, who protected them to their hotels, where 
they were greeted with dismissal by the landlords. 
They were allowed to occupy their seats during the 
remainder of the session, but they were severely 
ostracised by all the Democrats and not much respected 
by most of the opposition. They were all very ordi- 
nary men who never could have gained any distinction 
in public life, but they made their humble names im- 
mortal in the political memories of the State by the 
• one act of reversing a Democratic majority in the 
Legislature and electing a Republican Senator. 


274 Old Time Notes 


The Opposing Political Characteristics of Buchanan and Cameron^ 
Buchanan Unjustly Censured as Sympathizing with the Rebellion — 
The Circumstances of His Election — ^The Solid South had Chosen 
Him President — ^Judge Black's Story of the Inner Movements of 
the Buchanan Cabinet — Interesting Incident of Black's Correction 
of Buchanan's Answer to the Southern Commissioners — Black as 
Buchanan's Ablest and Most Devoted Friend. 

GENERAL CAMERON entered upon his second 
term in the Senate simultaneously with the 
inauguration of President Buchanan. He had 
first entered the Senate as Buchanan's successor, 
simultaneously with Buchanan's appearance as premier 
of the Polk administration, and in both instances he 
was an irritating thorn in the side of Buchanan. No 
two men could be more unlike than were Buchanan 
and Cameron in temperament, in taste, in method 
and in the trend of their intellectual forces. 

Buchanan was a painstaking student, conservative, 
commanding respect rather than affection from his 
associates, while Cameron was aggressive, always 
looking to the end to be attained rather than to the 
means employed, and always cherishing the warmest 
attachment for his friends. Buchanan was trained 
in statesmanship and in its severest school. His 
first service in Congress, covering a number of years, 
was as a Federalist, and while he later accepted the 
Democratic faith with absolute sincerity and adhered 
to it unfalteringly, he was not a leader whose keen 
perception and prompt action could be relied upon to 
guide a party in an emergency. He was a statesman 

Of Pennsylvania 275 

of the old school that sedulously discredited innova- 
tions, while Cameron without claims to statesmanship 
was a consummate politician, a man of broad intel- 
lectual force and capable of employing his faculties 
to the uttermost when the occasion demanded it. 

Cameron could be patient and conservative, or 
keen and aggressive, as occasion demanded, and 
when the new problems arose which culminated in 
civil war his adaptability to new conditions was 
vastly greater than that of Buchanan. Buchanan 
adhered to the theories of old-school statesmanship. 
He believed in the resolutions of 1798, which were 
known to have come from the pens of Jefferson and 
Madison, and that made Buchanan invest them with 
sanctity, while Cameron, in his eminently practical 
way, never took pause over the traditions or records 
of the past when new conditions and new necessities 
confronted him. 

If North and South had taken coimsel with Cameron 
during the period of Buchanan's administration, civil 
war would have been averted and slavery preserved. 
Every new problem that came up Cameron was ready 
to meet in an equitable and practicable way, and 
when war came he was one of the foremost to declare 
that slavery must be overthrown. There never was 
any intercourse between Buchanan as President and 
Cameron as Senator beyond the necessary official 
courtesies. They had parted in their political paths 
as early as 1845, when Cameron became Buchanan's 
successor in the Senate, and during the fotir years 
of the Buchanan administration Cameron ranked 
as a conservative Republican. 

President Buchanan has been very unjustly cen- 
sured as largely responsible for the precipitation of 
civil war, and for alleged disloyalty to the govern- 
ment during the war. Those yet living who knew 

276 Old Time Notes 

him need not be told that he would have given his life 
if necessary for the preservation of the peace and 
unity of the Republic. He was responsible for per- 
mitting the South to pursue its policy looking to seces- 
sion until it was too late to halt it, but when secession 
came he took a bold stand in favor of the maintenance 
of the Union, and while profoundly deploring the war 
against the South that had made him President, he 
never uttered a sentence during the war that was not 
in favor of the imion of the States, and the employ- 
ment of war to any extent necessary to accomplish it. 
He exhibited a great interest in pubhc affairs, although 
in a very unostentatious way, and wrote hundreds of 
letters to his Democratic friends always displaying 
absolute loyalty to the government. 

In 1863, when it was feared that the supreme court 
of Pennsylvania would declare the National con- 
scription law unconstitutional, Buchanan laid aside 
the delicacy that he always exhibited in his relations 
with judges, by writing a most earnest letter to Chief 
Justice Woodward, appealing to him not to commit 
such a wrong against the country and the Democratic 
party; but his patriotic counsel was unheeded, and 
Woodward fell in the race for Governor because the 
loyalty of the court and of its chief justice was dis- 

It should be remembered that Mr. Buchanan entered 
the Presidency tmder very peculiar circumstances 
and conditions. He did not receive a majority vote 
in a Northern State with the single exception of Penn- 
sylvania, where he had a majority of little more than 
one thousand. California, Illinois, Indiana, New 
Jersey and Pennsylvania gave him their electoral 
votes, but there were large majorities against him in 
Illinois and Indiana, and smaller majorities against 
him in California and New Jersey. On the other hand, 

Of Pennsylvania 277 

Fremont did not receive in all the slave States over 
one thousand votes. To be precise, he had 308 in 
Delaware, 314 in Kentucky, 281 in Maryland and 
291 in Virginia, and yet, receiving only the vote of a 
single section of the Union, Buchanan had less than 
half of a million plurality over him. 

The contest was conducted entirely on sectional 
issues. They were forced upon the Democrats by the 
radical and aggressive Republicanism that had sprung 
into being in great proportions almost in a day, and 
the solid South gave Buchanan a majority of the 
popular vote in every State excepting only Maryland, 
where Fillmore received some 8,000 majority over 
Buchanan. While North and South were intensely 
inflamed by the vehemence with which the sectional 
issue was pressed by the Republican leaders, Buchanan 
was chosen President solely because the South had 
stood by him in almost imbroken column, while a 
large majority of the Northern States had voted 
against him, and in all except Pennsylvania the 
majority refused to accept him as the ruler of the 
Republic. With all of Buchanan's severely con- 
scientious devotion to justice he could not but be 
profoimdly impressed with his obligation to the South 
that had come forward and rescued him from the 
overwhelming majority of his own section. 

Buchanan's fimdamental error as President was in 
assuming that old conditions must continue to govern. 
He did not appreciate the fact that a new era had 
dawned upon the nation that could not be turned 
backward or even halted. He regarded the immense 
Republican majority in the North as a sudden ebulli- 
tion of sectional passion that would speedily run its 
cotirse and perish. He believed that his election to 
the Presidency was a final judgment that must settle 
the sectional dispute on the basis of the Compromise 

278 Old Time Notes 

measures of 1850. So confident was he of the cor- 
rectness of this assumption that in his inaugural 
address he foreshadowed the then not yet proclaimed 
judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States 
in the Dred Scott case, which was regarded by him 
and by the South generally as the final action needed 
to restore sectional unity. 

This error was possible to Buchanan for the simple 
reason that he conscientiously adhered to the old 
school of statesmanship that had been reverenced 
for more than two generations, and that he believed 
would always command the reverence of the nation. 
He started on his administration entirely confident 
that the sectional disturbance would be quieted, and 
that he would be enabled to retire from his high 
official trust with the country restored to tran- 

Had Buchanan's wishes prevailed with his party, 
there is little reason to doubt that the sectional agita- 
tion that grew in intensity during his entire term 
would have been measurably or wholly restrained. 
The South felt that the final triimiph of slavery had 
been won ; that its right to occupy the teritorries was 
no longer to be questioned, and that even the right 
of the Southerners taking and holding slaves in transit 
in free States would be accepted as the law of the 
land. The hope of new slave States in the territory 
acquired from Mexico had perished, and the South 
immediately staked everything on the issue of forcing 
slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, where climatic 
and all other natural conditions were against it. The 
policy of the violent introduction of slavery into those 
territories had been inaugurated under Pierce, and 
unfortunately had been tolerated if not approved 
by him. 

Buchanan was thus early confronted with the 

Of Pennsylvania 279 

problem of taking issue with the South in its then 
settled policy of forcing slavery into Northern terri- 
tory, or permitting the violent and in every way 
inexcusable crusade to go on. To break with the 
South at the threshold of his power would have been 
fatal to his administration, and he would have been 
openly impaled as an ingrate. He naturally decided 
not to throw himself into the breach against the policy 
of the South, but hoped to restrain it and prevent it 
from further inflaming sectional prejudices. This 
was the fatal step that Buchanan made at the begin- 
ning, but in judging him strong extenuating circum- 
stances should be given due weight. He fidly agreed 
with the South on the policy of coercion, and knowing 
his views on the subject, the South persisted in its 
midsummer madness tmtil secession had actually 
begun after the election of Lincoln. It is doubtftil 
whether imder any circumstances he could have re- 
strained the secession of the Cotton States, after 
Lincoln's election, and the greatest struggle of his 
life came after he had fully awakened to the fact that 
the tolerant policy of his administration had led to 
the actual severance of the States. 

I never fully tmderstood the inside movements of 
the Buchanan cabinet immediately before and at 
the time of the transition of the cabinet and the 
administration to open hostility to the South and 
secession, tmtil two years after the war began, when 
I enjoyed a most interesting and instructive all-night 
talk with ex-Chief Justice Black, who had been first 
Attorney General and then premier of the Buchanan 
administration. I had known Black well for many 
years, and, like all who knew him, not only respected, 
but loved him. He was one of the most fascinating 
conversationalists I have ever met, and there was 
hardly a line of Shakespeare or the Bible or a poetic 

28o Old Time Notes 

sublimity an3rwhere that was not stored away in his 
wonderful memory. 

Black had located at York after he had retired from 
the cabinet to practise his profession. I had charge 
of the draft made under the State laws in the fall of 
1862, and after having made the adjustment of the 
quotas, ordered the draft in Codorus Township, York 
Coimty, for a certain number of men. That town- 
ship was almost solidly Democratic, there being but 
five Republican votes in it to several himdred Demo- 
cratic. It was not surprising that no Republicans 
were drafted, as two of the five had voltmteered and 
were credited to the township. 

Quite a clamor was raised in the township about 
the alleged tmfaimess of the draft, as only Democrats 
had been drafted, and a committee of inflamed citizens 
called upon Judge Black and demanded that he should 
appear as coimsel for them before me to have the 
alleged injustice corrected. Black came to Harris- 
burg one evening and at supper told me what his 
mission was, and that he desired to be heard on the 
subject. I told him that any time that suited him 
would be satisfactory to me — that night if he specially 
desired it, if time was pressing, or the next day at any 
hour that was convenient for himself. I said: **0f 
course. Judge, I will give you all the time you want, 
for there is no person whose speeches I so much enjoy, 
but you certainly know that I will decide against you, 
as you have no possible groimd on which to claim 
relief.'* He stated that he expected that, but that 
it was business to discharge his duty. 

After supper we went up to my room and drifted 
into conversation about old times when he was judge 
of the Chambersburg district, and about the war, 
until he finally noticed that the midnight hour had 
passed. He got up, put his hat on the back of his 

Of Pennsylvania 281 

head, threw his overcoat over his arm, bade me good 
night, and got as far as the door, when he turned 
around to make some remark about what we had 
been discussing, and he unconsciously warmed up on 
the subject, slowly paced back to his chair, seated 
himself, and it was not tmtil broad daylight that the 
conversation ended. He gave me the entire inner 
story of the action of the cabinet and the President 
during the troublous times after the secession move- 
ment began. He told me, what had not then been 
made public, that he had written Buchanan's answer to 
the South Carolina commissioners ; that Buchanan had 
first written an answer and submitted it to the cabinet, 
and it was approved by all the members of the cabinet 
except Cass and Black. Cass resigned soon thereafter 
and Black took his place as Secretary of State. 

Black said little or nothing during the cabinet 
session, but after it adjourned he went to the President 
privately and told him that, much as he loved the 
President, he must sever his relations with his admin- 
istration if that answer was sent to the Southern com- 
missioners. He told me that it was the only time 
he had ever seen Buchanan exhibit great emotion. 
He was silent for a long time, and finally rose up with 
his eyes dimmed with tears, handed the paper to Black 
and told him to rewrite it as he believed it should be. 
Black took the paper, rewrote it, and it was accepted 
by Buchanan without change. That act of Black 
saved Buchanan from adhering to his old-school 
ideas at a time when, had he done so, it would have 
been utterly fatal to his record. I may add here 
that after getting a little sleep and a light breakfast 
I looked aroimd for Black to fix a time for his argu- 
ment, and found that he had gone home, and I never 
heard anything more of the vmlawfulness or irregularity 
of the Codorus draft. 

282 Old Time Notes 

Judge Black was Buchanan's most trusted and 
certainly most devoted friend after Buchanan's retire- 
ment. Black had been for ten years president judge 
in the district embracing Buchanan's native cotmty 
of Franklin. He had been called to the bench by 
Governor Porter when quite a young man because of 
a very earnest contest between Judge Thomson, then 
president judge (father of the late President Frank 
Thomson, of the Pennsylvania Railroad), and Frederick 
Smith, a prominent member of the bar who had been 
speaker of the house. The contest became so ani- 
mated that Porter solved the problem by appointing 
Black from Somerset, who was not personally known 
to the members of the Chambersburg bar, but his 
exceptional record made as president judge in that 
district had made him the youngest man nominated 
for supreme judge in 1851, and when he was elected 
he drew the short term and became at once chief 
justice. He was very popular with the people through- 
out his mountain counties, and was once prevented 
from going to Congress, when the Democrats had 
decided to nominate him without a contest, by the 
Whigs first entering the field and nominating his 
father as the Whig candidate. He was the trusted 
and confidential adviser of Buchanan until his death, 
and it is unfortunate that he did not give posterity 
the benefit of his great intellectual powers and ripe 
experience in dealing with public affairs. 

He continued active in the practice of his profes- 
sion tmtil his death long after he had passed the 
patriarchal age. He was counsel for John C. Fre- 
mont in his serious Paris complications, and finally 
had him released from a criminal conviction that had 
taken place in the absence of the defendant, and he 
was counsel for the dissenting heirs of Commodore 
Vanderbilt, who had willed his vast estate almost 

Of Pennsylvania 283 

entirely to his son William, and obtained a very 
liberal adjustment. 

Buchanan fully appreciated Black, and intended to 
give him the position that Black most earnestly desired, 
that of Supreme Judge of the United States, but he 
tmfortunately delayed the nomination of Black imtil 
by the resignation of Southern Senators the adminis- 
stration had lost control of the Senate, and Black's 
nomination was not acted upon. If he had been 
called to the court of last resort he would have gone 
into history as one of the great jurists of the nation, 
and he would have been consistent in his loyalty to 
the government. 

Buchanan lived until 1868, three years after the 
war had closed, and Cameron had just one year earlier 
entered upon his third term in the United States 
Senate, having defeated Curtin, Stevens, Grow, Moore- 
head and Forney in the race for senatorial honors. 
At the time of Buchanan's death he was very gen- 
erally misunderstood throughout the North. Seces- 
sion had begim under his administration; he had 
been the close friend of the men who causelessly 
precipitated secession, and in the inflamed passions 
of the time he was generally regarded as having been 
faithless to his trust, and not in hearty sympathy 
with the North. He knew how sadly he was mis- 
imderstood and spoke of it freely in private letters 
to his many friends, but he avoided all public demon- 
strations or discussions on the subject, because he 
believed the time had not come when he could pre- 
sent his own vindication to a disappointed public. 

He wrote a small voltmie in which he justified his 
actions as President, and gave very important con- 
tributions to history, but he did not attempt to show 
his attitude in favor of maintaining the unity of the 
States even though it should be done at the point of 

284 Old Time Notes 

the bayonet. It was not until Curtis' " Life and Letters 
of Buchanan" were published some years after his 
death that Buchanan's consistent and earnest loyalty 
to the government during the Civil War was con- 
clusively presented to the public, and he went to his 
grave profoundly respected by all who knew him, 
but harshly judged by many of his coimtrymen as a 
factor in creating fraternal conflict. It caused him 
profound grief to know that he was misjudged as 
faithless in the highest trust of the nation, when, as 
he well knew, he had been scrupulously conscientious 
in his devotion to the tmion of the States, and ready 
to accept his full share of all the sacrifices necessary 
to overthrow rebellion and preserve the great Republic 
of the world. 

Of Pennsylvania 285 


Fremont's Defeat Brought Strange Political Conditions — He Revolu- 
tionized the Democratic States of New England and the West — 
Mann and Cassidy Lock Horns for the District Attorneyship in 
Philadelphia — The Battle Between Master Politicians — Cassidy 
Returned Elected — Mann Contests the Return in the Courts — 
After a Protracted Trial They Agree to Pool Their Issues and Have 
Two District Attorneys — They Go to Harrisburg and the Special 
Bill is Passed and Approved by Governor Pollock — Judge Thomp- 
son, Who Was Trying the Contested Election Case, Refused to 
Discontinue It, and After Trial Decided in Favor of Mann and 
Refused to Appoint Cassidy as the Additional District Attorney — 
Cassidy and Mann as Great Party Leaders. 

JOHN C. FREMONT btirst upon the political 
horizon in 1856 like a dazzlingly brilliant 
meteor. The campaign made for him was one 
of the most earnest in effort and surprising in results 
in the history of American politics. It permanently 
revolutionized the Democratic States of "New Eng- 
land and most of the Democratic States of the 
West, and such an achievement tmder all ordinary 
circumstances would have made its leader the one 
man to continue in command of the battle until the 
new Republican party won its control of the nation. 
Strange as it may seem, while the Republican party 
emerged from the defeat of 1856 with very general 
and steadily-growing confidence as to its ab2ity to 
win in i860, the name of Fremont was rarely spoken 
of as the Republican candidate for the next campaign. 
He was probably the strongest man that could have 
been nominated as the Republican candidate in 1856, 
as the new organization was composed of a mass of 

286 Old Time Notes 

independent free thinkers in politics, anything but 
homogeneous in all their political aims and convictions, 
and as Fremont was practically without a political 
record, and with a romantic career as an adventurer, 
he could be accepted by all the varied and conflicting 
elements which united in his support. 

I supported him against Buchanan, for whom I 
cherished the highest personal regard, and whose 
statesmanship commanded the respect of friend and 
foe, solely because of the aggressive pro-slavery plat- 
form on which Buchanan stood in the contest, but 
I now regard it as fortunate for the country that 
Fremont was not successful. I met him but once 
during the campaign when, with some half dozen of 
his supporters in New York, I called upon him by 
appointment at his home. He impressed me more 
favorably than I expected, but I did not then know 
that he was under the most positive orders from such 
leaders as the elder Francis P. Blair andThurlow 
Weed, who had nominated him, not to make any 
public utterance on politics either orally or by letter 
during the campaign. He was courteous, dignified 
and severely discreet, and all his visitors left him 
with very favorable impressions as to his personal 

I knew him much better later in life, not only during 
the war, but I met him often after the war when he 
was engaged in his various speculative bubbles which 
finally led to his criminal conviction in Paris when 
he was not present at court nor even in France. 
Through the wise legal services of ex-Attorney Gen- 
eral Black he was rescued from the extraordinary 
French conviction, but he died without ever having 
achieved substantial success either as a military com- 
mander or a promoter. 

A runaway marriage made Jessie Benton, daughter 

Of Pennsylvania 287 

of Senator Benton, of Missouri, his wife, and she was 
a woman of great intellectual force and imtisual 
accomplishments. She survived him many years, 
and I last saw her when in Los Angeles several years 
ago, and only a year before her death. She was in 
feeble health, unable to rise from her chair, but her 
face seemed to brighten when I informed her that I 
had called to pay my respects as one who had earnestly 
supported her husband for President. Her means 
were very limited, but kind friends saw that her home 
had every needed comfort. 

Had Fremont been elected President in 1856 the 
secession tidal wave would have been quite as sudden 
and powerful as it was after the election of Lincoln, 
and very likely there would have been less restraint 
upon the South. Lincoln's few utterences after his 
election all tended to tranquilize the South, and no 
word ever escaped from him that could quicken 
sectional passion. He was always conservative and 
finally saved the Republic by patiently waiting in 
fretftil silence tmtil the Confederacy committed the 
suicidal act of firing upon the starving garrison of 
Sumter. There is little doubt that Fremont, if he 
had been elected President, would have met secession 
with aggressive and defiant utterances, and it is 
doubtfid whether he would have been restrained after 
his election as he was during the campaign. 

The reason for this belief is found in his record after 
the war began. He was abroad when Simiter was 
fired upon, but he was suddenly recalled and com- 
missioned as a major general of the regtilar army. 
The yotmger Francis P. Blair had been elected to 
Congress from St. Louis, the first Republican ever 
elected from a Southern State, and as Missouri was 
one of the most disturbed of the border States, Con- 
gressman Blair insisted that General Fremont should 

288 Old Time Notes 

be assigned to the command of Missouri, believing 
that he and the General cotild very heartily co-operate, 
and that Fremont would welcome his cotmsels; but 
as soon as he was safely installed in his new command, 
Fremont asstmied autocratic authority, discarded the 
cotmsels of his best friends, proclaimed the emanci- 
pation of slaves in Missouri without even consulting 
the President, and generally became so impracticable 
and unmanageable that Congressman Blair was com- 
pelled to demand his removal. 

Lincoln felt great delicacy in striking down at the 
beginning of the war the man who had led the Repub- 
lican party in its first great battle, and he sent Gen- 
eral Cameron, then Secretary of War, to Missouri to 
make a personal investigation of the situation, and 
on Cameron's report General Fremont was relieved 
of his command. He was very importimate for active 
military service, and in 1862 Lincoln assigned him to 
the command covering the valley and motmtains of 
Virginia, but he was compelled to make a separate 
department for him, as Fremont would not serve tmder 
McDowell or Pope, who were his jtmiors. The only 
result of that campaign was Fremont's defeat by 
Jackson, when three armies were converging upon 
him. With wonderful celerity of movement and equal 
celerity of battle, Jackson struck the three commands 
in detail including Fremont, defeated all of them and 
came out with a great victory, when he should have 
been not only defeated but captured. 

That was the end of Fremont's military career, 
and his military and business record sadly eclipsed 
his brilliant achievement as a Presidential candidate 
in 1856. Lincoln well understood that a large major- 
ity of the North, embracing all of the Democrats and 
many Republicans, would not sustain him in precipi- 
tating fraternal war. Fremont would not have taken 


Of Pennsylvania 289 

pause as Lincoln did, but would doubtless have pre- 
cipitated war when the North was entirely unprepared 
to support it. The suicidal act of war committed by 
the Confederacy in firing upon Sumter would in all 
probability have been performed in some way by 
Fremont, and it is impossible to calculate the terrible 
and far-reaching evils which would have resulted in 
a conflict thus forced upon the South. 

The Presidential campaign of 1856 left all of the 
three leading parties in the contest clouded with 
uncertainty. Although the Democrats were success- 
ful in the election of the President and Congress, they 
were largely in the minority of the popular vote, and 
saw no prospect of maintaining Democratic supremacy 
save by recovering a nimiber of the Democratic States 
which had taken their position in the Republican 

The Know Nothings, then known as Americans, 
were given an important veneering of respectability 
by Fillmore, their candidate for President, who com- 
manded the solid opposition vote of the South, and 
carried the electoral vote of the State of Maryland. 
Their leaders, especially in the North, were largely 
composed of political adventurers. They were widely 
estranged from the Republicans; they felt that they 
held the balance of power, and they were autocratic in 
their demands, while the Republicans, confident that 
they could win tmder their own banner in the near 
future, felt no inclination to conciliate the arrogant 
leadership of the Americans. 

Fillmore and his immediate surrotmdings knew 
how utterly hopeless his canvass was, and they were 
much more embittered against the Republicans than 
against Buchanan, although for the sake of local 
advantages they had fused with the Republicans in 
Pennsylvania, but fusion failed of success, and with 


290 Old Time Notes 

the Pennsylvania Americans exhibiting entire lack of 
sympathy with the Republicans, it soon became 
evident in this State that the only way to attain 
Republican success was to cut loose from the Know 
Nothings, unfurl a distinctive Repubhcan flag, and 
accept defeat simply to show the poverty of Ejiow 
Nothing power. 

In Philadelphia the Know Nothings as a body 
co-operated with the Republicans in local affairs, 
although many of the Know Nothing leaders were 
very reluctant in the movement, and some openly 
opposed the combination. It was this combination in 
Philadelphia that brought out a most interesting 
political espiode as an aftermath of the Presidenti^ 
battle of 1856, in which two men were brought promi- 
nently before the State for twenty-five years there- 
after, and were very important factors in their 
respective parties. These men were William B. 
Mann and Lewis C. Cassidy. 

Mann had been assistant district attorney under 
William B. Reed for some years, and when Reed left 
the party and joined the Buchanan forces in 1856, 
Mann was the logical candidate to succeed him. He 
was nominated by the combined opposition, embrac- 
ing the Whigs, Republicans and Know Nothings, and 
Cassidy was nominated as his competitor. 

They were then comparatively young men, and 
each confessedly stood as the best equipped leader of 
his party. They were both eminent in their profession, 
thoroughly trained in local politics, and tireless in 
their political efforts. It is needless to say that two 
such men, both on the stmny side of middle life, 
both adroit and accomplished campaign orators, 
and both familiar with the minutest details of all 
political methods known in city politics, would make 
a rattling campaign, and even eclipse the Presi- 

Of Pennsylvania 291 

dential contest in Philadelphia, and it is fair to 
assume that no known method of political advance- 
ment was left unemployed by either to win victory. 
The Democrats had control of the city, and although 
the Know Nothing organization had taken from the 
Democracy a large percentage of its men trained in 
the pollution of the ballot, the opporttmity for fraud 
was largely on the side of the Democrats. Cassidy 
was returned as elected and Mann contested on the 
grotmd of fraud. 

The case was tried before Judge Oswald Thompson, 
a man unusually equipped in all the best qualities of a 
judge, and inflexibly honest in all his judicial actions. 
A contested election covering a great city was a huge 
tmdertaking and the contest dragged along for weeks 
and weeks with Mann and Cassidy daily struggling 
for the advantage. Both finally became discouraged, 
as neither could see the end of the conflict. They 
were men trained in the same political methods, and 
it was not tmnatural therefore that when they grew 
disgusted and weary of the daily contests they should 
come together and decide to pool their issues. They 
formed a compact that they should both go before 
the Legislature at Harrisburg and ask for the enact- 
ment of a special law authorizing two district attor- 
neys to serve in Philadelphia during the present term. 

I was at Harrisburg when they arrived there, and 
was present in Governor Pollock's room when they 
presented their proposition. They both admitted 
that the contest was doubtful and that it would 
require months and the expenditure of many thou- 
sands of dollars to make an exhaustive trial of the 
case. As Cassidy, the incumbent of the office, was 
entirely willing, and as Mann, who was conducting 
the contest, was entirely willing, the Governor and 
the Legislature accepted their views and the bill was 

2g2 Old Time Notes 

promptly passed and approved. They did not doubt 
that when they appeared in court and presented a 
certified copy of the act of the Legislature, and asked 
for a dismissal of the contest and the appointment of 
the additional district attorney by the court as the 
law authorized, Judge Thompson would willingly 
end the case and appoint Mann as the second district 

To their utter surprise and terrible discomfiture 
Judge Thompson reminded the parties that it was 
not their suit at all, and that they had no control over 
it; that certain citizens of Philadelphia had petitioned 
the court, alleging that great frauds had been com- 
mitted in the pollution of the ballot, and it was 
the cause of the public, not of the individual candi- 
dates, and therefore the case must proceed to final 

With a sternly honest judge, and the develop- 
ments already made in the case, Cassidy regarded 
his chances for retaining the office as rather remote, 
and he did not thereafter maintain his side of the case 
with the interest and effort previously exhibited. 
The case was thus hastened to final judgment by 
Cassidy permitting Mann to strengthen his side with- 
out serious rebuttal, believing that Mann would be 
declared elected, and that Cassidy would then be 
appointed as the additional district attorney. 

Judge Thompson gave the case very thorough 
investigation, and, in an opinion that was tmanswer- 
able, declared Mann to be the lawfully elected candi- 
date and he was at once qualified. His first act was 
to move for the appointment of an additional district 
attorney, and suggested that the court should give 
the position to Cassidy, but Judge Thompson again 
astoimded both of them by declaring that he could 
not, consistently with his duty to public justice. 

Of Pennsylvania 293 

appoint a man to a position who had held it fraud- 
ulently and been judicially deposed, whereupon he 
appointed Mr. Loughead, a reputable member of 
the bar who was untrained in the politics of Mann 
and Cassidy. It was a great disappointment to 
both of them, but they were without remedy and had 
to accept the command without complaint. 

This contest brought Mann and Cassidy into closest 
personal relations, and for a quarter of a century 
thereafter Cassidy was the acknowledged leader of 
the Democrats in the city, and Mann the acknowl- 
edged leader of the Republicans, but there never 
was a time when either could aid the other personally 
that it was not done with great fideUty. They would 
lock horns as opposing leaders in general political 
battles, and lead as only two such able, aggressive 
and experienced men could lead, but when either 
needed the help of the other the draft was always 
honored at sight. 

Cassidy left the office of district attorney only to 
be by the side of Mann, the public prosecutor, in the 
defense of nearly every important criminal case, and 
it is an open secret that many criminal cases were 
finally disposed of as Mann and Cassidy mutually 
believed to be best, regardless of their efforts at the 
bar of the court. Both were generous to a fault, and 
accepted heavy exactions in the interest of their 
respective parties, which forbade fortune to either 
and the bond of personal sympathy between them 
lasted throughout their lives. In 1874, when Mann 
was beaten for district attorney by Fiuman Shep- 
herd, it was a defeat that clearly proclaimed the 
dominating power of Mann to be ended, and he was 
made prothonotary of the common pleas courts by 
a single Democratic vote that could have been ob- 
tained only by the friendly efforts of Cassidy. 


294 Old Time Notes 

Mann became practically the district attorney at 
the end of the contest of 1853, as his associate was 
not known as a poUtical leader, and for many years 
thereafter no man ever exercised more absolute power 
in the Republican party in the city than that exercised 
by Mann. He was re-elected in 1859, again in 1862, 
again in 1865, and was renominated in 1868, but a 
bolting convention nominated Isaac Hazlehurst, and 
finally both withdrew to give the field to Charles 
Gibbons, who was defeated by Furman Shepherd. 
In 187 1 Mann was again nominated and elected, and 
in 1874 he was again made the candidate of the 
party, but suffered defeat, practically retiring him as 
a political leader. 

I well remember in i860 when Curtin's friends had 
decided to make him the candidate for Governor, I 
was one of the ntmiber who had several conferences 
with District Attorney Mann. He wanted to be 
entirely satisfied that it was the best nomination that 
could be made, and that he would be regarded as 
heartily in accord with the administration. After 
considering the matter carefully he announced to 
us that Curtin could depend upon a practically solid 
delegation from the city in favor of his nomination. 
It was not necessary to consult any other person. 
What he promised was performed. 

His omnipotence was never questioned until 1868, 
when an organized opposition in the convention 
bolted from his nomination and nominated Isaac 
Hazlehurst, who had been the Know Nothing candidate 
for Governor in 1 8 5 7 . Mann could not tinderstand that 
his defeat was inevitable. The fact that the party was 
split, and that a candidate of the highest character 
within his own household was pitted against him, con- 
vinced his friends that he could not escape defeat, but 
he was de^^f to all appeals for his retirement. 

Of Pennsylvania 295 

He then lived on a large farm in the suburbs, and 
for a month or more he remained at home waiting, 
as he believed, for the tempest to subside. Finally 
it became necessary for the party to take action, and 
after consultation, William H. Kemble and myself 
were assigned the task of making him a visit at his 
home and obtaining his declination. We went out 
in the afternoon, dined with him, and met with a 
very hospitable reception generally, but he at first 
refused to entertain the question of his retirement. 
We were both warmly attached to him, and he had 
entire confidence in the sincerity of our friendship, 
and after persisting in our appeals to him until near 
the midnight hour, he finally yielded. 

I well remember him throwing up his hands and 
saying, **This is to be the end of my political career.'* 
We told him that by yielding at that time he could 
reasonably expect to be re-elected three years there- 
after, as he was, but he had then little hope that he 
had any future political career. I wrote a brief letter 
of declination, putting it entirely upon the ground 
of harmonizing the party, which he copied and signed, 
and we returned with it to the city the following day. 

Although forced from the field, his power over the 
party was well maintained until after his final defeat 
in 1874, and I know of no man who served so many 
and received so little return from them. All who 
knew him could well overlook his faults because of 
common frailty, while they could not but cherish 
grateful memories of the many generous and philan- 
thropic acts of his life. He continued as prothonotary 
of the courts until he had rounded out fourscore years, 
when he passed away with his memory green in the 
hearts of a multitude of friends. 

Cassidy was also the ruler of his party for many 
years, but his rule was much more tempestuous than 

296 Old Time Notes 

that of Mann. His party was almost always rent by 
factional divisions which now and then wotdd unhorse 
him for a time, but his leadership was so great, his 
championship of the party so grand, that none could 
supplant him in his mastery. I have seen him in 
Democratic State conventions when the war of fac- 
tions was so bitter that the pistol and the dagger 
were held convenient for use, but even in the bitterest 
quarrels he was always victor. 

He served one term as attorney general tmder 
Governor Pattison, and he made a record not only 
for legal ability, but for fidelity to his public trust that 
has been equaled by few who have held that high 
position in the State. Unlike Mann, he fell in the 
race before the infirmities of age and the ever-changing 
conditions of politics relegated him from political 
command, and when Lewis C. Cassidy crossed the dark 
river the Democrats of Philadelphia lost the ablest 
champion who ever held their colors in the front of 

Of Pennsylvania 297 


William P. Packer a Strong Candidate of His Party for Governor — David 
Wilmot, an Advanced Republican, Nominated by the Union State 
Convention to Force Lingering Know Nothingism out of Political 
Power — They Nominate Hazlehurst for Governor — The Way 
Cleared for Future Battles against the Democrats — Wilmot 's 
Great Ability as a Campaigner. 

A REACTION that sometimes reaches a general 
revulsion usually follows a severely contested 
National political battle. The defeated party, 
after having strained its resources to the uttermost 
to achieve success, as did the Republicans in 1856, 
retires from defeat with the inclination to rest for a 
season. This condition is common, if not imiversal, 
in this country. The year following the Presidential 
contest is what is called an **off year*' and cannot in 
any material way affect National issues. 

The Republican and American parties, which summed 
up the opposition to the Democrats in 1856, were not 
in accord on National questions as a rule. The National 
leaders of the American organization, including Mr. 
Fillmore himself, were more aggressively hostile to 
the Republicans than they were to the Democrats, 
and while the Republicans polled half a million more 
votes than the Americans, although the vote was 
confined to a single section, the Americans claimed 
that theirs was the only party with a National exist- 
ence and that it must be the ruling party of the opposi- 
tion in order to maintain its organization alike in the 
North and South. 

These two parties had pooled in Pennsylvania in a, 

298 Old Time Notes 

union convention that nominated a State ticket, but 
in no other State was such a union accomplished, and 
the bitterness of the leading Americans in their oppo- 
sition to Republicanism was speedily diffused through- 
out the American leadership in Pennsylvania. The 
Republican leaders were confident that the American 
organization must have, at the most, a very short 
existence and that the future success of the party 
depended upon unfurling the Republican flag and 
standing squarely under it even in the face of temporary 

A Governor, two judges of the supreme court and a 
canal commissioner were to be elected in 1857, and 
there was little reason to hope for the success of the 
Union State ticket, however carefully selected to har- 
monize the party. The Union ticket had been de- 
feated the year before when there was much closer 
sympathy between the two opposition organizations 
than then existed, and the sentiment of the Republi- 
can leaders was very general that while they should 
call a tmion convention which they could not fail 
to largely dominate, and make a fair division of the 
nominations between the two elements, the head of 
the ticket and the platform of the convention should 
emphasize in unmistakable terms the purpose of the 
Republican party to maintain its distinctive organi- 
zation, with the hope of winning control of the nation 
in i860. 

The Democrats made their nominations early in the 
year, and chose William E. Packer for Governor, Judges 
Thompson and Strong for the supreme bench, and 
Mr. Strickland for canal commissioner. Packer was 
a strong candidate, and one of the most sagacious 
politicians of the State. He was brought into promi- 
nence when quite a young man by the favor of Gover- 
nor Porter, who appointed him auditor general, where 

Of Pennsylvania 299 

he proved to be not only a very efficient officer, but 
developed into an important political leader. He was 
trained in the best political school of those days by his 
experience as the editor of the Democratic organ of 
Lycoming Coimty, and a few years after his retirement 
from the auditor general's office he was nominated 
for the Legislature in the district embracing Lycoming, 
Clinton and Potter coimties, and defeated by twelve 

His successful competitor served without contest 
during the entire session, but during the next summer 
Packer was making a tour of the district, and he was 
led to examine the official returns in Clinton County, 
when he discovered that his competitor had been re- 
turned elected by a mistake in addition, and that he 
had really been the successful candidate by a larger 
majority than that conceded to his opponent. There 
was no dispute as to the fact, for the error was visible 
on the official record. He published an address to the 
people showing the error, and was re-elected that year 
by a decided majority. 

He was a man of unusually fine address, delightfully 
genial in social intercourse, and was thoroughly up in 
politics and parliamentary practice. He was made 
speaker of the house, and I well remember that it 
was conceded, alike by political friends and foes, that 
no better equipped presiding officer ever filled the 
speaker's chair. 

While Packer was not classed as lacking in devotion 
to President Buchanan, who had just entered upon his 
high official trust, he was not the man that Buchanan 
would have chosen. He was the favorite candidate of 
Colonel Forney, who was then gradually severing his 
intimate relations with the President, and as the cam- 
paign progressed, and the Kansas-Nebraska issue 
became vital by President Buchanan indorsing the 

300 Old Time Notes 

LeCompton constitution, Packer was significantly 
silent on that particular question, and confined himseft 
to the general advocacy of Democratic principles. 

I was a delegate to the Union convention that was 
called to nominate the opposition ticket, and was in 
harmony with an overwhelming majority of the dele- 
gates in the opinion that it was necessary to emphasize 
the dominating purpose of the Republicans. The only 
question considered in the various conferences on the 
subject was how to make the ticket as distinctively 
Republican as possible without slapping the Americans 
squarely in the face. 

We were entirely satisfied that the Americans would 
not give such support to the Union ticket, tmder any 
circumstances, as would give promise of its election, 
but as a large proportion of the followers of the Ameri- 
can organization would certainly prefer Republicanism 
to Democracy, it was decided that the American party 
should have a full share of the nominations, and Mr. 
Millward, of Philadelphia, a pronounced American, was 
made the candidate for canal commissioner, and Mr. 
Veach, of Fayette, another pronounced American, was 
nominated for the supreme bench, along with Joseph 
J. Lewis, of West Chester. 

David Wilmot was then president judge of the 
Bradford and Susquehanna district, and, of course, 
was the most pronounced, as well as confessedly the 
ablest. Republican in the State. He was not only 
positive and aggressive in every phase of hostility to 
slavery, but he had acquired National reputation as an 
anti-slavery leader by the Wilmot proviso when he 
was in Congress. He was not an anxious candidate 
for the nomination for Governor, as he knew that his 
election was quite improbable, if not impossible; but 
he was very desirous to have the Republican standard 
boldly unftirled in the State, and he was willing to 

Of Pennsylvania 301 

accept the position of standard-bearer. The nomi- 
nation of Wilmot was a heroic conception, for he was not 
in fiill sympathy with a large proportion of both the 
organizations opposed to Democracy on the question 
of protection, as he was the only Pennsylvania Con- 
gressman who voted for the tariff of 1846 when that 
measure was enacted by Congress. 

Wilmot was thus the weakest candidate who could 
have been chosen against the Democracy on the ques- 
tion of protection that had been accepted by the Whigs 
as the paramoimt issue, but his nomination would give 
no tmcertain note in the contest as to the attitude the 
opposition to Democracy occupied on the slavery ques- 
tion, and it was notice to the American element that 
those who were not willing to accept the Republican 
faith on the question of slavery should sever their 
fellowship from the opposition combination. 

Looking to the immediate result of that campaign, 
the nomination of Wilmot would have been regarded 
as a suicidal bltmder, but the men who made it imder- 
stood fully that they accepted defeat to establish the 
absolute mastery of Republican sentiment in opposi- 
tion to the Democracy. Judge Wilmot was in no sense 
deceived. He understood thoroughly that he was to 
accept a battle to fallow the ground for future harvests, 
and he resigned his judgeship, that was filled by Gover- 
nor Pollock appointing a close friend of Wilmot, who 
proposed to resign and restore the judgeship to Wilmot 
immediately after his defeat for Govenor, all of which 
was done. 

While there was no formal bolt from the convention 
of the American leaders, they saw that they were in 
what was a distinctively Republican convention that 
had given them a sop in the shape of two nominations, 
and they well tmderstood what the movement meant. 
It was a deUberately and carefully planned method by 

302 Old Time Notes 

the Republicans to take from the Americans two- 
thirds or three -fotirths of their followers, and leave the 
Americans with little more than the nmning gear of a 
State organization. They nominated a full State 
ticket, with Isaac Hazlehurst, of Philadelphia, a gen- 
tleman of high character and ability, who had been 
elected city solicitor in the Know Nothing uprising of 
1854, as their candidate for Governor, and Mr. Linder- 
man for canal commissioner, and Mr. Brown and Mr. 
Brady for the supreme court, thereby rejecting Mill- 
ward and Veach, the Americans, who had been nomi- 
nated by the Union convention. 

Mr. Hazlehurst accepted, but did not make an ag- 
gressive campaign as he knew how utterly hopeless 
his cause had been made by the pronounced Republi- 
can action of the Union State convention. Packer 
made occasional speeches, but devoted himself chiefly to 
the methodical management of the campaign, as he 
well understood the necessity of organization to assure 
success. He was a very capable speaker, and coulc 
make a very agreeable impression upon an audience, 
but it was an off year with no tidal wave of political 
excitement, and he felt that the best way to win was 
by systematic organization to bring out the Demo- 
cratic vote. He was a gentleman of blameless repu- 
tation, whose public record challenged criticism, and 
the campaign was entirely free from scandal or bitter- 
ness, except in the northern section of the State, where 
Judge Wilmot resided. The old school Democrats were 
intensely inflamed against him as he had revolutionized 
the strong Democratic counties of his district — Brad- 
ford, Tioga and Susquehanna— and made them over- 
whelmingly Republican, and they assailed him tm- 
scrupulously, both on his political and his judicial 
records, but that feature of the campaign was not 
visible in any other section of the State. 

Of Pennsylvania 303 

Both the leading candidates for Governor were men 
of admitted ability and character, and, outside of the 
local prejudice against Wilmot, the campaign was one 
of the most dignified in the history of the State. 
Wilmot having resigned his judicial office, started 
out for a campaign covering every section of the State, 
and his meetings were attended by unusually large 
numbers. There was none of the hurrah and display 
exhibited in tidal waves of political excitement, but 
his high character and pre-eminent abiUty called out 
the more intelligent and sober classes in every section 
of the State, and his speeches were among the ablest 
ever deUvered on the sttmip in Pennsylvania contests. 
He was a sober, profound and impressive speaker 
before an appreciative audience, but he possessed 
none of the arts by which campaigners on the hustings 
often invest their argimients with popular interest, 
and in the then transition condition of a large portion 
of old line Whigs and Americans, he accomplished vast 
good in bringing them to the support of the Republi- 
can faith. It was in fact a missionary campaign, a 
campaign of education, and outside of Philadelphia he 
certainly accomplished much for his cause wherever he 
was heard. 

Philadelphia was naturally averse to Wilmot. It 
was the center of the pro-slavery American leaders 
and the old Whig line, long trained to criticise Wilmot 
for his opposition to the policy of protection, and with 
the commercial interests of the city that had a pre- 
ponderance of Southern trade, he fotind little inspira- 
tion for missionary work in the City of Brotherly Love, 
but he fought his battle bravely from start to finish, 
and was not disappointed in the result. The defeat 
he received was just what he expected, and it was his 
battle, although confessedly hopeless, that prepared 
Peimsylvania for the political revolution that came 

304 Old Time Notes 

the following year, resulting in making Pennsylvania 
one of the reliable Republican States of the Union. 
The full vote of the State was 188,887 for Packer, 
146,136 for Wilmot and 28,132 for Hazlehurst, giving 
Packer 42,751 over Wilmot and 14,619 majority over 

The American vote fell from 82,202 for Fillmore in 
1856 to 28,132 for Hazlehurst in 1857, while Wilmot 
in the light vote of an off year polled within a little more 
than 1,000 of the vote received by Fremont. Many 
of the more pronoimced pro -slavery Americans voted 
the Democratic ticket, and in all the old Whig and later 
Republican counties where the Americans possessed 
material strength, they gave local success to the Demo- 
cratic party. Such now strong Republican counties 
as Armstrong, Blair, Chester, Dauphin, Franklin, 
Huntingdon, Philadelphia, Snyder, Venango and Wash- 
ington, all gave Packer a majority over Wilmot. 

The weakness of the Republican cause in Philadel- 
phia at that time may be imderstood when it is known 
that Packer received in the city 27,749 votes, Hazle- 
hurst 14,335 a^d Wilmot 10,001; the Republican 
candidate not receiving one-fourth the entire vote cast 
in the city. Both branches of the Legislature were 
also carried by the Democrats. In the popular branch 
the Republicans had but thirty members, or less than 
one-third the entire body. 

This battle accomplished all that the Republican 
leaders had hoped for. It practically eliminated the 
American organization as a political factor in the 
State, beyond the hope of occasionally holding the 
balance of power. More than one-half its entire vote 
had been cast in the city of Philadelphia, and it was 
left without a future as a distinctive political organi- 
zation in either State or nation. It suffered a like 
defeat in New York, where the American vote in 1857 


Of Pennsylvania 305 

was reduced nearly one-half, but the general political 
reaction was more distinctively felt in New York than 
in any other of the States, as the Democrats elected 
their State ticket in 1857 by over 18,000 in the same 
triangular fight that had been made for President, in 
which they had given Fremont over 80,000 pluraltiy. 

The Democratic States which had been revolution- 
ized by the Republican party in 1856, such as Maine 
and New Hampshire in New England, and Michigan, 
Minnesota and other States of the West, maintained 
their Republican supremacy by reduced majorities. 
Chase was re-elected Gk>vemor of Ohio by nearly 1,400, 
but throughout the entire North the Republicans were 
shaping their aims for the congressional battle of 1858 
and for the National contest of i860, and that they 
adopted a wise policy was clearly demonstrated by the 
sweeping revolution of 1858, when the administration 
Democrats elected but three Congressmen in Penn- 
sylvania and the entire new Congress stood Republi- 
cans 113, Administration Democrats 93, Anti-Le- 
Compton Democrats 8 and Americans (all from the 
South) 23. 

Before the campaign of 1857 had closed, the Buch- 
anan administration had clearly shown its hand in 
support of the pro-slavery policy that aimed to make 
Kansas and Nebraska slave States by violent effort, 
and the Republicans were thus strengthened in the 
faith that they had victories assured for them in the 
future, and in nd State was this policy so distinctly 
proclaimed, and so greatly aided, as by the Repub- 
licans of Pennsylvania, who nominated Wilmot for 
Governor in the face of inexorable defeat, solely for 
the purpose of planting the honest opposition to the 
Democracy in line for future contests. Wilmot 's 
efforts and his sacrifice in the contest were highly 
appreciated, as was shown by his election to the Senate 


3o6 Old Time Notes 

to fill the vacancy occasioned by Cameron going into 
the cabinet, and also by his subsequent appointment 
as judge in the Court of Claims, a position he filled 
until his death. 

He was a man of rugged integrity, of great ability, 
without that keen intuitive perception that is necessary 
to a ready disputant, but he was a careful student, and 
was a most formidable antagonist when he was ftdly 
prepared for the battle. The devotion of his people 
in the northern tier of counties was imexampled. They 
had uaibounded faith in his judgment and in his fidelity, 
and when he severed himself from the Democratic 
party he made a political revolution in his district, 
composed of Tioga, Bradford and Susquehanna, of 
fully 10,000 against the Democratic party. He was 
one of the kindest and most amiable of men in the 
ordinary intercourse of life, but when aroused in support 
of his convictions he was a most able and heroic an- 

His health failed when he was serving as a judge of 
the Court of Claims, and after struggling with disease 
for many months, he finally went home to enter the dark 
valley that leads to the unknown beyond. In the 
village graveyard hard by the town of his old home in 
Towanda a modest marble headstone marks his final 
resting place, on the inner face of which are his name 
and date of birth and death, and on the outer face, that 
can be seen from the road passing by, is the simple text 
of the Wilmot proviso. 

Of Pennsylvania 307 


How the Author, after Retiring from PoKtics Disgusted with Dominating 
Know Nothingism, was made a Legislative Candidate — His 
Positive Purpose to Decline the Nomination — Prevented by the 
Boisterous Opposition of Know Nothingism to His Election — 
Nominated to Elect a Local Ticket — He was the only Man Success- 
ful with a Strongly Adverse County added to the District — Inter- 
esting Experience in a House Two-thirds Democratic and a Demo- 
cratic Senate and Governor — ^The Sale of the State Canals. 

IN the contest of 1857 I was most tinexpectedly, 
and equally tinwillingly, made a candidate for 
the house of representatives, and while, of course, 
personally gratified, I shared the very general surprise 
over my election, and had the tmusual experience of 
being elected three times to the house and twice to 
the senate without ever having been a voltmtary or 
even a willing candidate. 

I became so utterly disgusted with the methods and 
general demoralization of Know Nothing tactics that I 
openly opposed their ticket in 1855, even to the extent 
of taking the stump in support of the Democratic ticket, 
which was elected by a large majority; and I decided, 
as I then supposed for all time, to abandon journalism 
and politics and devote myself to the law. I sold my 
newspaper property because most of my patrons 
were Know Nothings, and having previously studied 
for the bar I was at once admitted and gained a promis- 
ing position in the profession by my association with 
Mr. McLellan, one of the well-established practitioners 
of the time. 

While I meant to discard politics, as a rule I could 

3o8 Old Time Notes 

not resist active opposition to the pro-slavery plat- 
form adopted by the Democrats of Cincinnati in 1856, 
and I joined in a perftmctory way in a call for a Union 
convention to nominate local candidates, but took 
little or no interest in local affairs. A coimty ticket 
was nominated composed almost entirely of Know 
Nothings, but it was defeated with the exception of 
one candidate for associate judge, who had an equal 
vote with his Democratic competitor. 

In 1857 I felt no interest in the political situation 
until it was decided by leading Republicans in dif- 
ferent sections of the State to call a Union convention 
and shape it distinctly to Republican ends and aims. 
I attended the convention as a delegate solely to 
eliminate the American element as much as possible 
from the opposition and aid in strengthening the 
Republican party for future contests. A IJnion 
cotmty convention was called, and it happened that 
nearly or quite , all the lucrative cotmty offices were to 
be filled that year, and there were a number of can- 
didates for the different positions, all of whom were 
more or less prominent Know Nothings. The old 
line Whigs, like myself, were disgusted with the Know 
Nothings, and although they nimibered nearly 1,000 
in the county, or one-fourth the opposition vote, 
they did not present a single candidate, and the Know 
Nothings dominated the local convention in about 
the same manner that the Republicans dominated 
the Union State convention. 

A new legislative apportionment had added Fulton 
Cotmty to Franklin, giving the two cotmties two 
members, the same ntmiber that Franklin alone had 
been given for many years. Ftilton had nearly 400 
Democratic majority on a full vote, and could be 
depended on for that majority from year to year, 
unless election day happened to be an exceptionally 

Of Pennsylvania 309 

good day for harvesting the buckwheat crop. Franklin 
County had given Buchanan 1,000 plurality over 
Fremont, but the combined Fremont and Fillmore 
vote presented a very small majority against Buchanan. 
It was regarded as possible for the Union party, if well 
organized, to elect the coimty ticket by a very narrow 
margin, but the legislative district was accepted as 
utterly hopeless, as Fulton's Democratic majority 
had to be overcome. 

When the Union Couaity convention met it was 
simply a gathering of Know Nothings, with here 
and there an old line Whig with Know Nothing affi- 
nities. The leaders saw that they had no hope of 
electing their candidates unless they could command 
the old line Whig vote, but they did not offer any of 
the half dozen important offices to the Whigs, nor 
could they find any candidates for any one of the 
different positions willing to concede a place to an 
old line Whig for the purpose of securing the Whig vote 
for the combination. They had, therefore, nothing 
to offer the Whigs but the nomination for the Legis- 
lature, with inevitable defeat. The committee waited 
upon me before the convention met, and urged me to 
accept it to aid in electing the local ticket. It was 
simply an offer for me to bum my fingers in defeat 
while pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for the 
election of the Know Nothing candidates. If there 
had been every promise of election, I would have 
peremptorily refused, as my piupose was settled, as I 
then supposed, not to enter politics with any idea of 
political promotion, but the particular feast to which 
I was asked was so uninviting that it required some 
effort to give a respectful declination. 

The committee then called upon William L. Cham- 
bers, one of the leading citizens of Chambersburg, and 
well known as an old line Whig, but he would not 

31 o Old Time Notes 

entertain the proposition, and they were unable to find 
a candidate for the Legislature before the meeting 
of the convention. The convention met, spent the 
most of the day in wrangling over the half dozen or 
more lucrative offices to be filled, and finally completed 
a coimty ticket made up entirely of Know Nothings. 
My name was then presented to the convention for 
the Legislature, in the face of my positive declination, 
and I was nominated. My office was close to the 
courthouse, where the convention met, and I was 
immediately advised of the nomination, and at once 
started to the convention to repeat my peremptory 
declination, but when I reached the door the con- 
vention had just adjourned, and I notified the leaders 
that I would wait for the legislative conference of the 
two coimties, when I would send a positive refusal 
to accept. 

I was the only Whig out of some seven or eight on 
the ticket, and was ostentatiously assigned the duty 
of making the battle for the success of the Know 
Nothing ticket by bringing the old line Whigs into its 
support, and receive as my reward inevitable defeat 
for the house. 

My pronotmced and aggressive opposition to the 
Know Nothing ticket two years before was keenly 
remembered by the supporters of that organization, 
and immediately after the nominations were made, the 
Know Nothing lodges of the leading towns, including 
such important centers of population as Greencastle, 
Waynesboro, Mercersburg, etc., were suddenly simi- 
moned and passed resolutions repudiating my nomi- 
nation and declaring their purpose not to support 
me. This gave me no concern, as my purpose to de- 
cline was fixed, and the only importance to be attached 
to this action was its effect upon the old line Whigs 
of the county, who would be certain to repudiate 

Of Pennsylvania 311 

the Know Nothing ticket and defeat it by a large 

As this agitation was doing me no harm from my 
own standpoint, and promised only to asstire the 
defeat of the whole Know Nothing ticket, I had little 
or no regrets and looked on with perfect composure 
and silence. This agitation was kept up for some 
weeks during which I said nothing, except that I was 
not a candidate, but I soon received evidence from 
the Democratic leaders of nearly every section of the 
coimty that they were ready to resent this action of 
the Know Nothings because of my having supported 
the Democratic ticket against them two years before, 
and many of them urged me to stand as a candidate, 
assuring me that they would support me, along with 
Judge Nill, who was the Democratic candidate from 
the same coimty, and elect both the members from 

With the revolutionary attitude of the Know 
Nothings, there was little prospect of my election 
even with a very large Democratic support, and as I 
was particularly anxious not to go to the Legislature 
at all, I gave the matter no thought. Finally the 
Know Nothings called a conference of leading men 
from different sections of the coimty, and decided to 
appoint a committee to wait upon me and ask me to 
decline, as I could not escape defeat by an over- 
whelming majority. The committee appointed were 
all personal friends who would gladly have supported 
me, the chairman being Congressman Robinson, and 
they called on me in entire good faith, believing that 
they were advising me to escape fearful political 

As I knew they were personally friendly, and as 
they made their proposition with perfect respect, I 
heard them patiently until they had made their 

312 Old Time Notes 

proposition and given their reasons for my acceptance 
of it. I then thought that I had stood about enough 
of the crinkly, crazy poHtics of the Know Nothings, 
and I said to the committee that I had watched tiie 
proceedings of the Know Nothings with considerable 
interest, not because I desiied an election to the Legis- 
lature, but simply to get the true pohtical bearing of 
the coimty ; that they had nominated an entire Know 
Nothing ticket to fill all the lucrative offices, and that 
I had been tagged on to the tail end of the ticket to 
face a Democratic majority of 400, with the hope 
that I would bring the 800 or 1,000 old line Whigs 
to the support of the local ticket to elect it while I 
suffered defeat; that I had considered the subject 
very fully; that I was satisfied the Know Nothings 
would not support me, which made me equally satis- 
fied that the old line Whigs would not support the 
Know Nothing ticket, and as they had evidently 
decided on a campaign of suicide, I would accept 
the nomination, make my own battle, and as I was 
certain to be defeated, it mattered very little whether 
I was defeated by 500 or 1,500 majority. 

They attempted to expostulate, but I said that 
my decision was final; that I would not decline, and 
it was nothing to me whether any of the Know Noth- 
ings voted for me or not. I made this decision, fully 
believing that I would be defeated by at least i ,000 
majority, but as it would wipe out the last vestige 
of Know Nothing power in the coimty, I was willing 
to accept it. 

To my surprise, my defiant annotmcement of my 
refusal to decline in obedience to the violent protests 
of the Know Nothings did not inflame them to increased 
hostility, as I expected, but they were speedily quieted 
down by their own candidates and leaders, who 
simply said to them: "If you oppose McClure the 

of Pennsylvania 313 

old line Whigs will defeat us/* and the leaders and 
candidates went into a methodical campaign to bring 
the entire Know Nothing forces into my support. 
I made no advances to them, and told them that 
they need make none to me. I would support the ticket, 
but I would fight my own battle in my own way. 

The nominations had not been made imtil after 
midsummer, and on the ist of September I announced 
a series of meetings, taking in every district in the 
coimty, and continuing imtil the October election. 
They were nominally called by the chairman of the 
Union committee, but they were my own meetings, 
entirely controlled by myself, and at each of them I 
urged the election of Wilmot for Governor, and of 
course supported the entire Union ticket. 

The meetings were largely attended, as it was a 
new departure in the politics of the county for a candi- 
date to make such a campaign. I not only addressed 
the meetings, but spent a day in each district in 
ascertaining the exact political situation. Neither 
the Unionists nor the Democrats liked the association 
with Fulton for the Legislature, and I foxmd Demo- 
crats adhering to the promises made at the outset to 
support me along with Nill, the local Democrat. Nill 
was an able and aggressive leader and took the stump 
in active opposition to me and gave no encourage- 
ment to the Democrats voting for me along with him. 

My canvass was so thorough that I knew either in 
person or by reUable information the attitude of 
every voter in each district, and by the time the cam- 
paign closed with the Know Nothings apparently 
giving me a general support, I finally concluded with 
mingled gratification and regret that I had a chance 
to be elected. The result was that I was the only 
man on the entire Union ticket who was successful. 
The local candidates were all defeated in the county, 

314 Old Time Notes 

while I carried it by a sufficient majority to overcome 
the Democratic preponderance in Fulton and give 
me over 200 majority in the district. I appreciate 
the fact that these details of a legislative contest 
would not be of general interest to the public, but 
they are presented simply to show political morals 
and methods of Know Nothing organization. 

The most important Democratic support given me 
was by Daniel and Hugh Logan, of Quincy Town- 
ship, a moimtain region bordering on Maryland, that 
gave 140 majority for the Democratic candidate for 
Governor and gave me 66 majority for the house. 
I had defended them in a charge of kidnapping and 
accomplished their release. The South Moimtain was 
the first resort for fugitive slaves after they crossed 
the Maryland line, and Dan Logan was the best natural 
detective I have ever known. He captured and re- 
turned many fugitive slaves, and as he was always 
on the lookout for them and knew their hiding places 
in the mountain, it is not at all certain that he did 
not at times return free negroes instead of fugitives. 
He was a man of rugged fidelity, and without exacting 
any conditions assured me that he would carry his 
township and also control votes in two adjoining 
townships. He was the man who captured Captain 
Cook, of John Brown's army, and perhaps the only 
man in Franklin County who would have ventured 
to capture him. 

His brother Hugh, who joined the Confederacy 
immediately after the firing on Sumter, guided Stuart's 
raid into our couaity in 1862, and he touched me on 
the shoulder after Stuart's force had arrived in town 
and informed me that I was on the list to be taken 
as a prisoner to Libby along with a ntmiber of others, 
seven of whom were taken South and one died in 
prison. His advice was that if they attempted to take 

of Pennsylvania 315 

me along, to go qtiietly, and he would put me out of 
the lines the next night, which he would have done 
at the risk of his life. 

Later in the war he was condemned by General 
Kelly as a bushwhacker. He made his appeal to Kelly, 
referring to me as knowing that he was an officer in 
the Confederacy. Kelly referred the case to me, and 
the result was the discharge of Logan. 

The result of the local election astoimded the Know 
Nothing leaders even more than it did me. None of 
them had any knowledge of the Democratic vote I 
expected to receive, and my defeat was regarded by 
all of them as inevitable, while they expected my 
campaign to call out the entire old line Whig vote 
and save the local candidates. The old line Whig 
vote did come out and voted for me, but a consider- 
able percentage of them did not vote for the local 
candidates, and in like manner the entire Know 
Nothing vote was polled, and probably quite as large 
a percentage of it voted against me. 

Contrary to all my, as I supposed, settled purposes 
for an exclusively professional pursuit, I foimd myself 
elected to the Legislature and the only Republican 
in the entire house south of the Susquehanna and 
east of the Alleghenies. Of the 100 members of the 
house only thirty of us were Republicans, less than 
one- third. Philadelphia County sent seventeen Demo- 
crats, elected on a joint ticket headed by the late 
General Joshua Owen. Dauphin had one Democratic 
member, as had Union, Snyder, Himtingdon and Blair. 
Chester sent three Democratic members to the house, 
with one from Delaware, and ex- Justice Bell, of the 
supreme court, a pronotmced Democrat, was elected 
to the senate in the district, while Allegheny and Erie 
had divided their delegation. 

With a Democratic Governor elected by 42,000, 

3i6 Old Time Notes 

with a Democratic senate and an overwhelming 
Democratic hotise, I saw Uttle promise of achieving 
anything of importance in the Legislattire, and I 
publicly annoimced that tmder no circumstances 
would I be a candidate for a second term. I could 
get away from legislative service to attend to the law 
part of every week, but I was resolute in the purpose 
that one session should end my legislative career, 
as I had every incentive to devote myself to my pro- 

The Legislature was an imusually able one. In 
the senate were such Democratic leaders as Judge 
Wilkins and Dr. McClintock, of Allegheny; Buckalew, 
of Columbia, and Randall, of Philadelphia, who had 
been chosen to fill an tmexpired term; and among 
the Republican leaders were men of such eminent 
ability as Finney, of Crawford; Schofield, of Warren, 
and Coffee, of Indiana. In the house the Demo- 
crats had an unusual galaxy of able leaders, such as 
Judge Nill, of Franklin; Calhoim, of Armstrong; 
Goepp, of Northampton; Richmond L. Jones, of 
Reading; Christy, of Blair, and others. 

It was the first time that the Democrats had obtained 
complete control of the Governor and Legislature 
since 1854, and both branches were intensely Demo- 
cratic, cherishing the strongest prejudice against 
banks and everything looking to corporation progress. 
I expected the session to be practically a waste of so 
much time, as I saw little prospect of accomplishing 
anything that I desired in the way of legislative 
advancement; but I was agreeably disappointed in 
several important achievements, including the sale 
of the State canals, which were very forttmately and 
advantageously practically loaned to the Philadelphia 
& Erie Railroad, to enable it to complete its through 
line from Willianv^port to Erie. 

Of Pennsylvania 


I had been fighting the canal board from my earliest 
advent in politics as a boy editor in the Jimiata Valley, 
as I saw the reckless profligacy that was exhibited 
in the management of the board, and the one result 
of the session of which I felt extremely proud was a 
bill of three lines that I read in place and passed by 
a imanimous vote, abolishing the canal board after 
the sale of the last of the canals had been completed; 
but the important results of that session and some 
of the interesting episodes connected with it will 
make another and unusually interesting chapter. 

31 8 Old Time Notes 


Governor Packer's Imposing Inauguration — Forney's Address to the Legis- 
lature — How Judge John C. Knox Became Attorney General — 
William A. Porter Appointed to the Supreme Bench — His Defeat 
and Resignation — Battle for the Sale of the State Canals to the 
Erie Railroad — G. Nelson Smith's Parliamentary Tactics — Scheme 
to Abolish Judge Wilmot's District Defeated in the Democratic 
House by Fifteen Republican Members Agreeing to Vote for or 
against Anything to Save Wilmot — How the Present Usury Law 
was Enacted. 

GOVERNOR PACKER was inaugurated in Jan- 
uary, 1858, with imposing ceremonies. The 
Democrats had been out of power in the State 
for three years, although they had part of the time 
controlled the popular branch of the Legislature. 
Pennsylvania was then regarded as next to iron-clad 
as a Democratic State, and the defeat of the party was 
accepted as accidental. It was natural, therefore, that 
in January, 1858, when the Democrats resumed con- 
trol of the Executive department and both branches 
of the Legislature by decisive majorities, they should 
make the occasion memorable 

Packer's inaugural address was an able and carefully- 
prepared paper. The Kansas-Nebraska troubles had 
grown more and more serious during the year just past, 
and great anxiety was felt as to the attitude the new 
Democratic Governor would assume on National ques- 
tions, as it was generally believed he was not in entire 
accord with President Buchanan and his policy relating 
to slavery. The inaugural referred to National issues 
in a cautious and rather diplomatic manner, but when 

of Pennsylvania 319 

read between the lines it was universally accepted as 
not in accord with the National administration. There 
was nothing in the address indicating his approval of 
the Kansas-Nebraska policy of Buchanan, while his 
general expressions on National questions rather indi- 
cated his disapproval. It was not long after he became 
Governor imtil it became well known that he did not 
approve of the National government attempting to 
force the LeCompton constitution on the people of 
Kansas, and he removed all doubt on the subject 
before the close of the session of the Legislature. 

Colonel Forney was invited by the Legislature to 
deliver an address in the hall of the house and Gover- 
nor Packer presided. Forney was just then entering 
upon his battle against the President, and Governor 
Packer, in introducing Forney, emphasized his approval 
of Forney's battle for the exclusion of slavery in the 
new Northern Territories. Thus the new Democratic 
Governor was in open antagonism to Pennsylvania's 
Democratic President. Packer maintained a very 
dignified attitude, made no aggressive warfare against 
the National administration, but he never allowed him- 
self to be misunderstood, and the whole moral power 
of his administration was in support of the revolution 
for which Forney was then earnestly battling. 

Governor Porter was living in Harrisburg when 
Packer was inaugurated, and although retired from 
active business operations was nevertheless active in 
public affairs, and as he had given Packer his first 
start on his political career by appointing him auditor 
general when quite a yoimg man, he felt that he had 
strong claims upon the new Governor, and proposed 
that Packer should call to his cabinet, as attorney 
general, ex-Governor Porter's son, William A. Porter, 
then a prominent member of the bar of Philadelphia. 
Packer fully appreciated his obligations to Porter, and 

3^o Old Time Notes 

was very desirous to comply with any request that 
Porter might make; but Porter was not then in good 
favor with the Democratic party, and Packer felt that 
the appointment of yoimg Porter to his cabinet would 
result in factious opposition to his administration and 
thus endanger its success. 

Packer finally proposed to Porter to call Justice John 
C. Knox from the supreme court to the attorney gener- 
alship, and appoint William A. Porter to succeed Knox 
as supreme judge. As the position of supreme judge 
was higher than that of attorney general, with a 
reasonable prospect at that time of an election for the 
full term of fifteen years, ex-Governor Porter accepted 
the arrangement, and the result was that Judge Knox 
was made attorney general with ex-Senator William 
M. Heister, of Berks, as secretary of the common- 
wealth, and William A. Porter was appointed to the 
vacant judgeship. It proved to be an unfortunate 
arrangement for Judge Porter. While he was nomi- 
nated very cordially for election, the mutterings of the 
revolutionary political tempest culminated in that 
year, and Porter suffered an overwhelming defeat by 
the election of John M. Read, the nominee of the united 
opposition. Judge Porter was so keenly disappointed 
and chagrined at the defeat that he resigned immedi- 
ately after the election, when he had less than three 
months of his appointed term to serve. 

The Main Line of public works had been sold to the 
Pennsylvania Railroad, leaving the various local canals, 
such as the North and West Branches and others, to 
be managed by the board of canal commissioners. 
The management of the public works had long been a 
running sore, resulting in large losses to the State, 
and there was a very general desire that they should 
be disposed of and the State entirely divested of its 
interest in transportation lines. 

of Pennsylvania 321 

The Siinbury & Erie Railroad Company, now known 
as the Philadelphia & Erie, had long been struggling 
to complete a line through from Sunbury to Erie. 
The construction of such a line was first proposed by 
Nicholas Biddle, the president of the United States 
Bank. New York had completed her canal from 
Buffalo to the Eastern sea, and he saw that the only 
way to hold a share of the Lake and Western trade for 
Philadelphia was to reach the lakes by railway at Erie. 
Various attempts were made to construct the road, 
but it was completed only from Sunbury to Williams- 
port, and each new organization repeated the story of 

A ntunber of very able and experienced railway men 
finally conceived the idea of practically borrowing the 
credit of the State, without imposing any liability upon 
the Commonwealth, to aid in the construction of this 
road. The proposition was that the various canals 
remaining in the ownership of the State should be sold 
to the Sunbury & Erie Railway Company for $3,000,000, 
giving the railway company the right to sell or mortgage 
the different canals as might be deemed best, the pro- 
ceeds to be applied to the construction of the Erie 
line, and the State to accept a mortgage upon the line 
for the $3,000,000 to be paid for the canals. It was 
believed that the money resulting from the mortgage 
or sale of the canals would give sufficient means as 
stated to complete the Erie line, and that when com- 
pleted the $3,000,000 mortgage held by the State as 
payment for the canals would be abundant security 
against loss to the Commonwealth. 

A bill entitled **An act for the sale of the State 
canals" was read in place early in the session, and a 
very earnest battle followed in both senate and house, 
as the canal board had great power and the sale of 
the canals wotild simply retire them from politics and 


322 Old Time Notes 

plxinder. The few Republicans in the House generally 
supported it. The canal board was entirely Demo- 
cratic, and had long been a fountain of corrupt political 
power in the State. The interest in the construction 
of the railway brought Philadelphia practically solid 
in both senate and house in favor of the bill, as it did 
the Democratic legislators along its entire line. The 
bill was fought with desperation at every step, but it 
finally passed the house by a decided majority, and 
after a long and somewhat embittered battle in the 
senate, passed that body by one majority. 

Governor Packer resided in Williamsport on the 
line of the road, and, of course, was intensely interested 
in the measure. The bill did not reach him until 
within a few days of the final adjournment, and, upon 
careful examination of it, the Governor discovered that 
a single sentence in the bill, the possible importance 
of which had been entirely overlooked by those who 
framed it, would result in very serious embarrassment 
in executing its provisions. He could not return it 
with objections, as it could not be passed over the 
veto; there was no time for the passage of a new bill, 
and the bill could be amended in the hands of the 
Governor only by the adoption of a joint resolution 
instructing such change. A joint resolution was re- 
quired to lay over a day under the rule, and it required 
two-thirds to suspend the rule, while the delay of a 
day would be fatal. 

The matter was submitted to Speaker Longenecker, 
who presided with great dignity over the body, and he 
informed those who were conferring with him in the 
interest of the bill that a joint resolution could not be 
read and passed finally on the same day. 

Among the prominent Democratic members of the 
body was George Nelson Smith, of Cambria, well 
versed in parliamentary rules, and much mpre flexible 

Of Pennsylvania 323 

under exacting circumstances than the speaker. Smith 
was one of the most popular of all the members of the 
house. He told a good story, sang a good song, and 
had been with Sam Houston at the battle of San Ja- 
cinto. It was suggested to Speaker Longenecker that 
if he would permit Smith to take the chair the diffi- 
culty could be evaded and the amendment to the bill 

The speaker consented. Smith took the chair and 
the resolution to amend the bill was changed from the 
usual form of a joint resolution by saying: '* Resolved, 
If the senate concur," giving it the appearance of a 
house resolution requiring simply the concurrence 
of the senate. As soon as it was read the point was 
raised that it was a joint resolution and must lie over 
for a day, but Smith faced the emergency with magnifi- 
cent boldness, deciding that it was not a joint resolution 
and directing the final vote to be called. 

It was evident that a majority of the house meant 
to save the bill; tactics for delay would be defeated 
by the previous question, and by the aggressive action 
of acting Speaker Smith the house was suddenly 
brought to a call of the yeas and nays and the bill was 
saved. The senate had ample time for concurrence 
and it was given. 

Even after giving the Erie Railroad Company the 
benefit of the loan of $3,000,000, the work was pushed 
forward tmder many embarrassments, but it was finally 
completed. It was on the verge of breaking down 
in the general prostration of i860, but the Legislature 
of that time came to its relief and tided it over by an 
extension of credit. When the war came with its 
quickening of business and large increase of circulating 
medium, the great enterprise of building a railroad 
through an almost continued wilderness from Wil- 
liamsport to Lake Erie was completed, and the State 

324 Old Time Notes 

gained not only by the sale of its canals and the abol- 
ishment of the canal board, but the $3,000,000 were 
abtmdantly secured to it. The new railroad brought 
multiplied wealth to the State and the people that 
could never have been realized excepting by the con- 
struction of a great railway through the botmdless 
riches of that region. 

The legislative session of 1858 was made memorable 
by a unique and desperate struggle made to depose 
Judge Wilmot from the bench. When nominated for 
Governor he resigned to take the stump in what he 
knew to be an utterly hopeless contest, and a close 
friend of his was appointed by Governor Pollock to 
succeed him. Soon after the election the new judge 
resigned, and Wilmot was restored to his judicial 
duties by appointment. 

I have never known more embittered and even 
malignant personal and political hostility developed 
against a public man in his own commtmity than that 
exhibited by the opponents of Wilmot, who embraced 
nearly all the Democratic members of the bar of the 
judicial district composed of Bradford and Susque- 
hanna. He was a scrupulously honest man in public 
trust and in all private relations, and, however strong 
his political prejudices, he was so big and broad in all 
the qualities of manhood that his personal feelings 
never entered into his judicial actions. His opponents 
felt that they had gained a great triumph by defeating 
him for Governor and they resolved to fight the battle 
to a finish for his annihilation. They had both branches 
of the Legislature and the Governor, and it was decided 
to abolish the judicial district by attaching Susque- 
hanna to one of the old districts and Bradford to 

Victor E. Piolett, who had been in the Legislature 
some years before, and was long prominent in Demo- 

Of Pennsylvania 325. 

cratic politics, led the fight against Wilmot, and it was 
very carefully and shrewdly planned to win. An 
entirely harmless bill, attracting little attention and 
no opposition, but to which an amendment abolishing 
Wilmot 's district would be germane in that day, was 
passed in the house and soon after the bill reached the 
senate it became an open secret that the bill would 
there be amended, abolishing Wilmot 's district. 

It was first earnestly opposed by several of the lead- 
ing Democratic senators as a dangerous precedent of 
legislative interference with the judiciary. Samuel 
J. Randall, then in his first session of service, took a 
bold stand against the bill and the venerable Judge 
Wilkins at first declared his purpose to stand abreast 
with Randall. It required considerable time to get 
the Democrats of the senate in shape to pass the vin- 
dictive measure, but Judge Wilkins finally yielded and 
Randall stood alone in opposition to it. He made a 
manly and heroic struggle, although he was entirely 
without sympathy with Judge Wilmot 's political 
record, but he was defeated. The amendment was 
adopted in the bill and its final passage effected. 

Piolett's brother-in-law, William H. Miller, was clerk 
of the senate and he could message the bill back to the 
house for concurrence at any time he chose. For- 
ttmately, by the time the senate had passed the bill, 
by some extraordinary legislative trades, the house 
was prepared to vote down the amendment, although 
it was tmknown and entirely tmsuspected by the anti- 
Wilmot leaders. 

Wilmot had been in Harrisburg two weeks and pre- 
pared a very able and dispassionate appeal to the Legis- 
lature against the policy of the measure. He was a 
bom fighter and he had been assailed and defamed by 
the Democratic leaders of his district tmtil he felt that 
if they succeeded in abolishing his district they would 

326 Old Time Notes 

win a final triumph over him from which he saw no 
prospect of recovery. He simimoned a number of his 
friends the day before the bill passed the senate, when 
it was well known what the action of that body would 
be, and made a most earnest and even pathetic appeal 
to us to make an effort, even at the cost of some con- 
sistency, to form combinations in the house whereby 
sufficient Democrats could be had to defeat the measure. 

The leading Democratic lawyers in the house, in- 
cluding Judge Nill, Goepp, Richmond L. Jones, Cal- 
houn and others, were at heart opposed to the measure, 
but felt that it was not in their power to defeat it. 
They had all given us the assurance that if they were 
certain of a majority they would join us. Wilmot had 
fifteen clean Republicans in the house who had agreed 
in his presence to make any sacrifice to save their chief. 
They were all brought together and solemnly promised 
that if the defeat of the anti- Wilmot bill could be 
assured they would vote for or against any pending 
measure in the house to accomplish the result, and 
Lawrence, of Dauphin, and myself were assigned the 
task of trading in the Democrats. 

Jacob Ziegler was clerk of the house, and had been 
either chief or assistant clerk for some years. He was 
a universal favorite, and it was well known that no 
legislative serpent wriggled around the house that 
escaped his notice, and his relations with them were 
generally friendly. With fifteen votes, all of which 
had been cast against every measure of questionable 
honesty, in stock for the deal, we first called upon Chief 
Clerk Ziegler and told him that we had fifteen votes 
who were outside of the general legislative market, and 
wanted to know the most important measure in the 
house on which a trade could be effected. His face 
immediately brightened, and he said: **Why, youVe 
just the men Tm looking for. You voted against and 

Of Pennsylvania 327 

helped to defeat the new usury bill that was before the 
house, and," said he, ** it was the biggest serpent that 
has been wriggling around here for some time." The 
penalty of the usury law at that time was the forfeiture 
of principal and interest, and even if both the parties 
to the contract were entirely satisfied with the usurious 
arrangement, any outside person could proceed against 
the usurer and receive half the forfeiture as informer. 

Ziegler told us that the new bill we had defeated 
only two days before, involved $120,000 to a promi- 
nent banker of Harrisburg, who was sued for a usurious 
contract for that amoimt. Said he: ** You are in time 
to reconsider it, and with your fifteen votes we can pass 
the bill." We then told him that we would give him 
the fifteen votes for fifteen Democratic votes against 
the bill abolishing Wilmot's district. He told us that 
we could have them on sight. 

There had been considerable lobbying for the bill, 
and it was not difficult for Ziegler to transfer fifteen 
Democratic votes to our measure, as it enabled the 
commercial members to fulfill their contracts. He 
wrote down at once the names of fifteen men, and gave 
his solemn assurance that they would all be seen within 
an hour, and that not one would refuse to join us. 

I then asked him what was left on the trading list, to 
which he answered that the usual portage railroad 
bill for extra expenditures, most of which was theft, 
was hanging in the house for want of a majority, and 
said he: "I can get you eight more votes for your fif- 
teen if you will agree to vote for the portage appropria- 
tion. " Thus in less than ten minutes we had concluded 
negotiations with Ziegler, which we knew he was 
abundantly able to carry out, for twenty-three Demo- 
cratic votes, enough with our thirty Republicans to 
defeat the bill. 

The names of all the Democrats who were to go with 

32 8 Old Time Notes 

us were given by Ziegler, to avoid doubling in our 
trades. Philadelphia then had a solid delegation 
elected on a joint ticket, but an amendment to the 
Constitution requiring single districts in Philadelphia 
Coimty was going into effect, and the whole seventeen 
Democratic members were hustling aroimd, each one 
trying to save a district for himself. There were two 
Donnellys in the house from Philadelphia, one a saloon 
keeper and the other a drayman, and the saloon keeper 
Donnelly had several times urged me to help him get 
a satisfactory district. He was very proud of his 
legislative career, and had written to his friends in Ire- 
land that he was a member of Parliament. 

I went to him and said that I could give him fifteen 
votes for his legislative apportionment in Philadelphia, 
and wanted to know how many Democratic votes he 
could give me to defeat the Wilmot bill. He said he 
could not give me over six, and I told him that would 
be satisfactory. 

I asked him for the names, and I give his answer 
literally: '* There's the two Donnellys is one,*' and he 
named on till he got four others, but as he coimted only 
five instead of six, he scratched his head and said: '* By 
jimminee, McClure, IVe got six. There's the two 
Donnellys is one," and he continued his coimt until he 
got up to five. 

I said: ** All right, Donnelly, if your men will stick," 
and he gave me the most emphatic promise that they 
would stand by him, as they did. 

I then went to Nill, Goepp, Jones, Calhoun and the 
other leading Democratic lawyers who wanted the bill 
defeated, and gave them the positive assurance, that 
was guaranteed by Clerk Ziegler, that the Wilmot bill 
would be defeated, and they then agreed to take the 
lead and oppose it. This work was done while the 
senate was considering the bill on final passage, and 

of Pennsylvania 329 

by the time it was disposed of in the senate we were 
entirely ready to welcome it to a hospitable grave in 
the house. 

The movement was not suspected by Piolett or any 
of the othei leaders opposed to Wilmot, and it became 
important for us to have the amended bill brought to 
the house as speedily as possible to prevent Piolett 
from discovering the set-up against it. I was well 
acquainted with Piolett and managed to come up to 
him, apparently accidentally, and made an appeal to 
him not to send the Wilmot bill to the house that after- 
noon, as the Republicans were very anxious to have a 
full discussion of it, and we wanted a special night 
session so that we might be heard freely and fully. 

The appeal to Piolett accomplished just what we 
wanted. He then suspected that there was something 
on hand for which we wanted delay, and within ten 
minutes his brother-in-law, the clerk of the senate, 
brought the amended bill into the house. 

Speaker Longenecker understood the situation and 
was in sympathy with the Democrats who opposed the 
bill, and knew that the house was ready for the fray. 
The bill was laid on the speaker's table, and immedi- 
ately called up by one of the prominent Democratic 
lawyers, who, to the utter consternation of the anti- 
Wilmot Democrats, fired a defiant broadside against it 
and was followed by Goepp, Calhotm, Jones and others, 
the Republicans being silent. The result was the 
defeat of the bill by a two-thirds vote in a house that 
was more than two-thirds Democratic, and the portage 
railroad jobbers got their appropriation, and the present 
usury law was promptly reconsidered on my own 
motion, and carried, by which the Harrisburg banker 
saved his many thousands, the loss of which was so 
seriously threatened. 

Most of the fifteen votes who stood solid for Wilmot 

330 Old Time Notes 

were Republicans from the northern counties with 
unsullied legislative records, and they stood squarely 
to their guns and fulfilled their contract to the letter. 
The defeat of the Piolett organization in the house was 
so tmexpected and overwhelming that they suddenly 
disappeared from the Capitol and Wilmot returned to 
his judicial duties in triumph, with even his bitterest 
enemies compelled to respect the power he had been 
able to wield in imhorsing them. 

This emphatic record made by the Democrats against 
violent legislative interference with the judiciary saved 
at least two Democratic judges from being judicially 
disrobed during the fierce poUtical passions of the 
Civil War. 

of Pennsylvania 331 


Anti-LeCompton Democrats Ready to Join in a Movement against the 
Democracy — John Hickman's Heroic Career — Sweeping Revolu- 
tions in the Congressional Districts — Thaddeus Stevens Returns 
to Congress — How He made Edward MacPherson a Congressman 
— MacPherson's Important Work as a Politician, Clerk of the 
House and Historian. 

THE election of 1857 achieved what the leaders of 
the State expected to accomplish by the nom- 
ination of Wilmot and fighting the campaign 
on a high Republican plane, leaving the Know 
Nothing element to make a public exhibition of its 
weakness. A successful fusion could not have been 
effected between the several elements opposed to 
Democracy because of the corrupt and demoralized 
leadership of the Know Nothing element. By the 
nomination of Wilmot it was forced to stand alone, 
and it came out of the struggle with only 28,000 votes, 
one-half of which were cast in the city of Philadelphia, 
while Wilmot received over 146,000. 

The Republican element that had just asserted its 
mastery in the battle of 1857 was greatly strengthened 
by the continued disturbance in Kansas and the vio- 
lent efforts sanctioned by the National administration 
of the Democratic party to force slavery into the 
Territory. The honest residents of Kansas exhibited 
heroic qualities in resisting the power of the National 
government, whether it came by direct violent oppres- 
sion or by studied efforts to tempt the people from 
fidelity to their own convictions by measures offering 
vmusual 9,dvantages to the new States. The attempt 

332 Old Time Notes 

to force the LeCompton constitution upon the people 
of Kansas exhausted the ingenuity and resources of 
Democratic statesmanship and power. The people 
of the Territory braved civil war, the destruction of 
private property by the border ruffian, and the sacrifice 
of homes and crops, rather than accept a slavery con- 
stitution that was offensive to their convictions. 

A new political factor was developed early in 1858 
known as the *' Anti-LeCompton Democrats, " embrac- 
ing such men as Montgomery and Hickman, of Penn- 
sylvania; Haskins, of New York, and others. Mont- 
gomery and Hickman were among the ablest of the 
Democrats in the Pennsylvania delegation, as was 
Haskins, in New York's. They were in the forefront 
of the fight on the floor of the House and voted steadily 
with the Republicans on the Kansas issue. 

John Hickman had been twice elected to Congress 
in one of the strongest Republican districts of the 
State, composed of Chester and Delaware. In 1854 
he was the regular Democratic candidate against 
the late Judge Broomall, of Delaware. It was the 
year of the Know Nothing hurricane, and that organi- 
zation secretly adopted Hickman as its candidate and 
elected him over Broomall by 2,656 majority, when 
Pollock, the Whig candidate for Governor, had 2,800 
majority in the same counties. Although elected 
as a regular Democrat, he was strongly anti-slavery in 
his convictions, and aggressively opposed the whole 
slavery policy of the Democratic administration. 
In 1856 he was renominated by the Democrats against 
Bowen, who was chosen as the Republican candidate. 
It was apparently a square fight on party lines, but 
a large Republican element that appreciated Hick- 
man's courage and ability in opposing the slavery- 
policy of the administration supported Hickman and 
elected him by 173 majority. In 1858, when a strong 

Of Pennsylvania 33 


tide had set in against the slavery policy of the Demo- 
cratic President, Broomall was again made the can- 
didate of the Republicans and the Democrats were 
so little in sympathy with Hickman's anti-slavery 
policy that they nominated Mr. Manley as the regular 
Democratic candidate, who had exhibited tmusual 
strength in Delaware Cotmty by electing himself to 
the Legislature. Hickman was placed in the field by 
an organization of Anti-LeCompton Democrats, and 
he spUt the Republican party into nearly equal divi- 
sions, resulting in his election by 1,601 over Manley 
and 2,100 over Broomall. During his third term in 
Congress Hickman logically drifted into the Republi- 
can organization, and was elected to a fourth term in 
i860 as the Republican candidate by a majority of 
2,500. He was a man of indomitable courage, of 
stem fidelity to his own convictions and an tmusually 
able disputant. He closed his public career as a 
Republican member of the Legislature after his 
physical vigor had been greatly impaired, but his 
name stands in history to-day as one of the heroic and 
patriotic Democrats who stood up against the party 
organization when it made the issue of slavery exten- 
sion paramount. 

Galusha A. Grow was an old Democrat who was 
also returned to Congress, but he had identified him- 
self with the Republican organization in 1856, and 
could not therefore be classed among the Anti-Le 
Compton Democrats. 

Montgomery, of Washington, was elected in the 
Fayette, Greene and Washington district in 1856 by 
a majority of 845. He was a man of quite xmusual 
intellectual force and as rugged physically as he was 
mentally. He was a man of exceptional power as a 
disputant, and he strengthened his position by one 
of the boldest speeches against the Kansas policy of 

334 Old Time Notes 

the administration that was delivered in the House. 
He was very strong with the people of his district, 
notwithstanding his issue with the administration on 
the Kansas question, and he was nominated for re- 
election by the regular party conference. Some of 
the old mossback Democrats opposed him, but a large 
Republican element went to his support, giving him a 
majority of 3,500, more than four times the majority 
given him two years before. 

There were some strange revolutions in the con- 
gressional elections of that year. Henry M. Phillips, 
one of the leading Philadelphia lawyers, was elected 
in the Fourth district in 1856 by over 2,700 majority, 
and in 1858 Millward, the Union candidate, defeated 
him by 300. Owen Jones, a prominent Democrat oi 
Montgomery, who had been elected to Congress in a 
district consisting of that coimty and three wards of 
Philadelphia by over i ,700 majority in 1856, was defeat- 
ed by Mr. Wood, the Union candidate, in 1858, by 2,500. 

The strangest revolution of that revolutionary 
season was the defeat of J. Glancey Jones in the Berks 
district. Jones was one of the ablest of the Dem- 
cratic leaders of the State, a man not only of great 
ability, but cultured and accomplished in all his mental 
and physical qualities. He was regarded as the 
oracle of President Buchanan in the House. He was 
an experienced parliamentarian, as he was then serv- 
ing his fourth term in Congress and had been unani- 
mously renominated for another term, but the Anti- 
LeCompton Democrats organized and nominated John 
Schwartz, a venerable German citizen not above 
mediocrity in mental attainments, but an intelligent 
and highly respected representative of the industrial 
class. The contest became very animated and Jones 
led his battle with masterly ability, never doubting 
for a moment that he would win by a somewhat 

Of Pennsylvania 335 

reduced majority, but he was not only surprised but 
dumfounded, when the final returns were known, to 
find himself defeated by 19 majority where he had 
received 6,004 majority two years before. 

President Buchanan exhibited his intense interest 
in the issue as well as his devotion to Mr. Jones by 
annotmcing on the day after the election the appoint- 
ment of Jones as Minister to Austria. Jones resigned 
his position in the House to accept the Austrian mis- 
sion and at a special election to fill the vacancy the 
Democrats were so demoralized that the Republicans 
elected General Keim to fill the vacancy, being the 
only instance in which the Republicans carried Berks 
County in a party contest. 

A strong Democratic district composed of Columbia, 
Luzerne, Montour and Wyoming was also carried by 
over 3,800 by Colonel Scranton, the Union candidate, 
and Judge Hale, of the Centre district, defeated 
Allison White, then a resident of Clinton, but later 
a resident of Philadelphia, by 1,900 majority, where 
White had been elected two years before by over 500. 
Judge Jtmkin, who is yet living in his native county of 
Perry, was elected in the Cumberland, Perry and York 
district by 46 majority, notwithstanding the natural 
3,000 Democratic majority that confronted him. Ed- 
ward MacPherson, then prominent as an editor and 
general political writer, made his first apperarance in 
public life as a successor of Wilson Reilly, who had 
been elected in the Adams, Bedford, Franklin, Fulton 
and Juniata district by over 500 majority in 1856 and 
was distanced by MacPherson by 267. 

The sweeping character of the revolution of 1858 
will be tmderstood when it is remembered that in the 
delegation elected in 1856 the Democrats had fifteen 
of the twenty-five members, and in the delegation 
chosen in 1858 there were only three members elected 

336 Old Time Notes 

on the Democratic ticket, viz., Florence, of Phila- 
delphia; Dimmick, of the Tenth Legion, and Mont- 
gomery, who was an Anti-LeCompton Democrat. 
On the vital issue made paramoimt by the Buchanan 
administration the Pennsylvania delegation elected 
in 1858 stood 23 to 2. 

A very carefully and completely planned organi- 
zation was effected in Congress early in 1858 to give 
special attention to the election of members of the 
next House, and every debatable congressional district 
was thoroughly organized and a clear majority carried 
against the administration. The House chosen in 
1858 footed up 113 Republicans, 23 Americans or 
Southern opponents of Democracy, 8 Anti-LeComp- 
ton Democrats and 93 Administration Democrats, and 
the House was organized by electing ex-Governor 
Pennington, of New Jersey, speaker, and Colonel 
Forney, of Pennsylvania, as clerk. The election of 
Forney was intended to emphasize the popular revul- 
sion against President Buchanan. 

Thaddeus Stevens had been in Congress for four 
years, but he willingly retired, as he regarded the 
battle against slavery then to be hopeless. His 
second term ended in the middle of the Pierce admin- 
istration. He saw that the Whig party was shorn of 
its strength, and he saw nothing in the future that 
promised successful battle against the slave power. 
In mingled disgust and despair he decided to retire 
from public life and devote himself to his profession, 
but soon after his retirement Buchanan, his fellow- 
townsman and implacable poUtical foe, was elected 
President. The Missouri compromise had been re- 
pealed, the South was battling to force slavery into 
Kansas and Nebraska, the Dred Scott decision had 
practically declared that the black man had no rights 
that the white man was boimd to respect, and there 

Of Pennsylvania 337 

was such deep-seated unrest that Stevens decided to 
return to Congress, believing that at last a hopeful 
battle could be made against the advance of slavery. 
He consented to return to Congress only after a very 
careful examination of the political conditions of the 
coimtry, which satisfied him that there was a very 
reasonable prospect of the opponents of the Buchanan 
administration carrying a majority of the next House, 
and he devoted much of his time to organizing the 
congressional contests in his own State, and to some 
extent in other States. 

Soon after his nomination he visited me at Cham- 
bersburg, where I was his attorney in representing 
his furnace and other business interests in that county, 
and appealed to me to accept the nomination for Con- 
gress. The district was regarded as a safe Whig 
district as created by the Legislature, but the advent 
of the Know Nothings had driven from 500 to 800 
native-bom Catholic Whigs into the Democratic party 
in Franklin and Adams, making the district reliably 
Democratic imder ordinary conditions, as the Demo- 
cratic candidate for Congress had carried it by over 
500 at the previous election. I had been elected to 
the Legislature the year before in a strongly adverse 
district by a singular combination of favorable cir- 
cumstances, and Stevens insisted that I cotild carry 
the district, and that I must accept the nomination. 
He was very earnest in his appeals, but the contest 
was a desperate one at best, and even if successful 
would have been costly, not only in handling the 
campaign, but also in separating me very largely, if 
not wholly, from my professional duties. I was not 
in a condition to afford either sacrifice, and Stevens 
finally reluctantly accepted my positive declination. 

He then decided to go to Gettysburg, his old home, 
and urge Edward MacPherson to take the nomination. 


338 Old Time Notes 

MacPherson at first refused, but he had great respect 
for Stevens' wishes in the matter and he finally agreed 
that he would accept the nomination if I would agree 
to go on the local ticket for a second term in the Legis- 
lature, as that would relieve him of organization for 
the battle in Franklin County, where his chief ma- 
jority had to be attained to give him success. 

Stevens returned to Chambersburg, told me of 
MacPherson 's willingness to accept on the condition 
that I should return to the house, and he added: 
** I gave him the positive promise that you would do 
so and organize and bring out the full vote of Franklin 

I had on every occasion, when it was appropriate 
to give expression on the subject, announced that I 
would not be a candidate for re-election to the house. 
There did not seem to be a doubt of election, as every 
indication pointed to a political revulsion that would 
bring an easy victory in the legislative district, and 
cherishing, as I did, a devoted friendship for Mac- 
Pherson, I consented to the arrangement, was unani- 
mously renominated, made a thorough personal 
canvass of the county extending to every election 
district, resulting in my election by a quadrupled 
majority, and MacPherson won out by 267, Franklin 
giving him one-third more majority than he received 
in the entire district. 

MacPherson was imusually well equipped for ser- 
vice in the field of National politics. He was one of 
the readiest and most forceful of the political writers 
of his day and a walking political cyclopedia. He 
commanded a high measure of respect immediately 
upon his appearance in the House, and was one of 
the most industrious and generally intelligent of the 
members on every subject of legislation. He was 
re-elected to the House by a large majority in i860, 

Of Pennsylvania 339 

when Curtin and Lincoln swept the State, but he was 
defeated by Coffroth in the revulsion of 1862, which 
was largely effected by the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion, although the general depression among the peop e 
naturally caused by the many defeats suffered by 
the Northern army was an important factor in the 
Republican disaster of that year. 

Forttmately for the House and for MacPherson, he 
was chosen chief clerk of the Congress to which he had 
failed in his re-election, and continued in that import- 
ant position for many years. His last official trust was 
that of Chief of the Treasury Bureau of Engraving and 
Printing, to which he was appointed by Hayes, as the 
popular branch of Congress was then Etemocratic, and 
MacPherson was retired from the clerkship. 

He was known in Washington as the best informed 
in political history of any of the members of the 
House, and the most valuable records of his highly 
creditable career remain in his ** History of the Great 
Rebellion,'' his ** History of Reconstruction" and his 
political manuals, issued every two years tmtil the 
great task of reconstruction was completed. These 
works of MacPherson 's can be accepted by any intel- 
ligent student of to-day who wants to acqmre an 
accurate and complete history of the Civil War and 
Reconstruction. AH of the many important Recon- 
struction measures are carefully presented, with the 
action of each House given in detail; every battle 
of the war is faithfully recorded in brief, and his work 
on Reconstruction is the only entirely reliable con- 
nected history we have to-day of the tempestuous and 
long-protracted struggle for the rehabilitation of the 
seceding States. He was a severe student without at 
any time enjoying vigorous health, and his arduous 
labors ended his career when he was well eqmpped to 
render very great service to his State and Nation. 

340 Old Time Notes 



The Know Nothings or Americans Eliminated from Politics— Morton 
McMichael Baptized the People's Party — ^John M. Read of Phila- 
delphia Nominated for the Supreme Bench Against the Instruc- 
tions of Philadelphia Delegates — Elected by Over 25,000 — The 
House Changed from Two-thirds Democratic to Two-thirds People's 
Party — ^The Author's Contest for Speaker of the House — His First 
Experience with Cameron Tactics. 

THE year 1858 dated the beginning of the final 
overthrow of the great Democratic party that 
had ruled the nation from the time of Jefferson 
in 1800 tmtil the election of Lincoln in i860. There 
had been two Whig Presidents elected during that 
time — Harrison in 1840 and Taylor in 1848 — but 
they made no special change in the general policy 
of the government beyond halting for a period and 
somewhat conserving Democratic power. Since 1858, 
when the popular revolt against the Buchanan admin- 
istration swept the Northern States and blazed the 
way for the triumphant election of Lincoln two years 
later, the Democrats have never elected a President 
by Etemocratic votes. They gave popular majorities 
to Tilden in 1876 and to Cleveland in each of his three 
Presidential struggles, but the majorities given the 
Democrats came from disaffected Republican elements. 

The Whig party was entirely eliminated as a political 
factor in the contest of 1856, and in the Northern 
States there remained only the Republicans, the Demo- 
crats and fragments of the American or Know Noth- 
ing organization. 

In only two States did the Americans attempt to 

Of Pennsylvania 341 

assert themselves. In Massachusetts, where they 
had triumphed over both the old parties, they made 
a battle for Gk)vemor in 1858, but were overwhelm- 
ingly defeated by the election of Banks, and in New 
York, tmder the lead of Fillmore, they were greatly 
embittered against the Republicans. They had polled 
125,000 votes for Fillmore in 1856, when Fremont 
carried the State by 80,000, but in 1857 they had lost 
the greater proportion of the Democratic element, 
and polled a small fraction over one-half their vote 
of the previous year. Negotiations were attempted 
when the Republican convention met at Albany, but 
the pro-slavery Americans were so intolerant that 
finally after a conference with them Thurlow Weed 
arose in the Republican State convention and moved 
to proceed to the nomination of a candidate for Gk)v- 
emor. That motion made by the leader of leaders 
of the Republicans was notice to the convention that 
there could be no affiliation with the Americans, and 
the Republicans nominated Morgan for Gk)vemor, 
who was elected by nearly 18,000 plurality. 

In all the other Northern States the Americans made 
no distinct nominations, and either formally or inform- 
ally fused with the Republicans. In Indiana fusion was 
effected on the State ticket, but the Democrats won 
out by majorities ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 for their 
entire State ticket, embracing six candidates, but the 
fusion carried eight of the eleven Congressmen. A 
like fusion was effected in Illinois and carried the 
State ticket by 3,800 majority. The contest of that 
year between Douglas and Lincoln for United States 
Senator made Lincoln the next President of the United 
States. Until then he was little known outside of his 
own State, but when even his opponents had to con- 
fess that he was a foeman worthy of the steel of Doug- 
las in popular debate, the attention of the whole 

342 Old Time Notes 

cotintry was attracted to the masterly ability exhibited 
by Lincoln in a contest with the ablest and most adroit 
poptilar champion of the Democratic party. 

In all the Southern States the opposition to the 
Democracy was rallied under the flag of the American 
party, and it elected twenty-three members of Con- 
gress, more than enough to hold the balance of power 
between the distinctive Republican and Democratic 

The humiliating defeat suffered by the Pennsyl- 
vania Americans in 1857, when they were compelled 
to exhibit their weakness in utter nakedness, made it 
impossible for the leaders of the remnant of that 
organization to assert themselves as a political factor 
in a State contest, and when a call for the third Union 
convention was issued, the Americans very generally 
and cordially co-operated with the movement. It 
was deemed expedient to change the name of the oppo- 
sition organization, as many of the old Americans had 
some reluctance about coming into the support of 
the Union party, against which they had been earn- 
estly battling only a year before. Morton McMichael, 
who headed the Philadelphia delegation, offered a 
resolution declaring that, as the convention repre- 
sented the people of every political faith opposed to 
the offensive policy of the National administration, 
the title of the opposition should be the People's 
party. The proposition was accepted with cheers, 
and all but a very few of the old Americans accepted 
the new fellowship, and the battle was thus opened 
with a thoroughly united opposition against the 

The convention was an unusually able one. I 
well remember meeting at various conferences such 
men as Governor Ritner, Thaddeus Stevens, the late 
Chief Justice Mercur, Colonel Mann, Congressmen 

Of Pennsylvania 343 

Grow and Moorehead, and many others of more than 
State reputation. It was believed by all that with a 
tinited opposition the State could be won by a large 
majority, and a tmiversal spirit of confidence pervaded 
the deliberations of the body. 

The delegates chosen to the convention by the 
opposition elements of Philadelphia were instructed 
to support Judge Oswald Thompson for supreme 
judge. Judge Thompson was a man of admitted 
ability and tmusually well equipped as a judge, but 
he was little known outside of the city. The promi- 
nent members of the convention were generally united 
in the conviction that as they had an almost assured 
certainty of success, they should nominate the ablest 
representative of the Pennsylvania bar for supreme 
judge, and there was little dispute at the time that 
John M. Read, of Philadelphia, was the man who 
should be made the candidate. Until 1856 he had 
been one of the great Democratic leaders of the State, 
although opposed to the slavery policy adopted by 
his party. His anti-slavery convictions had been 
part of the faith of his life, as was clearly exhibited 
in his defense of Castner Hanway, when tried for 
treason in the United States Court, before Judge Grier, 
for alleged participation in the Christiana riots. 

It was the first important trial in the State tmder 
the fugitive slave law, part of the compromise meas- 
ures of 1850, that made it the duty of every citizen 
to aid in the capture of fugitive slaves imder penalty 
of severe pimishment. Hanway, a Chester County 
Quaker, happened to come upon the grotmd when 
Mr. Gorsuch, of Maryland, was attempting to capture 
two or three of his fugitive slaves near Christiana, 
but it was proven that he had come there only to 
advise the preservation of peace. When there he was 
summoned by Gorsuch to aid in the arrest of the slaves, 


$44 Old Time Nates 

^uod bacsDQse be inef nasad lo ezpiG^^ Im life., as Gcingnidli 
did, wto laras Hlfed -on ib^r ^id. ito aumest iingittow^ 

tbsn s^fb^lV^y tSse aiylsst DenxensLitSc icDember di 
tbe !j«ar ^Z tbe State- appeaj^d for tbe dcsfemse sikmg 
with Tliia/44etas Stevens and others. Tbe ibbodsig 
oar of tbe tml was }>ut upon Reaid, m wlhk^ be eachib- 
tted tnasterly sAAhiy as a trial lawyer. DesiuHdx^ isn the 
aoouittal of his €:\k:nt. 

He cfmtirmi^ to act with tbe Decoocratic party, 
altbcni;^ not aj/^JTOving of its repeal of the Missoori 
Omipixymise, until 1S56, when his fellow Democrats 
were astounded one morning to notice in the news- 
papers that a great mass meeting had been called at 
Harrisburg, at which John M. Read was to be the 
chief sf>eaker in fav'or of Fremont. 

Highly as Judge Thompson was respected by the 
bar of Philarlelphia, it was deemed of paramount 
imjx/rtance to the oj-fposition to win its first victory 
in the State with the ab|pst representative of the baar 
that amid \je furnished as a candidate for the supreme 
court. The Philadely>hia delegation readily di\nded 
on the questir/n under the force of the general 
argument that the y;resent victory should be made 
distinguished for the merit of its successful can- 

A jx^rti^/n of the Philadelphia delegation battled 
very earnestly for Thorn j>son, but the task soon 
became hofx4ess, and Judge Read was nominated by 
a large majority over a candidate for whom the dele- 
gation from his own city had been unanimously 
instructed. Read was not only strong because of his 
a^rlmitted legal ability and unblemished public and 
private character, but he was especially strong as a 
representative of the anti-slavery Democrats of the 
State. With all these attributes of strength he was 


• * » * 

P * • • 

Of Pennsylvania 345 

undoubtedly altogether the most formidable candi- 
date the opposition could have presented. 

The Democrats had their candidate already made 
for them by the appointment of William A. Porter by 
Gk)vemor Packer to succeed Justice John C. Knox 
of the supreme court, who had been called to the 
office of attorney general. Porter stood high in his 
profession, was personally unblemished, and he was 
unanimously nominated by the Democrats. Under 
ordinary conditions he wotild have been a strong 
and successful Democratic candidate, but he struck 
a tidal wave created by the perfect union of all the 
elements then opposing Democracy, and was defeated 
by 26,897. Porter was so thoroughly disgusted with 
his defeat that he promptly resigned his seat on the 
supreme bench, although he had less than three 
months to serve, and thereafter until his death he was 
unfelt and imknown in the political struggles of the 

At the same election a canal commissioner was 
chosen, and Senator Frazer, of Fayette, who had been 
elected to the senate by the Know Nothing organiza- 
tion was made the opposition candidate, and he was 
elected over Frost, Democrat, by 26,290. His triumph 
turned to ashes in his hands, as the sale of the last of 
the State canals had just been consummated, and in 
a few weeks after he had been qualified the canal 
board was abolished. 

A sweeping revolution was wrought in the popular 
branch of the Pennsylvania Legislature. I had served 
in the previous session, in which there were but thirty 
Republicans to seventy Democrats, being more than 
two-thirds Democratic, but the House chosen in 1858 
had only thirty-two Democrats to sixty-eight of the 
People's party. Thus the Democrats had more than 
two-thirds of the house of 1858, and less than one- 

346 Old Time Notes 

third of the same body in the session of 1859. Fully 
two-thirds of the majority members in the house were 
entirely new men and nearly all of them inexperienced 
in legislative service 

Soon after the election of 1858 I was asked by lead- 
ing members of the house to become a candidate for 
speaker, and until within two weeks of the meeting 
of the Legislature there was no other name presented 
for that important position I had not solicited the 
support of a single member, and of course was greatly 
gratified at the apparent unanimity with which the 
honor seemed to be coming to me. Representative 
Lawrence, of Dauphin, who had served with me in 
the previous session, and who was one of the admitted 
leaders of the body, was among the first to ask me to 
be a candidate for speaker, and as he was the only 
member whose position and experience might reason- 
ably make him a candidate for the chair, my election 
as speaker was discussed in the public press as assured 
without contest. 

Two weeks before the meeting of the Legislature, 
when on a visit to Harrisburg, Lawrence invited me 
to take a walk, and we strolled across the bridge chat- 
ting pleasantly, when he suddenly surprised me by 
saying that he must have the chairmanship of ways 
and means. I told him, what was entirely true, that 
not a single member had asked me to pledge myself 
on the subject of appointments to committees, and 
that I could not do so in his case. He answered half 
jocularly that if I did not give him the assurance of 
that chairmanship he would be a candidate for speaker. 
I laughed at what I supposed to be a, quixotic idea of 
my friend, and dismissed the subject, as I supposed 
that he was not serious in what I regarded as an 
utterly hopeless candidacy. 

We were both young men, he about twenty-eight and I 

Of Pennsylvania 347 

just thirty, and I made the mistake of assimiing that the 
battle was surely won in advance of the fight. He carried 
his case to Cameron, who well tmderstood the State 
and never had been friendly to me, and a quiet but 
thorough canvass of the members was made by per- 
sonal visitation and liberal promises made for import- 
ant positions on committees, and to my surprise when 
the Legislature was about to meet I found a very 
formidable opposition to my election as speaker. 

Until then I had made no effort whatever, but I 
immediately entered the fight, marshalled my forces 
and at three o 'clock in the afternoon of the day on which 
the caucus was to be held at eight in the evening, I had 
a caucus of my supporters, in which there were eight 
majority over the entire opposition vote of the house, 
but, to my surprise, when the vote was taken in the 
caucus Lawrence was nominated by two majority. 

I had my first political experience with Cameron 
in the contest. He had very actively organized the 
opposition to me, but when he found that I had a 
majority of eight in the caucus he decided on a cotmter 
movement, in which he was always a noted master. 
Soon after the adjournment of the caucus a personal 
friend of mine, who was aiso very close to Cameron, 
asked me to call at his room at the Omit House at 
four o'clock. I of course assented, and when I went to 
the hotel at the appointed time he met me at the door, 
took me to a room upstairs, opened the door and 
handed me in where I was face to face with General 

It was our first political conference. He informed 
me that I had been invited there to meet him, and 
that he desired to say to me that he was quite willing 
for me to be chosen speaker, but wished my assurance 
that his friends would not be ostracised in the organi- 
zation of the committees. I told him that I certainly 

348 Old Time Notes 

would not ostracise any man in the formation of the 
committees because of his friendship or enmity to 
himself or any other. He told me that I would be 
nominated by a decisive majority. I either did not 
know the measures of Cameron's cunning, or failed 
to give it due appreciation, and I defeated myself by 
inquiring whether Lawrence, to whom I was strongly 
personally attached, was aware of his meeting with 
me, and whether he was advised of the purpose Cam- 
eron had declared to me. Cameron answered that 
Lawrence did not know, and would not be advised of 
it ; that he, Cameron, was going to Washington that 
evening, and would not be in the city, but that his 
special friends knew of his plans. 

I exhibited the qualities of a political tenderfoot 
to an extent that has often amazed me since when 
thinking of it, by insisting that Lawrence should be 
brought into our presence and advised of the situa- 
tion, which Cameron declined. I then said to him 
that I would advise Lawrence myself of it. Cameron 
answered that he was sorry I was so foolish, and left 
me evidently displeased. Instead of going to Wash- 
ington he threw himself into the contest with re- 
doubled vigor, and the first knowledge I had of it 
was a personal notice from a close friend, a member 
of the house, who represented himself and three 
associates, informing me that imless I paid $200 these 
four votes would be lost. I summarily rejected the 
proposition, and the four votes, with an additional 
desertion, turned against me and defeated me by two 

Cameron thus had the speakership while I had the 
experience, and in the many conferences and arrange- 
ments which I made with Cameron during a score of 
years of politicaj hostility I never repeated the r61e of 
the political tenderfoot. 

Of Pennsylvania 349 

The election of Lawrence did not in any way change 
our personal relations, as he was an able and chival- 
rous fellow. He was, of course, fearfully embarrassed 
after his election by the niany promises made in his 
name for prominent positions on committees. I 
had been supported by nearly all the experienced 
members of the body, who as a rule were entitled to 
lead on committees, and common courtesy under 
the circumstances required Lawrence to tender me 
the first position on the floor as chairman of ways and 
means, but he called upon me and frankly told me of 
his embarrassment, and appealed to me to assist him 
in organizing the house as creditably as possible 
without violating the faith that had been pledged to 
his friends. 

I voluntarily resigned to him the chairmanship of 
ways and means, for which he was very grateful, 
and told him to dispose of me in any way he thought 
best ; that I certainly would not permit any factional 
strife in the first opposition house we had had for 
some years, and he placed me at the head of the 
judiciary committee. 

It was a political necessity that the house should 
have at least the appearance of harmony, and I very 
cordially supported the speaker in every emergency, 
so that no factional division line was visible at any 
time during the session. His health was then break- 
ing, and the next year, when he was again elected 
speaker of the body, he came to the speaker's stand 
with the marks of death indelibly stamped on his bright 
face Before the session had half passed he was 
tmable to discharge his duties of speaker and rarely 
appeared in the house, and only a few months later 
he slept the dreamless sleep of the dead. 

350 Old Time Notes 


The Opposition Strengthened by the Kansas Agitation and the Killing 
of Broderick in a Duel — An Early People's State Convention 
Called — ^Thomas E. Cochran Nominated for Auditor General and 
General Keim for Surveyor General — Both Elected by Large 
Majorities — ^The Author Forced into a Contest for State Senator — 
Political Conditions of the District — A Most Violent and Defama- 
tory Campaign — The Dtmkards Decide at Church Meeting to Vote 
for Neighbor McClure — ^The Military Committee of the Senate. 

THE year 1859 was an off year, but most of the 
contests in the States, North and South, were 
very earnest, as the two great parties, as they 
then stood before the country, viz.. Democrats and 
Opposition, fought desperately on the skirmish line 
of the great battle of i860 that made Lincoln 
President and brought the Republicans permanently 
into power. All of the Northern States which held 
elections in that year voted decisively against the 
Democratic party with the exception of California 
and Oregon. California was carried by the pro- 
slavery Democrats, then known as "Velvet Heads,'' 
one year before in a triangular fight, in which the 
regular Democratic candidate for Governor received 
62,255 votes to 31,298 for the Anti-LeCompton Demo- 
cratic candidate, and 10,110 for the Republicans. 
There was a practical fusion on Congressmen, the 
Anti-LeCompton Democrats and the Republicans 
supporting Congressman McKibben, Anti-LeCompton 
Democrat, and Colonel Baker, Republican, afterwards 
Senator from Oregon, and killed at Balls Bluff. It 
was in this contest that Broderick was overwhelm- 

Of Pennsylvania 351 

ingly defeated after having elected himself to the 
Senate, and the partisan bitterness, almost wholly 
sectional, was so intense that it was deliberately 
decided by several of the pro-slavery Democrats to 
challenge Broderick to duels until he should fall. 

Very soon after the election he was challenged by 
Judge Terry, and fell mortally wounded on the first 
fire, with McKibben by his side as second. It was 
the murder of Broderick more than any other cause 
that revolutionized the State and gave the electoral 
vote to Lincoln in i860. The only other Northern 
State that did not vote with the opposition in 1859 
was Oregon, and there the Democratic majority was 
only 39. New Jersey gave her first Democratic defeat 
in that year by electing Olden Governor by 1,601 
majority, and Minnesota came into the Republican 
line by electing Ramsey Governor by 3,752. A few 
Northern States that then held biennial sessions of the 
Legislature, such as Indiana and Illinois, held no gen- 
eral elections in 1859, but the activities of the great 
skirmish battles for the great contest of i860 left the 
Democratic party with but two Northern States, away 
on the Pacific slope, as the only places where their 
standard had been unfurled to tell of victories. 

While the Democrats suffered a sweeping defeat 
in the North the opposition in the South made great 
inroads against the Democracy. Maryland's State 
officers were all of the opposition; North Carolina 
gave but 6,000 Democratic majority, and the opposi- 
tion had half the delegation to Congress; Georgia 
elected a Democratic Governor by only 405 majority; 
Virginia elected Letcher, Democrat, for Governor by 
5,500 and had five opposition Congressmen; Tennes- 
see elected Harris, Democrat, for Governor by 800, 
and had seven opposition Congressmen to three Demo- 
crats; Kentucky elected a Democratic Governor by 

35^ Old Time Notes 

g,ooo, but the opposition had just half the Congress- 
men; Texas defeated the Democratic candidate for 
Governor and elected Senator Houston, Independent 
American, by 3,700. 

It was well imderstood when the political campaign 
of 1859 opened that the varied shades of opposition 
to the Democratic party and its policy embraced an 
overwhelming majority of the American people. The 
Republicans of the North, who had the distinctive 
Republican banner boldly imfurled in all the Northern 
States excepting Pennsylvania and Indiana, were 
entirely confident that they could win the Presidency 
if they maintained their victories of 1858 in the off 
year of 1859 The great tritmiph achieved by the 
People's party in Pennsylvania by the election of 
supreme judge and canal commissioner in 1858 by 
nearly 30,000 majority, not only inspired the varied 
shades of opposition in this State to very earnest 
political activity, but also taught the supreme neces- 
sity for the greatest discretion and sagacity in direct- 
ing the opposition forces, which were not wholly 
homegeneous, and holding them thoroughly imited 
in 1859 to assure the State for the Republicans in i860. 

The People's State convention was called early in 
the year, and it brought out an assembly of repre- 
sentative political leaders, who inquired only how they 
could best assure success. I was in the several con- 
ferences held before the convention met, and had 
any one attempted to advance individual or factional 
interests at the expense of party harmony, he would 
have been practically voiceless in the convention. 
There were plenty of delegates who looked to the 
advancement of individuals in the future, but they well 
understood that the great principle of the convention 
was to hold closely united the opposition, and crystal- 
lize it for the National battle of the following year. 

<^^^nt*^ (b. ^If^l-rl-tf' 

• • • « 


Of Pennsylvania 353 

There were two State offices to be filled, and the can- 
didates were chosen after the most careful delibera- 
tion. It was a convention that would have driven 
from its fellowship any candidates importtmately 
seeking individual success; and, although the import- 
ant offices of auditor general and surveyor general 
were to be filled, no man was discussed for either 
position outside of the very sincere and exhaustive 
deliberation in the conferences held to search for the 
most available men for the places to be filled. Thomas 
E, Cochran, of York, an old line Whig, and a man of 
great ability and the highest personal character, was 
selected as the candidate for auditor general, and 
General Keim, of Berks, who had carried that county 
for Congress at the special election of the year before 
to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of 
J. Glancey Jones, who had been appointed to the 
Austrian mission after his defeat by John Schwartz, 
was generally agreed upon as the best man for sur- 
veyor general. The ticket was nominated with hearty 
unanimity, and the convention adjourned with the con- 
viction imiversally accepted that no interests of 
individual ambition looking to future achievement 
should be entertained within the party. 

Thus the bitter strife between Cameron and Curtin 
that had its origin in the contest for Senator in 1855, 
and the many confficting ideas and aims between the 
old line Whigs, the old Know Nothings, the Anti-Le- 
Compton Democrats and the aggressive Republicans 
were harmonized by postponing all differences for 
future arbitrament, and the battle was thus made 
hopeless for the Democrats from the start. The 
Kansas irritation was continued by the earnest oppo- 
sition to the National administration and the slave 
power. While there was an overwhelming Free State 
majority of the people in that territory, the issue of 

354 Old Time Notes 

slavery extension was forced upon the people by the 
Democratic administration and the leaders of that 
party, and that catised continued agitation and steadily 
weakened the Democracy. There were no State 
issues on which the Democrats could make a hopeful 
stand. Packer, the Democratic Governor of the 
State, did not conceal his lack of sympathy with the 
slave policy of the party, and Surveyor General Rowe, 
who had been elected surveyor general three years 
before, and was unanimously nominated in 1859 for 
re-election, with difficulty kept from the public his 
conviction that his party was fatally wrong on the 
great issue that then convulsed the nation. He 
accepted the nomination of his party, however, and 
went down with it in defeat; but when the South 
precipitated civil war to maintain slavery, Rowe 
was one of the first of the Democrats of the southern 
border to take an aggressive stand in support of the 
war, and in the fall of 1861 he was unanimously 
nominated by the Republicans as a War Democrat 
for the Legislature, was elected by a large majority 
and made speaker of the house by the Republicans 
and War Democrats. His son, D. Watson Rowe, 
then a promising young lawyer just admitted to the 
bar, also abandoned his Democratic faith, and has 
since served with conspicuous ability twenty years as 
the Republican president judge of the district. 

The Democrats made a very earnest struggle to 
redeem the State from the disaster of 1858. They 
had very able leaders, and they made exhaustive 
efforts to bring the Anti-LeCompton Democrats back 
into the support of the State ticket, but the opposi- 
tion was thoroughly united and Cochran and Keim, 
the People's candidates, were elected by 18,000 ma- 
jority with an opposition majority of nearly 2 to i in 
both branches of the Legislature. Of the eleven 

Of Pennsylvania 35 S 

senators chosen the Democrats carried only one in 
the Cumberland, Perry and Juniata district. The 
senate stood 21 opposition to 12 Democrats, and 
the house 67 opposition to 33 Democrats. This 
restdt was notice to the leaders of both sides that 
anything approaching a imited opposition would 
defeat the Democrats for Gk)vemor and President 
in i860. 

The senatorial district in which I resided was nor- 
mally Democratic by several himdred. A Democratic 
senator had been elected in the old district, consist- 
ing of Franklin and Adams, but under the new appor- 
tionment Fulton was added to the district with 300 
to 400 Democratic majority to assure Democratic 
ascendency under all conditions. When I was forced 
most reluctantly to be a candidate for re-election to 
the house in 1858 I announced in the most positive 
terms that I would retire from legislative or other 
public duties at the end of that term to give my whole 
time to professional labors. When the opposition 
began to look aroimd for candidates in 1859 I was 
very earnestly appealed to from all the three counties 
of the district to accept the nomination for senator, 
but every such appeal brought out only a peremptory 
reftisal to accept. As I had twice been nominated 
for the house in the face of equally peremptory 
refusals, they seemed to assume that I could not refuse 
a nomination for senator if imanimously tendered, 
and the conference met in my own town, within sight 
of my own office, imanimously nominated me for 
senator, and adjourned and dispersed without having 
any communication whatever with me. They assiuned 
that if they had notified me of the nomination it would 
have been refused, and they took the responsibility 
of nominating me and adjourning without day. 

There was a reasonable prospect that, by exhaustive 

356 Old Time Notes 

effort and a very costly campaign in entirely legiti- 
mate expenditures, I could win, but I was jtist on the 
threshold of a professional career to which I expected 
to devote my life, and I could neither afford the labor 
and cost of the campaign, nor to take from my pro- 
fession the time and interest necessary to serve as a 
legislator and take an active part in poUtics. The 
method of campaigning in those days was at times 
costly to individual candidates. No such thing as 
campaign funds for coimty and district committees 
had been heard of. The candidate who fought the 
battle relied entirely upon his own resources. The 
corruption of voters was with very rare exceptions 
unknown in those days, but to win the senatorship 
required the holding of public meetings in every 
district at the expense of the candidate, the employ- 
ment of men to reach every individual voter in each 
district, and personal visits of the candidate to all 
who could be reached. 

Some idea of the political methods of that day may 
be acquired when I state that after having canvassed 
Franklin County twice for the house and once for 
the senate I knew the name, residence and occupa- 
tion of every voter in the county; I knew the exact 
shade of his politics, but I did not know a single 
instance in any of those counties in which a man was 
directly paid for his vote. Doubtless some of indif- 
ferent political faith were influenced by the purchase 
of tax receipts and other of the ordinary methods 
which are deemed legitimate in political contests, 
but the corruption of voters and fraudulent returns 
were then practically tmknown in nearly if not quite 
all of the rural districts of the State. Sorely against 
all my wishes and fixed purposes, as I had supposed, 
I cotdd not decline the contest put upon me without 
being exposed to the imputation of ingratitude to the 

Of Pennsylvania 357 

people who had twice given me such exceptional 
expressions of confidence. The Democrats nominated 
J. W. Douglas, a respected member of the Chambers- 
burg bar ^d an ag^ssive champion of the old line 

The contest for senator in that district was one of 
unusual desperation, and I well understood that it 
could not be won except by reaching every individual 
voter whose vote was doubtful. The Democratic 
organ of Chambersburg aided me very greatly by 
publishing a series of most defamatory articles, charg- 
ing me with legislative corruption. When the articles 
became sufficiently bold to take definite shape in the 
grave accusations, I arrested the editor and pub- 
lisher, and as the regular session of the court was to 
be held soon thereafter, I had them indicted, appeared 
in court and demanded trial before the election, stat- 
ing that if the accusations were proven I would deserve 
to be defeated; but the defendants demanded post- 
ponement and pleaded for it on the ground that the 
witnesses were scattered over the State and they 
could not be prepared to try. Although it was evi- 
dent that they could not try the case, and did not 
mean to try it, they brought themselves within the 
rule of the court and a continuance was authorized, 
although they certainly could have been prepared 
to try if they had the evidence obtainable anywhere 
in the State to sustain their case. There was no 
other court imtil some time after the election, and as 
I was successftd by over 400 majority, the case was 
finally nol pressed with satisfactory retraction of the 
charges made in the editorial columns of the paper. 

Not only did this defamation aid me very greatly 
when my accusers refused to try the case when I 
challenged them in open court, but it brought out a 
Qonsiderjibje number of Dimkard non-voters to 916, 

3s8 Old Time Notes 

me. I lived just outside of the town on a farm and 
was surrounded by a Dunkard farming community. 
Their standard of manhood is good, neighborly acts, 
but their religion, while not mandatory, taught them 
to refuse participation in politics, and until 1864 they 
generally abstained from voting. A National meet- 
ing of the sect was held in Waynesboro, my own 
cotmty, in 1864, at which it was known that the 
question of releasing the membership from the obli- 
gation of refraining from participation in politics was 
to be considered. Lincoln was then a candidate for 
re-election, and the Dimkards very generally approved 
of Lincoln's policy, although earnestly averse to war. 
Gk)vemor Ciutin visited the National meeting, and 
was very heartily welcomed. He was in general 
confidence with the leading men of the Church and 
aided very much in bringing them to the deliverance 
they made, allowing each one to be guided by his own 
conscience in the matter of political efforts. 

The Dimkards had a church on an farm adjoining 
mine, and at a Simday meeting, some three weeks 
before the senatorial election, they discussed the 
defamatory publications made against their neighbor 
McClure, and expressed their earnest disapproval. 
Some one suggested that it might be a neighborly 
duty for them to go to the election and vote for the 
single office of senator, and after some discussion 
the matter was postponed until the following Simday, 
when, after very grave deliberation, they decided 
that they should attend the election and vote only 
for the office of senator. Thus a number of the 
Dimkards in my own immediate neighborhood and 
some others throughout the county who were influ- 
enced by their action, attended the election and voted 
only for me for senator. How bitterly the senatorial 
battle was fought may be known when it is stated 

of Pennsylvania 


that without any pretense of wrong the vote cast for 
senator was larger than that ever cast for President 
in the district, and I was elected by over 400 majority. 
That election practically changed my career from 
the legal profession to poUtics and joumaUsm, as war 
came soon after I entered the senate, with the people 
of my own district exposed on the southern frontier, 
and public duties practically isolated me from my 
profession. When the committees were being arranged, 
after I entered the senate in January, i860, I was 
given an entirely satisfactory share of important 
positions, but there were a niunber of committees 
which never met, among them being the miUtary 
committee. The Pennsylvania miUtia had degener- 
ated into worse than farce, with the exception of a few 
uniformed volimteer companies, and there was not 
even a record of the committee's proceedings in the 
senate ; but the committees had to be filled, and when 
they came to the military committee the inquiry was 
made: "Who in the senate has a military title?" 
and as I happened to be the only one with the title of 
colonel, given me as a member of Governor Johnston's 
staif , who commissioned me the day I was twenty-one 
years old, I was made chairman of that committee 
that was never called during the session ; but one year 
later it became the most important committee of the 
body, and I held it until I retired from the senate. 

360 Old Time Notes 


Brown's Invasion of Virginia was Planned in Chamber sbtirg — He was 
known as Dr. Smith, Engaged in Organizing Mining Operations in 
Virginia — His Identity not Suspected by Any — ^The Author Writes 
the Will of One of Brown's Soldiers — Startling Announcement of 
Brown's Attack at Harper's Ferry October 16, 1859 — ^The Full List 
of Brown's Associates — ^The Capture of Captain Cook — How His 
Escape was Prevented — Interesting Incidents in the Efforts to 
Enable Him to Get Out of the Chambersburg Jail. 

THE John Brown raid on Harper's Ferry was 
one of the most startling and tragic events 
in the history of the Pennsylvania border, 
and it was as unexpected as a thunderbolt from an 
imclouded sky. In the midsummer of 1859 a tall, 
spare, plainly-clad and heavily-bearded man appeared 
in Chambersburg, and engaged boarding with a widow 
who lived quietly away from the center of the town. 
He gave his name as Dr. Smith, and annotmced that 
his purpose was the organization of a considerable 
force for mining operations in the State of Virginia. 
He remained there for six weeks or more, and became 
known by sight at least to most of the people of the 
village, but was exceedingly modest in seeking inter- 
course with those arotind him. The post office was 
next door to my law office, and the afternoon mail 
arrived about four o'clock, bringing the daily papers 
from the East, and it was common for a crowd of a 
dozen or more to gather waiting for their papers and 

Among those who appeared frequently to watch 
for the arrival of the train was Dr. Smith. He made 

• *-••• 

• * 
• « « 

* t • • 

Of Pennsylvania 361 

few acquaintances, and rarely conversed with any 
except when conversation was opened by another. I 
saw him many times, and on several occasions con- 
versed with him, never doubting that he was a quiet 
business man who decided to develop the mineral 
wealth of Western Virginia. I am quite sure that not 
a single citizen of Chambersburg ever had reason to 
doubt Dr. Smith's identity. Occasionally, he had 
visitors at his quiet boarding house, but not in such 
numbers as to attract attention. His last visitor 
before his fatal movement upon Harper's Ferry was 
Frederick Douglas, the great colored leader, and his 
presence in Chambersburg was not known until after 
the battle at Harper's Ferry. He visited Brown just 
before the movement was made upon Harper's Ferry, 
and made exhaustive efforts to have Brown abandon 
the enterprise. Douglas afterwards gave me the full 
accotuit of that interview with Brown. He was not 
in sympathv with the movement, but was in very close 
relations with John Brown, and when he learned what 
Brown contemplated, he earnestly advised him against 
it, and when he found that Brown was about to start 
upon the expedition, he hurried to Chambersburg aiid 
spent a night with him in vain effort to have him 
abandon it. 

A day or two before the attack on Harper's Ferry, 
a young man came into my office and asked me to 
write his will. He was accompanied by a man whom 
he introduced as Mr. Henry, and gave his own name 
as Mr. Merriam. We retired to a private office, where 
I drew his will. He told me he was from Massachusetts, 
that he was going on a trip South, that accidents might 
happen in traveling, and he thought it prudent to 
make a disposition of his estate before starting. There 
was nothing in his movements or any of his expressions 
to indicate anything at all out of thp ordinary. Th^ 

362 Old Time Notes 

fact that he made the AboUtion Society of Massachu- 
setts his residuary legatee was not regarded as calling 
for inquiry into the plans or purposes of the testator. 
When I drew the will he signed his name, Francis J. 
Merriam, in a bold legible hand, and I inquired whether 
he would have his friend as one of the witnesses, but 
he said that he desired two witnesses from the office, 
as they could be found without difficulty if wanted. 
The man whom he introduced as Mr. Henry was J. 
Henri Kagi, who was among the killed at Harper's 
Ferry. The will was properly witnessed and mailed 
to the executor in Boston. 

Within a few days thereafter I discovered the name 
of Mr. Merriam in the list of Brown's little army that 
attacked Harper's Ferry, and he was one of the few 
who escaped. He worked his way through the South 
Mountain, reached Philadelphia, registered his correct 
name at the Merchants' Hotel, and went to his home 
in Boston. Whether an effort was made to have him 
returned for trial I am not advised, but he never was 

John Brown's entire force consisted of Brown and 
his three sons, Owen, Oliver and Watson; William 
and Adolphus Thompson, brothers of Henry Thomp- 
son, who was the husband of Brown's eldest daughter; 
John Henri Kagi, Aaron Dwight Stevens, John Edwin 
Cook, William H. Leeman, George Plummer Tidd, 
Jeremiah G. Anderson, Albert Hazelett, Stewart Tay- 
lor, Edwin and Barclay Coppock, and Francis J. 
Merriam, all of whom were white men, and Osborne P. 
Anderson, William Copeland, Lewis Sherrard Leary and 
Shields Green, colored. 

Brown had rented the Keimedy farm in Washington 
Coimty, Maryland, four miles from Harper's Ferry. 
It was isolated and of little value, as the rental was 
$35.00 a year. At. that place his consultations were 

Of Pennsylvania 363 

held, and his pikes and other implements of warfare, 
which had been forwarded ostensibly as mining tools, 
were stored. On Sunday morning, October 16, 1859, 
Brown had his entire force at the Kennedy farm, and 
they were all summoned to unusually early Sunday 
morning prayers. He read a chapter from the Bible, 
followed by a very fervent prayer for the deUverance 
of the slaves. Every man responded to his name at 
roll call. At ten o'clock the force was again assembled 
with Anderson, colored, in the chair, who read the 
constitution of the organization, and gave out detailed 
orders for the attack to be made that night. The 
story of the two days' battle, the loss of a number of 
lives, including several citizens, and the final capture 
of Brown and the remainder of his band by Colonel 
Robert E. Lee, who had been sent by the government 
to recover possession of the Harper's Ferry works, need 
not be repeated here. Of Brown's men, Oliver and 
Watson Brown, William and Adolphus Thompson, 
Kagi, Leeman, Taylor, Leary and Jeremiah Anderson 
were killed in the battle; Owen Brown, Cook, Tidd, 
Coppock, Merriam, Hazelett and Osborne P. Anderson 
escaped. Of these. Cook and Hazelett were captured 
and executed with Stevens Coppock and the others. 
Brown was severely wounded. 

Oliver Brown, Coppock, Tidd and Anderson escaped 
into the South Mountain together, but had to move 
very slowly on account of the severe woimds of Brown 
and one or two of the others. They reached Cham- 
bersburg a week or more after they had gotten into the 
mountain, and were hidden for several days in a forest 
near the town, where they were fed and had medical 
assistance. Mr. Deal, who afterwards filled the position 
of postmaster under Lincoln, was in communication 
with the imdergroimd railway organization of the 
State, and learned from Dr, Rutherford, of Harris- 

364 Old Time Notes 

burg, the best method of getting fugitives to the home 
of the Browns in Crawford County. As soon as they 
were able to travel they moved northward, traveling 
only at night, crossed the Juniata at Bell 's Mills, and 
were piloted and cared for by the underground agents 
until they reached Crawford Coimty, where Brown 
remained imdisturbed, although his presence there 
was well known. Morrow B. Lowery, a very active 
agent of the imdergroimd road, met them soon after 
they crossed the Juniata, and personally accompanied 
them to Crawford, where he resided. Why no effort was 
made to arrest Brown's son I have never understood. 
One thousand dollars reward was offered by the State 
of Virginia for each of the fugitives, but no attempt was 
made to capture any others than Hazelett and Cook, 
and Hazelett was first captured believing him to be 
Cook, and that bltmder cost Cook his life, as will be 
seen later in the narrative. 

Captain Cook was altogether the most brilliant of 
John Brown's lieutenants. He had fought through the 
Kansas war when the Missouri border ruffians, as they 
were then called, had a price set upon his life, and he 
was completely infatuated with the idea of taking 
revenge upon the South by provoking negro insurrec- 
tion as the beginning of the extermination of slavery. 
There was great anxiety on the part of Virginia to 
accomplish the arrest of Cook, and he was arrested 
finally by walking right into the hands of the only 
man in Franklin County who would have attempted 
to capture him. That man was Dan Logan, a most 
accomplished nattiral detective, who had many times 
arrested fugitive slaves, and who was constantly 
advised of all rewards offered for slaves or fugitives 
from the South, as they very often took refuge in South 
Mountain, where Logan lived. A man of great self 
possession and courage, he well knew that Cook would 

Of Pennsylvania 365 

prefer death to surrender, so he captured him by 

Cook had been several days in the South Mountain, 
and was greatly in need of food. In his search for 
some hamlet in the mountains where he could obtain 
bread and meat, he suddenly emerged on a ntmiber of 
workmen employed at the Hughes Furnace, where 
Cleggett FitzHugh, a Southern man, was manager, 
and Dan Logan was in conversation with FitzHugh 
at the time that Cook appeared not many yards dis- 
tant. The moment Logan saw Cook he recognized 
him, as he had a full description of him, and Cook's 
imique personality made it impossible to err. He 
was under meditim size, skin as soft as a woman's, 
and his deep blue eyes and wealth of blond hair made 
it easy to identify him. Cook stopped short when he 
saw he was in the immediate presence of a large num- 
ber of men, but he was feeble from starvation, and 
knowing that he would be pursued, he walked boldly 
up to FitzHugh and Logan and said that he was 
hunting in the mountains, and desired to get some 
bread and bacon. Logan, without showing any emo- 
tion whatever, told him that he would take him to his 
store, although Logan had no store, and supply him 
with all the food he desired. 

Cook was thrown entirely off his guard, and walked 
along between the two men. At a signal from Logan, 
each grasped Cook by the wrist and he was helpless. 
His identity was clearly established by his commission, 
which was in his pocket, and his powder flask, on which 
his name was blown. Cook was disarmed, and in his 
feeble condition Logan knew that he could not escape. 
He put him in a buggy without tying his hands or 
feet, and started immediately for Chambersburg, some 
eight or ten miles distant. On the way Cook attempted 
to negotiate for his escape. He asked Logan what 

366 Old Time Notes 

reward had been offered, to which Logan answered, 
a thousand dollars. In answer to Cook's question, 
whether Logan wanted him to be hung, Logan answered 
that he did not ; if the reward was paid he would deliver 
him to any person he would name. Cook told him that 
the reward could be readily arranged, as he was the 
brother-in-law of Governor Willard, of Indiana, and 
had another brother-in-law, a rich merchant, in Brook- 
lyn. Cook had told Logan the truth about his rela- 
tions to Governor Willard, as Mrs. Willard was his 
sister, but Logan suspected that it was the begiiming 
of an effort to deceive him and let Cook get away 
without him receiving the reward. 

Finally Cook appealed to hm". to take him to some 
one in Chambersburg who might feel an interest in 
him with whom an arrangement might be made for 
the pa5mient of the reward. I had just been elected 
to the senate a few weeks before, and Logan had very 
actively supported me in my several campaigns. He 
finally told Cook that he would take him to my office, 
and that if I told him to go home he would go and ask 
no questions. They arrived in town near sunset, and 
Logan at once sent to my office, house and other 
places where I might be found, but I had gone that 
evening to look at some suburban lots with a view of 
purchasing a cow pasture, and on my way home at 
the extreme end of the town, where they never thought 
of looking for me, I stopped at a little store where a 
number of friends had gathered who had been very 
active with me in the senatorial fight just recently closed, 
and I chatted with them for an hour. 

Soon after dark I walked down the street on my way 
home, and in passing the office of Squire Reisher I 
found quite a crowd assembled, and stopped to inquire 
what it meant. Some one told me that Captain Cook 
had been captured, and was there before the justice. 

Of Pennsylvania 367 

I went inside, but as soon as Logan saw me he took me 
to one side, and begged of me to get Cook away, as he 
did not want the responsibility of having a man hung. 
He told me that he had hunted for me, and now 
regretted that he had arrested Cook. I went in and 
Logan introduced me to Cook, and I told the justice 
that Captain Cook would waive a hearing and he should 
remand him to prison, which was done. I went with 
him to the prison, and Cook was faint and nervous, 
but game to the limit. I found myself in the rather 
delicate position of being counsel for a prisoner whose 
escape I wanted to effect, and at the same time was 
coimsel for the sheriff whose duty it was to prevent him 
from escaping. 

I did not apprehend any serious difficulty in Cook 
escaping from prison if he could remain imtfi the next 
night, and so told him. We found that a requisition 
could not possibly be delivered to Chambersburg from 
Richmond to arrive any time the following day, and 
it was decided that he must remain in prison over 
night, when everything would be in readiness for his 
escape the following night. After the programme 
was arranged I talked with him for an hour on his 
wonderful exploits in Kansas, and found him a man of 
fine culture, rare intelligence, but keenly emotional. 
I did not doubt that he would escape the following 
night, and said to him that if he escaped this time he 
must cease his reckless revolutionary methods against 
slavery. His face at once flushed and he jumped up, 
declaring that as long as God gave him life he would 
battle to the death against the men who held the 
slaves in bonds. 

Soon after nine o'clock I left him, telling him to be 
qtiiet, as he would hear in due time as to how he might 
escape on the following night. I went to J. Allison 
Eyster, then one of the commissioners of the coimty. 

368 Old Time Notes 

and asked him whether the man was living who had 
built the jail. He said he was, and then one of the 
oldest citizens. We went together to call upon the 
builder, told him we wanted to know where a prisoner 
should be placed to best get out of jail. He gave us 
minute instructions as to the best method of making 
the escape, and I started for home, confident that on 
the following night Cook would be free. 

When I reached my residence and entered the 
library, I fotmd Mrs. McClure and Miss Riley, daughter 
of the Democratic Congressman of our town, a very 
intimate associate of Mrs. McClure 's, and later known 
in Philadelphia as Mrs. Rev. Thos. X. Orr, waiting for 
me; and both were clad ready for the street with a 
considerable bundle on the floor beside them. When 
I asked what it meant, Mrs. McClure informed me that 
they had decided to visit Captain Cook in the jail, as 
the sheriff would not refuse Mrs. McClure admittance, 
and after remaining for some time, they intended to 
use the contents of their btmdle in dressing Cook in 
female apparel, when one of them would walk out of 
the jail with him, and the other remain in the cell. 
Both were women of unusual earnestness of purpose 
and heartily sympathized with the Free State people 
in the bloody Kansas struggle, and there was no doubt 
that they could have carried out their plan, as they 
would not have been closely scrutinized by the sheriff. 

I at once explained that a requisition could not be 
obtained for Captain Cook from Virginia until the 
second day, and that the arrangements were all com- 
pleted for his escape from prison on the following night. 
They both earnestly protested against the delay, and 
insisted upon making the venture, as they were appre- 
hensive that Cook would not escape as had been 
planned. I had finally to be peremptory in forbidding 
their visit to the jail, and with tears in their eyes they 

Of Pennsylvania 369 

said they would abandon it. Their apprehensions 
were fearfully verified, as at eleven o'clock the next 
morning an officer appeared at the jail with a requisi- 
tion from the Governor of Virginia, and Cook was 
remanded to the gibbet at Charlestown. 

Hazelett had been arrested near Shippensburg the 
week before, and when arrested he was supposed to 
be Captain Cook, as he partially answered Cook's 
description. He was taken to Carlisle, and the author- 
ities at Richmond were notified that Cook was a prisoner 
there. A requisition was promptly forwarded for his 
rendition, and by the time it arrived his identity was 
discovered, and the requisition was lying there not 
more than an hour distant from Chambersburg by rail. 
Cook was taken to prison in Virginia, and the night 
before his execution he managed to escape from his 
cell and attained the outer wall of the prison, but, 
strange as it may seem for one of his courage, and 
knowing the doom that awaited him, he surrendered to 
the guard without requiring it to end his life there by 
the bullet. 

He seemed to have been strangely fated. Had I 
be m Li my office, at my home, or in any of my usual 
visiting places, when he arrived in town, Logan would 
have disappeared in ten minutes with absolute cer- 
tainty of his reward; and had I permitted Mrs. McClure 
and Miss Riley to execute their heroic plan for his 
escape, he would certainly have been out of the jail 
before midnight, but the decree of a different destiny 
was inexorable, and Cook, with his captive associates 
who had survived the conflict, paid the penalty of his 
lawlessness on the gallows. There was very general 
regret throughout the coimty that Cook had been cap- 
tured and executed, and the man who most keenly 
regretted it was Dan Logan, who had captured him 
in the South Mountain. 


370 Old Time Notes 

The John Brown raid was the maddest of all mad 
attempts ever made in a revolutionary enterprise. 
Brown and Cook, while different in almost every chief 
attribute of character, except in their sincere and 
intense hatred of slavery, were hopeless fanatics in 
their revengeful policy against the slaveholders. They 
had faced the rifles for several years of the ** Missouri 
ruffians, " who attempted to force slavery into Kansas, 
and they had often hidden for weeks or months when a 
large price was offered for their capture dead or alive, 
and all their instincts and feelings seem to have been 
centered in the desire to avenge their wrongs by revolu- 
tionary and bloody emancipation of slavery. John 
Brown was as sincerely and severely a religionist as 
any of the many millions of the land, and he organized, 
attempted to execute, and went through the whole 
Harper's Ferry tragedy, firmly believing that he was 
obeying the commands of his Creator ; and Cook, while 
less zealous as a religionist, was fully persuaded that 
it was his duty to bring about the release of the bonds- 
men in the cotmtry. They were not wild, hap-hazard 
buccaneers, but their deep convictions, intensified by 
long and bloody sacrifice, made them organize the raid 
on Harper's Ferry, believing that a slave rebellion 
would speedily follow. 

The entire country was profoimdly impressed by the 
Brown tragedy at Harper's Ferry. A decided majority 
of the Northern people, including a very large element 
of the Democratic party, had no sympathy with the 
warfare waged in Kansas to force slavery into that 
State, and all confessed that the movement was as 
lawless as it was visionary and hopeless. Had Henry 
A. Wise, then Governor of Virginia, taken the advice 
of the cool-headed leaders of the North, such as Fer- 
nando Wood and others, he would have commuted 
their punishment to imprisonment for life on the 

Of Pennsylvania 371 

groimd that they were simply madmen. Wood and 
others earnestly urged them to do so, as it would have 
been a declaration from the South that the Harper's 
Ferry tragedy was only the creation of a score of mad- 
men ; but Wise summoned the militia in grand martial 
array, and made the execution of Brown and his fellows 
one of the great events of Virginia history. Even the 
sober sense of the South revolted at Wise 's ostentatious 
exhibition of the authority of a great Commonwealth 
in dealing with a few desperate fanatics, and he thus 
alienated the sympathy of the North and largely the 
respect of the South. Thaddeus Stevens was then in 
Congress, and when Congress assembled a few weeks 
after the Harper's Ferry tragedy, some of the Southern 
fire-eaters haughtily criticised Stevens by pointing to 
the logical fruits of his revolutionary teaching. He 
answered only as the grim old Commoner could answer. 
He said, ** John Brown deserved to be hung for being a 
hopeless fool. He attempted to capture Virginia with 
seventeen men when he ought to have known that it 
would require at least twenty-five.*' 

None then had any conception of the immortality 
that was to attach to the name of John Brown. Within 
less than two years, overwhelming armies were in battle 
array in the Southern States, and from the first dis- 
aster of Bull Run until the final surrender at Appomat- 
tox, every Confederate force that met their brethren 
of the North on the battlefield heard the song of 
**John Brown's body lies moulding in the grave, but 
his soul goes marching on;" and to-day his modest 
grave in Northwestern Pennsylvania is visited by the 
lovers of liberty with a reverence for his memory that 
few even of the grandest of our chieftains have com- 

372 Old Time Notes 


Titian J. Coffee, State Senator from Indiana County, the Leader in Liber- 
alizing Our Laws of Evidence — Several Times Defeated, but Finally 
Won — Career of Glenni W. Schofield — Coffee's Unfortunate Removal 
to Washington — Interesting Law Relating to Inheritance — ^The 
Married Woman's Act — Gibson's Blunt Reversal of Lewis* Poetic 
Decision — ^The Battle for Free Schools — Defeat of Ner Middles- 
werth for Signing the Bill as Speaker when He Earnestly Opposed 
and Voted Against It — ^The Free School System Vitalized and 
made Progressive under Curtin as Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

AN important change in the common law relating 
to evidence was accomplished just before i860, 
by which parties to stdts could become wit- 
nesses in their own behalf, but under very severe 
restrictions. Prior to that time the old common law 
rule prevailed forbidding any person from testifying 
in his or her own case. The author of this important 
reform was Titian J. Coffee, then a senator from 
Indiana County, and one of the ablest lawyers of 
the State. He was a man of marked ability and a 
very accomplished trial lawyer. When he first entered 
the senate he introduced a measure proposing to liber- 
alize the law of evidence, but he was not supported 
by a single lawyer in the body. He persisted in it, 
however, and pressed it with increased vigor during 
his second session, when he was supported by the 
venerable Senator Wilkins, of Allegheny, who had 
ripe experience as a lawyer, and had been United 
States Senator, Secretary of War and Minister to 
Russia. Coffee was finally enabled to carry through 
both branches of the Legislature a measure that 

Of Pennsylvania 373 

simply opened the door to the present broad and 
just extension of the principle that permits all suitors, 
or defendants in criminal cases, to testify in their own 
behalf, excepting only where the party of opposing 
interest is dead. 

While serving in the house I had become intimately 
acquainted with Coffee and earnestly enlisted in sup- 
port of his reform, and it would startle the profession 
of the present day to learn what formidable opposi- 
tion had to be overcome to separate our system of 
evidence from the old common law restriction which 
often defeated justice. It was one of the bravest 
battles ever made in our Legislature, as Coffee stood 
almost alone when he began the struggle. Able lawyers 
like James P. Penny, of Allegheny, and Glenni W. 
Schofield, of Warren, had entered the senate after 
Coffee had blazed the way through the wilderness of 
legal prejudice, and came to his support along with 
Wilkins. They were all men of much more than ordi- 
nary ability in the legal profession. 

Schofield had a remarkable political career. He 
was a delegate in the Democratic State convention 
in March, 1856, and voted for the nomination of 
Buchanan for President, but after the Cincinnati 
convention had nominated Buchanan and adopted a 
radical pro-slavery platform, Schofield bolted over to 
the support of Fremont, was nominated by the Repub- 
licans for senator and elected the same fall that 
Buchanan was chosen President. When he retired 
from the senate he was sent to Congress, where he 
served with distinction twelve years, and later served 
as a judge on the court of claims, a position that he 
held at his death. Penny was the law partner of the 
late Chief Justice Sterrett, and after Coffee had retired 
he was accepted during his entire term of service in 
the senate as the oracle of the body in solving legal 

374 Old Time Notes 

propositions. He was chairman of the commission 
that framed the new criminal code adopted early in the 
60 's, and I well remember when it was before the 
senate for consideration and final passage by its title, 
without being read in the body. Of coiirse, it had 
been printed and examined by the lawyers of the 
senate, but if ever a question of doubt arose, the con- 
fidence in Penny was so general that his judgment 
was accepted. 

Coffee would have had a greater career in Penn- 
sylvania if he had not been unexpectedly diverted 
to Washington. When he retired from the senate he 
formed a partnership with ex-Representative Pur- 
viance to engage in the practice of law in Pittsburg, 
where he would certainly have been eminently success- 
ful as a lawyer. Coffee had studied law with Edward 
Bates, of Missouri, and when Bates was called to the 
Lincoln cabinet as Attorney General he tendered to 
Coffee the position of Assistant Attorney General, 
which he accepted. He thus gradually became severed 
from his political associations in Pennsylvania and 
lived for many years in retirement imtil his death at 
an advanced age. When Curtin accepted the Russian 
mission Coffee accompanied him as secretary, but 
beyond that he neither sought nor held any public 
position. I have always regarded his elimination from 
Pennsylvania politics as an equal misfortune to him- 
self and to the State. 

He was a man of stem integrity in public and 
private life and would certainly have stood in the fore- 
front of the bar of Pennsylvania. He was one of the 
original and among the most effective supporters of 
Curtin 's nomination for Governor in i860, and would 
have been in the floodtide of political favor had he 
remained in the State. The fascination of Washing- 
ton life has cut off many distinguished and useful 

Of Pennsylvania 375 

careers, and among them was that of Titian J. Coffee. 
He was a nephew of the original Judge White, of 
Indiana, father of the present Judge White, of that 
district, and was altogether the most potent political 
leader of that section of the State. 

While Senator Coffee won out in breaking through 
the old common law relating to evidence, he did little 
more at first than to lay the foundation for our present 
beneficent system of evidence that gives the greatest 
possible latitude for the courts to ascertain the justice 
of the cause. Contrary to the general prejudice of 
the bar, the innovation met with very positive and 
popular approval, and it was not difficult to speedily 
perfect the system by gradual advancement in legisla- 
tion until our present Pennsylvania system of evidence 
is as perfect in the interest of justice as it could be made. 

Another measure that was at first very generally 
resisted by the profession, passed the Legislature about 
the same period after having been proposed and earn- 
estly championed by the venerable Judge Wilkins and 
defeated in the first effort. A case in one of the western 
coimties of the State attracted not only the attention 
of the profession, but was very generally discussed 
and gravely considered by intelligent laymen of the 
State. A man in reasonably well-to-do circumstances 
among the frugal rural citizens of that day was fur- 
nished a child by his wife only some four or five months 
after their marriage. The husband disowned the 
paternity and the wife confessed her perfidy and gave 
the name of the actual father. The husband was 
devotedly attached to his wife and finally decided to 
forgive the crime and accept the child as his own. He 
lived for many years and died, leaving a considerable 
estate, and a number of children survived him, includ- 
ing the first bom. 

The question was raised on the distribution of the 

376 Old Time Notes 

estate that the oldest child was not entitled to inherit. 
It was not disputed by any who were informed on the 
subject that the child was not begotten by the putative 
father. The only one able to establish the fact was 
the mother, and ^e was held by the court as an incom- 
petent witness in the case. Justice Ejiox, of the 
supreme court, delivered a very powerful dissenting 
opinion, and the case was very generally discussed 
throughout the State, not only by the profession, but 
by the more intelligent public generally. Judge 
Wilkins became very warmly enlisted in the case of 
children bom and reared tmder such circumstances, 
and after suffering several defeats he finally succeeded 
in passing a law that yet remains upon our statute 
books, providing that any child bom in wedlock, 
regardless of the circumstances of birth, should inherit 
the estate of the hiisband, unless the illegitimacy was 
established by the hiisband himself by divorce or other 
definite legal proceedings, and it also legitimatizes the 
children bom of any immarried woman as the legal 
heirs of the person who may marry such a woman. 
Strong as was the opposition to the passage of this 
eminently just law, no effort has ever been made to 
repeal it, and it has long been tmiversally accepted as 
entirely just. 

The decade closing with i860 brought many troubles 
into our jtuisprudence arising from the first enactment 
of what was known as the married woman's act of 
1 848. That was the first effort of Pennsylvania author- 
ity to release women under coverture from the harsh 
and disgraceful limitations put upon the natural rights 
of the weaker sex. The subject of releasing married 
women from these limitations agitated the Legislature 
of the State for a number of years, but finally in 1848 
a law was passed releasing wives from the oppressive 
obligations imposed by the common law, under which 


"^ •• • 

■ •< • • 

-• • 
« • 

• > • « 
* • • • • 

Of Pennsylvania 377 

she had no control of her person, her property, her 
earnings or her children, save in extreme exceptional 

In 185 1, three years after the passage of the married 
woman's act, a new supreme coiirt was elected, and 
only two of the five members of the old court were 
chosen. Judge Lewis was one of the new justices, 
and he had made a very positive record in the common 
pleas court of Lancaster in supporting the rights of 
married women, having set aside the will of a resident 
who willed his entire estate, during life or widowhood, 
to his wife, when the estate should be distributed 
to the other heirs. The widow accepted under the 
law, but a few years thereafter changed her mind and 
again married, and the heirs proceeded to recover the 
estate, but Judge Lewis held the will to be in restraint 
of marriage and against public policy and therefore 
void. The supreme court reversed him by an opinion 
from Chief Justice Gibson, in language quite as pungent 
as Lewis' opinion was poetic. Judge Lewis' opinion, as 
it appears in the law reports, declared that all animated 
nature, from the mountain kalmia to the fructifying 
lily of the plain, obeyed the primeval command to 
increase and multiply, and the will was therefore void, 
and Chief Justice Gibson reversed Lewis with the 
rugged and incisive argtiment that a man should be 
permitted to give his whole estate to the support and 
comfort of his widow so long as she depended upon his 
estate, without making his bed a nest to hatch a brood 
of strangers to his blood. 

Judge Lewis entered the supreme judicial tribunal of 
the State not only intensely interested in the rights 
of married women, but smarting tmder the rebuke 
administered to him by the court of last resort, and he 
very soon had a majority of the court in S3rmpathy 
with his general views. The result was that for several 

378 Old Time Notes 

years thereafter married women were generaUy success- 
fill before the supreme court in battling for their 
rights tmder the act of 1848, and step by step the court 
had advanced in favor of married women, tmtil finally 
Mrs. Ritter sued Mr. Ritter, her husband, in the Perry 
Coimty court, for money had and received, and Judge 
Graham, a judge eminently learned in the law, while not 
sympathizing with the general tenor of the supreme 
court decisions, declared that he must sustain the action 
because the teaching of the supreme court imposed it 
upon him as a judicial duty. The case was appealed 
to the supreme court after Lewis had retired, and Chief 
Justice Woodward delivered the opinion of the court, 
not only reversing Judge Graham, but generally 
reversing the policy of the court as to married women's 
rights, and he declared the act of 1 848 to be the result 
of the ''mistaken philanthropy'* of the Legislature. 

Thus the married women of Pennsylvania had a 
long season of abject servility under the laws of Penn- 
sylvania, followed by nearly a decade of extremely 
liberal rulings in their favor, and finally ending with 
the establishment of a rational and just policy, now 
well defined, that gives practical and substantial effect 
to all the reasonable rights of women under coverture. 

Strange as it may seem in this enlightened age, with 
Pennsylvania enjoying the most liberal educational 
policy of any State of the Union, the free school system 
was originally simply a crude, crippled and in some 
localities very generally decried system of free educa- 
tion of the children of the State. It had been passed 
by Thaddeus Stevens a quarter of a century before, 
but the public sentiment of the State was so over- 
whelmingly against it in many counties that it was 
impossible to make it a homogeneous and beneficent 
system. The same 3^ear that the law was passed, the 
people of the State elected a Legislature that was openly 

Of Pennsylvania 379 

and positively averse to free schools, and a bill repealing 
the entire system had reached a position of final passage 
in the house, when Stevens, the author of the original 
bill, delivered the most effective speech of his life, and 
doubtless one of the ablest and most eloquent, as it 
literally made the house take pause and defeat its own 
openly proclaimed purpose. For many years there- 
after, notably in the German counties of Berks, Lehigh 
and others, delegations were chosen to the Legislature 
on the distinct issue of **no free schools," and it was 
nearly or quite a generation after the passage of the 
original bill that the acceptance of the free schools 
of every district was made mandatory. 

The law as first enacted authorized any township to 
accept the free school system by the vote of the majority 
at the spring elections and put it into operation, but 
in some sections of the State there were entire counties 
Vn which there was not a single accepting district. I 
well remember, when a small boy, the special interest 
taken by my father and other Scotch-Irish residents 
of the township to have the free school system accepted. 
They called election after election from year to year, 
but suffered defeats for a decade or more, as the Ger- 
mans, as a rule, were bitterly opposed to enforced edu- 
cation. Although Governor Wolf, a distinct repre- 
sentative of the old German element of the State, with 
his home among the Germans of Northampton, had 
approved the school bill, a very small percentage of 
the Germans of the State supported it, and it cost him 
his re-election, as when he was nominated for a third 
term a large element of the Democrats bolted, nomi- 
nated Muhlenberg, of Berks, as a second Democratic 
candidate, and thus divided the Democratic vote and 
elected Ritner Governor. 

A more pointed illustration of the overwhelming 
prejudice of the Germans against the free school law 

380 Old Time Notes 

was given in the case of Ner Middleswerth. He was 
much the ablest of all the German leaders of the State 
and a political speaker of great ability, without any 
pretensions as to rhetorical attainments. He served 
more than twenty years in the senate and the house as 
a representative of Union Coimty, then embracing 
the present county of Snyder ; was speaker of the house 
several times, was the Whig candidate for canal com- 
missioner when Johnston ran for Governor in 185 1, 
was later elected to Congress and ended his public 
career at an advanced age as associate judge. Origi- 
nally a Democrat, he revolutionized his county as an 
Anti-Masonic leader, and after the disruption of the 
party acted with the WTiigs. He was si)eaker of the 
house when the free school bill was passed. His 
people were next to tmanimoiis in their opposition to 
it and he took special pains to make his record as clear 
as possible. He took the floor and spoke against the 
bill and voted against it at every stage, but when the 
bill was passed it was his official duty as speaker of 
the house to sign the certificate of its passage by that 

There were few newspapers among the people of 
that day, and especially among the Germans, and the 
constituents of Middleswerth generally understood 
that he had made very earnest opposition to the bill, 
with which they were entirely content, and he was 
tmanimously nominated for election to another term 
without a visible ripple on the political surface. All 
went along smoothly until some time in midsummer, 
when the pamphlet laws were distributed. At that 
time the pamphlet laws were printed by the State in 
English and German and a copy was furnished to each 
justice of the peace in the language he preferred. In 
Union County the German copies of the laws reached 
the German justices of the peace and they were 

Of Pennsylvania 381 

astotinded to find that Middleswerth's name was signed 
to the school law. The information created an immedi- 
ate and sweeping revulsion in the county, and a ctmning 
and unscrupulous man named Yeager annotmced him- 
self as a candidate against Middleswerth on the ground 
that no man should be elected who had signed the free 
school law. 

Middleswerth at first assumed that it was a mere 
tempest in a teapot and he went around among his 
people with the House Joimial, showing that he had 
voted against the bill, but he could not show that he 
had spoken against it, as there was then no " Legisla- 
tive Record.*' His competitor had immense mass 
meetings of the inflamed Germans to hear him, and he 
simply held up the Dutch pamphlet laws opened at 
where '* Ner Middleswerth ' ' was signed to the law. He 
declared that no man who was opposed to the free 
school law could have signed the measure as he did. 
It was impossible for Middleswerth to bring the tide 
to an ebb, and he was largely defeated, although he 
had made exhaustive efforts to defeat the school bill, 
but had simply performed a duty that was absolutely 
mandatory upon the speaker to certify the passage 
of the bill by the house. If he had called some person 
to the chair and announced him as acting speaker, 
to serve long enough to sign the b^ in certification of 
its passage, he would have had no contest for re-elec- 
tion, but he had simply performed his duty, and he was 
compelled to suffer a year of humiliation and defeat 
that was accomplished by the persistent diffusion of 
falsehood among the people. Gradually they got to 
imderstand it and they gave Middleswerth his vindica- 
tion by sending him back a year later and keeping him 
in legislative service until a score or more years had 
crowned him with legislative honors. 

It was not until 1855, when Curtin became secretary 

382 Old Time Notes 

of the commonwealth under Governor Pollock, that 
any organized effort was made by the State govern- 
ment to extend and perfect the free school system of 
the State. There was then no department of educa- 
tion, and the school system was left in the hands of a 
clerk in Curtin's office. He simimoned Henry C. 
Hickok, whose memory will ever be green among the 
friends of education in Pennsylvania, made him 
deputy secretary of the commonwealth and the head 
of the school system. Hickok devoted himself exclu- 
sively and tirelessly to the advancement of our schools, 
in which he was heartily supported alike by Governor 
Pollock and Secretary Curtin, and then for the first 
time the school system of the State was brought into 
something like organization. The popular prejudices 
against the free schools had been slowly dying out and 
increased appropriations were made from year to year 
until it was regarded as safe to win the crowning vic- 
tory for free schools by making the acceptance of the 
system mandatory upon every d strict of the State. 
The approach to this grand consimmiation had been so 
gradual that it was finally effected without convulsion. 
How the State has advanced in her exceptional edu- 
cational system may be well understood by turning 
to the Constitution of 1874, only thirty years ago, in 
which will be found the provision that the appropriation 
for common schools shall thereafter not be less than 
$1,000,000 per annum. That was then regarded as a 
very liberal minimum for public education, but that 
command of the fundamental law was entirely needless, 
as is shown by the fact that at no time since the adop- 
tion of the Constitution did the Legislature accept the 
minimtmi, but always gave an increase from year to 
year, and it is now nearly or quite a decade since $5,000,- 
000 a year has been the lowest appropriation made 
for the education of the children of the State. Penn- 

Of Pennsylvania 


sylvania was not among the earliest advocates of free 
schools, but while her people are slow to innovation 
or advancement, they can be safely entrusted with 
fidelity to the educational and philanthropic claims 
made upon the Commonwealth, and to-day she stands 
out grandly among all her sister States in these richest 
jewels of governmental authority. 

384 Old Time Notes 


How the North and South Misunderstood Each Other — ^The Curtin- 
Cameron Feud — Interesting Episodes in Their Quarrel — Cameron 
Opposes Curtin for Governor— Cxirtin Opposes Cameron for Presi- 
dent — Both Nominated by the Same Convention — Cameron Com- 
pelled to Restore Curtin Delegates He had Taken from Him — 
Intense Bitterness Between Curtin and Cameron Wings of the 

THE year i860 came upon tis pregnant with the 
most momentous events of the centiiry . It dated 
the second great political revolution, and the 
third distinct epoch, in the history of the Republic. 
The Federal party came into power with Washington, 
and ruled during the twelve years of the two terms 
of Washington and one of the elder Adams, when 
Jefferson won the first substantial revolution in the 
politics of the nation. Jefferson's battle was against 
the illiberal Federal views, which demanded a gov- 
ernment of centralized power, while Jefferson battled 
for government of the people. The policy established 
by the Jefferson revolution ruled the country for 
sixty years. All of the Presidents during that time 
were not distinctly Democratic, as Adams, who was 
elected by the House in 1825, although nominated 
as a member of the then existing Republican party 
that later became the Democratic party, was drift- 
ing away from his old political affiliations and made 
an entirely independent administration. The two 
Whig Presidents — Harrison, elected in 1840, and 
Taylor, in 1848 — brought no material reversal of the 
general Democratic policy established by Jefferson in 



• •- 

- » • 

• •• • 

of Pennsylvania 385 

1800, that gave us the acquisition of Louisiana and 
all our Pacific and Southern extension of territory; 
but i860 brought a revolution that ended the Demo- 
cratic party as a ruling power of the nation. Two 
Democratic Presidents have been elected since i860, 
but, even with the strong personality of Cleveland 
in the Executive chair during two terms, no permanent 
change was made in the policy of the government. 

A decided political revolution was generally expected 
in i860, but none then dreamed that it would mean 
anything more than merely halting the extension of 
the slave power, and liberalizing the policy of the 
government in the support of free industries against 
the slave labor of the South. Had it been generally 
believed in i860 that the election of Lincoln would 
bring the bloodiest civil war of modem times, and 
the sudden and complete overthrow; of slavery at 
the point of the bayonet, it is doubtiful whether the 
popular vote of the coimtry would have invited such 
an appalling entertainment. The sectional feeling 
was greatly intensified by the earnest and constantly 
growing agitation that began with the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise in 1854 and had continued to 
convulse the coimtry by the desperate struggles over 
Kansas, with the battle for a free State then imsettled. 
The North believed that the South was more bom- 
bastic than earnest in the threat of provoking civil 
war for the protection of slavery, and the South 
believed that the Northern people were mere money- 
getters, ready to yield anything rather than accept 
fratricidal conflict. 

Had the North and the South justly imderstood 
each other, as they should have done when remember- 
ing the common heroism exhibited by Northern and 
Southern soldiers on every battlefield , there would 
have been no civil war. It was common in those 


386 Old Time Notes 

days to hear demagogues on the stump in the North 
declare that, in the event of secession, the women of 
the North would sweep away the bombastic South 
with their brooms, and like demagogues of the South 
told how, in the event of civil war, they would march 
to Boston and command their obedient slaves on 
Bimker Hill. How it was possible for the bravest 
and noblest people of the world thus to misimder- 
stand each other merely because of irritating sectional 
divisions, must be incomprehensible to any intelligent 
student of the present day. The people of the North 
and the South were of the same blood; they had the 
same proud traditions; their herosim and their gran- 
deur in field and fortmi had been established side by 
side in eveiy triumph, and only the madness of the 
fiercest passion could have made either section assimie 
that cowardice could be an attribute of the American 
people, North or South. The most fearful atone- 
ment was made for this strange misunderstanding of 
each other, and there is nothing in Grecian or Roman 
story that equals the heroism of the soldiers of the 
blue and the gray in four years of bloodiest conflict. 
The second victory of the opposition to democracy 
in Pennsylvania was achieved in the fall of 1859, and 
it was notice to all that Pennsylvania was debatable 
groimd for the great battle of i860, with chances 
largely in favor of another defeat for the Democracy. 
So earnest were the people in forcing the unity of 
political action by the various elements which were 
not in hearty sympathy with each other, that the 
leaders who were ambitious for promotion by the 
success of the new organization were compelled to 
avoid disturbing the tmity of the opposition forces 
by individual ambition, but as soon as the election 
of 1859 had reached a decided opposition victory, a 
host of candidates were suddenly sprung upon the 

of Pennsylvania 387 

new People's party for the office of Governor and 
United States Senator. 

Ciirtin and Cameron had become implacably es- 
tranged in their desperate contest for the Senatorship 
in 1855, and from that time imtil the close of their 
political careers they never met or exchanged the 
ordinary cotntesies of life except on ceremonial occa- 
sions. They became intensely embittered against 
each other in the three months' struggle for the Senator- 
ship five years before, and reconciliation, or even the 
restoration of the ordinary civilities of life, was made 
impossible by a personal reproach put upon Curtin by 
Cameron when he had several of his political friends 
about him in a convivial mood, during the heat of the 
Senatorial struggle. The only time that I ever knew 
Curtin and Cameron to meet in conference was the 
morning after Stmiter had surrendered, when Ctntin 
with myself, as chairman of the military committee of 
the senate, was stmimoned hastily to Washington to 
confer with the President, the Secretary of War and 
General Scott as to the action necessary for Penn- 
sylvania to take to meet the civil war that had been 
forced upon us. 

In the raising and furnishing of troops in Penn- 
sylvania many serious differences arose between Gov- 
ernor Ctntin and Secretary Cameron, as both were 
probably inclined to judge the actions of each other 
harshly. When such disputes became serious, Lin- 
coln invariably stmimoned me to Washington to confer 
with Cameron and himself on the subject, and in every 
instance the difficulties were adjusted and accepted 
by both Cameron and Curtin. My relations with 
Cameron were always personally pleasant, and while 
he was very earnestly opposed to me politically as a 
close and ardent friend of Curtin, he had confidence 
that I would always fulfill any obligations which I 

388 Old Time Notes 

assumed, Cameron embarrassed Ctartin very seri- 
ously on several occasions by giving special authority 
to favorites to raise regiments in Pennsylvania. 
Armed with the authority of the War Department, 
with all necessary expenses paid, the prospective col- 
onel would locate in Philadelphia, or some section of 
the State, to raise a regiment, and as a rule they did 
not make much progress. Indeed, some of them 
were not in haste to fill their regiment and get into 
the field, as they were enjoying a good time and were 
well paid while on recruiting duty. A number of 
such embryo regiments were located in different parts 
of Pennsylvania when a requisition was made upon 
the State for additional troops, and Curtin, always 
prompt in response to the call of the government, at 
once declared his purpose to consolidate the various 
embryo regiments, appoint the officers and make them 
part of the quota. 

In this Curtin was entirely warranted by the Con- 
stitution and the laws, as his right was absolute to 
appoint the officers of regiments. He communi- 
cated with the Secretary of War, officially annoimc- 
ing his right and his duty and asking the Secretary 
to issue his order to the recruiting colonels he had 
authorized, to consolidate their regiments tmder the 
direction of the Governor, but Cameron promptly 
and positively refused. Curtin and Attorney General 
Meredith went over the case very carefully, resulting 
in Meredith drawing an order to be signed by the 
Secretary of War, directing the consolidation of the 
regiments tmder the authority of the Governor, and I 
was requested to take the order to Cameron, then 
visiting his home at Lochiel, and explain why his 
signature was a necessity. Assuming that he would 
promptly refuse to sign the order, Mr. Meredith pre- 
pared for Curtin a letter to the President, stating the 

Of Pennsylvania 389 

Governor's right under the Constitution and the laws 
of the State, and demanding that they should be 
respected by the National government, as it was the 
only way in which he coiild be relieved of painful 
embarrassment and grave obstacles in filling the 
quota of the State. My instructions were to present 
the order to Cameron at his home, and if he refused 
to sign it to take a train that night to Washington and 
present the letter and order to the President. 

I reached Cameron's home in the evening some 
time after dark, and, as usual, was received with 
courtesy. I presented the order to him, and before 
he had time to read it, I explained the Gk)vemor's 
rights, which Cameron doubtless knew, and urged 
him to harmonize the effort to fill our quota by sign- 
ing the order. He read it carefully and deliberated 
for some time, when he finally answered that he would 
refuse to sign the order. He insisted that he was 
trying to aid the Governor in furnishing troops from 
Pennsylvania, and that to sign the order would be to 
confess that he had exceeded his authority in a maimer 
injtirious to the service, by granting permission to 
various persons to organize regiments. He gave his 
answer very courteously and expressed his regret 
that there should be any difficulty between the State 
Executive and the War Department in such a crisis. 

I took the order, placed it in my pocket, and, while 
putting on my overcoat, I remarked that I regretted 
his refusal to sign the paper, not only because it opened 
an tmpleasant issue between him and the Governor, 
but because I was compelled to proceed to Washing- 
ton that night to deliver the order and a letter in my 
possession to the President, explaining the situation 
and demanding the revocation of the Secretary's 
order as a matter of right to the Governor. 

Cameron evidently knew that a letter from Curtin 

390 Old Time Notes 

to Lincoln defining the Governor's rights and duties 
which were absolutely undisputed could have but one 
result. He asked me to sit down and talk the matter 
over. We had a very earnest, frank, but always kind 
and courteous discussion of the question for some 
time. I told Cameron that the President could do no 
less than direct him to issue the order, and it would 
make public a political scandal that would weaken 
the power of the State in furnishing troops, and I 
appealed to him not only for his own sake, but for the 
interests of the State, to end the dispute there by 
signing the order. He asked me to give it to him 
again, and when I did so he signed it promptly with- 
out any exhibition of tmkinchiess toward Curtin or 
any others, and handed it back to me. This act of 
Cameron removed a multitude of troubles which had 
grown up in the State in organizing and furnishing 
troops. The dispute between the Governor and the 
Secretary of War had been wisely withheld from the 
public, and the order of the Secretary directing the 
consolidation of the various embryo regiments was 
made public by the Governor as though it were the 
voluntary act of the War Department, and thereafter 
no attempt was made to encroach upon the prerog- 
atives of the State Executive. 

Curtin was the logical candidate for Governor of the 
opposition that was imited tmder the People's party 
flag. He was known as altogether the most effective 
popular campaigner in the State, and he had exhibited 
great administrative ability as secretary of the com- 
monwealth imder Pollock, especially in the advance- 
ment of our free school system. He was a man of 
the most genial and fascinating manners, and was 
the special favorite of the younger element of the 
party. Cameron was intensely hostile to him, and 
§^w that tmless he played a bold hand with reasonable 

Of Pennsylvania 391 

success, Ctirtin would be nominated and elected as 
Governor and be strongly entrenched in the citadel 
of power of the new political organization. While, 
as a rule, the followers of Cameron and Curt in shared 
the prejudices of the chiefs, there were a number of 
men, and some of them quite prominent in political 
power, who supported Curtin for Governor as the most 
available of the candidates presented, but who were 
personally and politically friendly to Cameron as well. 
They were ready to serve Cameron in any movement 
for his own advancement, but imwilling to desert 
Curtin in doing so. 

Cameron was one of the most sagacious political 
leaders of his day, and was heroic in effort when he 
had decided upon his plan of operation. He knew 
that he could not be nominated for President, as in 
the poHtical conditions then existing he was simply 
an impossible candidate, but as he would be without 
a competitor for the Presidency in Pennsylvania, he 
decided to make an aggressive battle ostensibly for 
the Presidential nomination. He was formally an- 
noimced as a candidate for the Presidency by his 
friends, and a very active campaign made to secure 
his endorsement by the State convention that was to 
nominate a candidate for Governor. It was a masterly 
movement on the part of Cameron, regardless of its 
utter hopelessness. It gave him a strong position in 
which to wield his power against the nomination of 
Curtin, and it would also give him special prominence 
for cabinet or other National honors if the Republi- 
cans elected the President. The Cameron campaign 
was pressed as Cameron always pressed his battles, 
persistently and methodically, and some time before 
the convention met it was generally conceded that 
Cameron would receive a decided majority in the 
convention for President, and that Ctirtin would be 

392 Old Time Notes 

nominated for Governor. In point of fact, in a con- 
vention of 133 members, Cameron had about eighty 
who were ready to support him for President, and 
Curtin had about a like ntmiber who were ready to 
support him for Governor, and yet Cameron and Ctntin 
both played to the limit in hostility to each other. 

There were two prominent competitors of Curtin 
in the contest for Governor. They were John Covode, 
of Westmoreland, and David Taggart, of Northum- 
berland. Cameron shrewdly planned to divide the 
party as much as possible by multiplying candidates 
for Governor, and Covode and Taggart were regarded 
as the two men, one of whom would ultimately be 
chosen, on whom to tmite the opposition to Ciirtin. 
Thomas M. Howe, a highly respected Congressman 
from Allegheny, was brought into the field to divert 
the strength of Curtin, as was Levi Kline, of Lebanon, 
but the man upon whom Cameron intended ultimately 
to imite the opposition forces was Covode, and he was 
altogether the strongest of the opposing candidates. 

Covode attained great distinction as a political 
leader. He was a man of rare sagacity, strong natural 
intellectual force, with little culture and rather inclined 
to take pride in his crude ways and expressions. He 
was elected to Congress in the Westmoreland Demo- 
cratic district by the Know Nothing whirl of 1854, 
and early became a very aggressive leader in opposi- 
tion to the slave power that was seeking to force 
slavery into Kansas and Nebraska; was elected to his 
fourth consecutive term in the popular branch of 
Congress, and he was chairman of the committee 
that went to Kansas and investigated the efforts 
that had been made to overthrow the rule of the bona 
fide residents. He was an expert in knowing how 
to develop all the bad political phases of the move- 
ment against free Kansas, and with a man of Repre- 

Of Pennsylvania 393 

sentative Howard's ability and accomplishments to 
write a report, Covode's presentation of the wrongs 
of Kansas became the political text-book of the 
Republican party. He was a man of tireless energy, 
clean personal record, a master student of human 
nature and was one of the most skillful of all our 
prominent men in managing a campaign for himself. 
He retired from Congress in 1863, but did not abate 
his interest in politics. He was sent south by Presi- 
dent Johnson in 1865 to aid in Johnson's reconstruc- 
tion, but Covode soon rebelled against it and retired. 
He was renominated for Congress in 1868 and was 
elected, and in 1870 made his final political battle 
for Congress against Henry D. Foster, the ablest 
Democrat of the district, and was successful. 

Covode was a man of liberal means, a most tireless 
worker, personally popular, and Cameron confidently 
cotmted upon his ability to give Covode sufficient 
support in the State convention to nominate him for 
Governor. Taggart had been elected to the State 
senate in 1854 in the Northumberland and Dauphin 
district, but bitterly opposed Cameron's election to 
the Senate in 1855. Cameron resented this opposi- 
tion of his own immediate senator by severely retaliat- 
ing upon Taggart and his family, taking from them 
the control of the Northumberland BaiJc that gave 
a livelihood to Taggart 's father and increased his own 
revenues as attorney for the bank. 

A few years later Taggart decided that Cameron 
was a dangerous enemy, and they reconciled their 
differences upon terms which Taggart confidently 
believed would bring Cameron to his support for 
Governor, He did not asstime that Cameron was 
pledged to support him, but he did not doubt that 
he would be the Cameron candidate in the end. He 
Ijicked the strength and some important personal 

394 Old Time Notes 

qualities possessed by Covode, and Cameron in the 
end logically concentrated his strength in the strongest 
candidate, and had Cameron not been caught by 
Curtin's friends in the convention in a position much 
like that of Hooker's bull, who was fast on the fence 
and could neither hock in front nor kick behind, it is 
quite possible that Covode would have been nomi- 

There were fully eighty men in the convention who 
were positively pledged or instructed for Curtin and 
sixty-seven were a majority, but by the time the 
convention met the friends of Curtin discovered that 
half a dozen or more of the men positively pledged to 
support him had been switched off to Covode, and 
among them Colonel Gehr, my fellow-delegate from 
Franklin, who was one of the very few known Cameron 
men in that section, and whose election I had aided 
to accomplish simply to demonstrate that Cameron's 
friends would not be ostracised. He was sincerely 
for Curtin and positively pledged to him, but I learned 
the night before the convention met that he was 
pledged to support Covode, as were McConkey, of 
York, and Haines, of Perry, two additional Cameron 
delegates, who were pledged to Ctntin and elected 
for the same reason that had given me a Cameron 
associate from Franklin. Nearly the whole of the 
night before the meeting of the convention was devoted 
by Curtin 's friends to getting his stragglers into line, 
but when the convention met the next day we were 
in grave doubt as to our ability to hold a majority 
for Curtin. 

Forttmately Cameron pressed his nomination for 
the Presidency as the first duty of the body. It was 
an unusually able assembly with Governor Pollock 
in the chair, and such able anti-Cameron representa- 
tives as Tom Marshall, of Allegheny, and District 

of Pennsylvania 395 

Attorney Mann, of Philadelphia, while Schofield, of 
Warren, a man of unusual ability, championed the 
Cameron cause and stood with heroic fidelity in sup- 
port of Curt in. A resolution was offered nominating 
General Cameron for the Presidency, and instructing 
the delegates-at-large to support him in the national 
convention. No other name was presented, and the 
delegates were compelled to vote directly for or against 
conferring the honor upon Cameron. Protracted and 
somewhat acrimonious debate was had upon the 
resolution, in which Tom Marshall, one of the ablest 
and most fearless of the Western Republicans, de- 
noimced Cameron tmsparingly as a Presidential can- 
didate, and declared that he could go out any dark 
night and grab fifty men who were better fitted for 
the position than Cameron. 

Schofield ably supported Cameron, and sought to 
pour oil on the troubled waters, while Senator Mimmia, 
who represented Cameron's home cotmty, took the 
laboring oar of managing the Cameron side and de- 
fended his cause with great earnestness. When the 
vote was finally taken, forty-four of us voted squarely 
against the adoption of the resolution, and about 
eighty voted for Cameron, with a few who did not 

Cameron shrewdly sought to temper the opposition 
somewhat by proposing David Wilmot and Thaddeus 
Stevens, neither of whom was for Cameron, as two 
of the four delegates-at-large. He relied upon them 
obeying their instructions, which they did, but neither 
attempted to advance Cameron's nomination at Chi- 
cago. The question then arose as to how the district 
delegates should be chosen. As Cameron was weak 
with the Republican people in the State, I made a 
blind stroke to call him to a halt on the Curtin issue 
by offering a resolution providing that the district 

396 Old Time Notes 

delegates should be chosen by the people of their 
respective districts and not by the convention, and 
to my stirprise, after I had spoken briefly in support 
of the motion, Mumma followed with a motion to 
adjourn imtil the next morning. Although coming 
from a Cameron leader, I was very glad to accept it, 
and the convention adjourned, neither side knowing 
precisely where it stood, and the Curtin men did not 
know how weak the Cameron men were on the question 
of selecting a Cameron delegation by the convention. 

Very early in the evening Alexander Cummings, 
then editor of the Philadelphia "Evening Bulletin," 
and ex-Senator Haldeman, of York, both very earnest 
Cameron men, sent for me to meet them in a private 
room in the same hotel where I was sta)nng. I joined 
them at once, and they informed me that they had 
come to effect a compromise on the question of elect- 
ing the district delegates to the National convention. 
I asked them why they did not defeat my resolution 
that was still pending before the convention, and they 
frankly informed me that they had not done so because 
they had not votes enough. They said: — 

** You want Curtin for Governor, we want Cameron 
for President, and we are here, with the knowledge and 
by the advice of Cameron himself, to adjust the diffi- 
culty on the basis of giving Curtin the nomination for 
Governor. ' ' 

I told them that as they had come from Cameron 
I certainly must confer with Curtin before I could 
propose to accept any definite proposition, and we 
adjourned for an hour. I immediately hastened to 
Curtin 's room, locked the door, told him of the situa- 
tion and asked him to go over the list of delegates 
and ascertain how many men we had who could be 
relied upon xmder all circimistances to support him. 
We found the names of sixty-five on the list who 

Of Pennsylvania 397 

cotild be relied- upon to stand by Ctirtin, and I pro- 
posed that the negotiations with Cameron's repre- 
sentatives should require them to return to us ten 
delegates who had been elected for Curtin, but who 
had been taken from us by Cameron. I suggested 
to Curtin, as a compromise proposition, that I should 
agree to modify my resolution to authorize the dele- 
gates in the convention from any congressional dis- 
trict to decide for themselves whether they would 
name delegates to be chosen by the convention, or 
whether they would refer the choice of district delegates 
back to the people, to which Curtin agreed. 

I met Cummings and Hallman soon thereafter and 
gave them my ultimatum, viz., first, that they should 
return to Ciutin ten delegates originally chosen for 
him, each of whom I named, who must come to Curtin 
personally and pledge their support to him, and that 
if that were done at once I would move to modify my 
resolution as Curtin had agreed to it. I named among 
the delegates to be returned to Curtin my own asso- 
ciate and others, who, like him, had been honestly 
committed to Ctntin, but were taken from him by the 
power of Cameron. They were quite willing to give 
us the ten delegates or even more, as they meant the 
adjustment to involve the nomination of Curtin, but 
begged to be excused from compelling the men they 
had taken from us to return to their allegiance to 
Curtin. I peremptorily refused, and they finally 
assented, and every one of the delegates named came 
in person and pledged himself to Curtin before mid- 

They accepted the other proposition very willingly 
as to the district delegates, but insisted that I should 
give the example of electing the delegates from my 
own district. It would have been difficult then to 
find two men in my district fitted for the position of 

398 Old Time Notes 

National delegate who were friendly to Cameron, but 
I finally agreed to elect delegates and to send two 
men of high position, neither of whom was friendly 
to Cameron, but whom I pledged to vote with the 

It is quite possible that Curtin might have been 
defeated, but for this halt in the Cameron programme 
that enabled Curtin 's friends to make reprisals. When 
the convention met the next morning Judge Hale, of 
Bellefonte, Curtin 's immediate representative, offered 
a compromise resolution as an amendment to mine, 
as had been arranged, and it was promptly accepted 
by Mr. Mimima and myself and imanimously adopted. 
Curtin *s nomination followed on the second ballot 


when he received seventy-four votes to twenty-seven 
for Covode, sixteen for Taggart, ten for Howe and a 
dozen scattering. Such is the story of the inner 
history of Curtin *s nomination for Governor. 

Of Pennsylvania 399 



The Author made Chairman of the People's State Committee — Rhode 
Island and Philadelphia Falter at the Opening of the Battle — 
How Lincoln was Nominated at Chicago— Curtin and Lane the 
Important Factors in Defeating Seward — Pennsylvania Delega- 
tion a motley Combination — The Vote for President in the Con- 
vention — Sanderson's Contract with Davis for a Cabinet Position 
for Cameron — Cameron's Efforts to Control the State Committee 
over its Chairman Defeated at Cresson. 

THE People's State convention of i860 adjotimed 
after embittered struggles on the nominations 
for both President and Governor and presented 
candidates for those important offices who were not 
only not in sympathy with each other, but actually 
not on speaking terms; and while the majority of 
the supporters of Curtin were resolutely determined 
not to aid the nomination of Cameron for President, 
Cameron and his closer friends earnestly hoped for 
and confidently expected the defeat of Curtin. The 
National conventions of the great parties were two 
months distant ; the disruption of the Democratic party, 
with two Presidential candidates, was not then antici- 
pated, and the apparently assured nomination of Seward 
by the Republicans wotild have made Ciutin's election 
next to impossible by alienating the entire Know Noth- 
ing or American element from the People's organization. 
While upon the surface there was apparently a strong 
tide against the Democracy, all who intelligently under- 
stood the situation well knew that very great, and 
possibly insuperable, obstacles stood in the way of the 

400 Old Time Notes 

success of the opposition to Democracy, but half a 
dozen prominent men in the People's party became 
candidates for the position of chairman of the State 
committee. The fact that a man desired the position 
was very strong evidence against his fitness for it, as it 
involved a task that no one who well understood the 
situation and the labor and responsibilities to be 
assumed would have sought. I was then still cherish- 
ing the hope that after the Curtin contest I could escape 
exacting political duties and devote myself to my long 
neglected profession, and went home from the conven- 
tion without any knowledge whatever that I was to be 
charged with the responsible management of the cam- 
paign. Curtin had spoken to me on the subject after 
the convention adjourned. He named the men who 
were pressing for the place, and in an apparently casual 
way asked me whether I would accept it, to which I 
gave a peremptory refusal. 

I heard nothing further on the subject until some 
two weeks later, when I received notice from Curtin 
that, after very careful consideration of the subject with 
Governor Pollock, who was president of the convention, 
and had the power of appointing, I had been selected 
as chairman of the People's State committee and must 
accept. I answered by an appeal to Curtin to change 
the selection of chairman before any public annoimce- 
ment was made, but he informed me that the compli- 
cations and necessities were such that a change could 
not be considered and that I must accept the responsi- 
ble direction of the contest. 

Cameron had made an earnest effort to have a Cam- 
eron-Curtin man placed at the head of the organization 
and, although Pollock was in that class lumself, he 
assumed that as Curtin was to fight the great battle of 
Pennsylvania his wishes should prevail in choosing the 

of Pennsylvania 401 

Until then I had given little attention to the per- 
sonnel of the State committee that had been selected 
by the senatorial delegations in the State convention, 
and when I came to a careful analysis of it I discovered 
that a majority of the members were followers of Cam- 
eron, who could be relied upon to co-operate with me 
in advancing Curtin *s interests only to whatever extent 
Cameron approved. Viewing the general situation on 
both sides, I saw nothing but perplexity and threatening 
perils, but my relations with Curtin compelled me to 
accept the task with its consequences. 

Two important preliminary elections were to be held 
before the meeting of the National convention. One 
was the State election in Rhode Island to be held in 
April, and the other was the municipal election in Phil- 
adelphia to be held in May, and both were regarded as 
important finger-boards in the National contest. I 
immediately got into communication with Governor 
Morgan, of New York, who was chairman of the Repub- 
lican National committee appointed in the Fremont 
campaign ; the importance of the Rhode Island election 
was carefully considered and he gave me the assurance 
that the Republican organization there would be 
cordially aided to any extent necessary to assure 
success, but Sprague, the richest man in the State, 
who had accepted the Democratic nomination for 
Governor, flooded the State with money, and the first 
gtin of the Lincoln campaign of i860 gave us the shock 
of a Democratic victory in a Republican State, thus 
adding to the many clouds which himg over the Re- 
pubUcan horizon. 

I then devoted myself to the Philadelphia contest 
for mayor. Henry was a candidate for re-election, 
opposed by ex-Congressman Robbins, with the Demo- 
crats thoroughly united and very earnest in the effort 
to win control of the city. I had little knowledge of 


402 Old Time Notes 

the inner workings of Philadelphia politics, but soon 
learned some featiires of political warfare which I would 
be glad never to have known, and they came about 
equally from the worst elements of the Democracy 
tmder the lead of McMullen, and the worst elements 
of the People's party under the lead of Commissioner 
Neal. The only thing that I could assume to know 
about the Philadelplna contest, after getting a fair 
insight into it, was that no matter who was returned 
elected by any moderate majority I could never be 
sure as to who had really won in the fight. 

Mayor Henry, who is now very justly regarded as the 
model chief magistrate of Philadelphia, maintained the 
most consistent dignity throughout the contest and 
refused to permit his police to perform any political 
duty beyond voting. His chief of police was very 
liberal in his construction of the mayor's orders, and 
the police in a very quiet way rendered very impor- 
tant aid. 

On election night I was one of the very few who were 
admitted into the police electrical bureau, where the 
returns were received long before the public obtained 
them, and a complete return gave a majority of some 
1,500 for Robbins. I quietly retired to my room in 
the Girard House, supposing that another disaster had 
come upon us, but I was awakened about three o'clock 
in the morning by Colonel Mann and several others, who 
informed me that the official returns elected the entire 
Curtin city ticket, and the papers of the morning after 
the election all gave a majority of over 1,200 for Mayor 
Henry, with the rest of the ticket in doubt. 

On Friday when the return judges met to compute 
the vote the People's candidates all received certificates 
of election. The Democrats charged fraud, but no 
attempt was made to contest and I have never doubted 
that Mayor Henry was honestly re-elected, but I have 

Of Pennsylvania 403 

never been entirely certain that the honest computa- 
tion of the vote as it was found in the ballot-boxes 
would have given him a majority. He never knew of 
the original computation of the vote at the police 
headquarters, and had he ever been in doubt as to the 
integrity of his election he would not have held the 
position for an hour. 

Such was the tmpromising opening of the campaign 
of i860, with a party that was not at all homogeneous, 
the two candidates of the party in the State implacable 
foes, the Republican State of Rhode Island lost, and 
the important city of Philadelphia practically a drawn 
battle. The party whose battle I was to direct was 
without cohesive organization, and was made up of a 
loose aggregation of old line Whigs, radical Republi- 
cans, Americans or Know Nothings and anti-slavery 
Democrats, and I abandoned all attempt at organiza- 
tion tmtil after the Jtme National convention should 
name the candidates for President and Vice-President 
and give us a starting point. 

The first rift in the lute of Seward's omnipotence was 
given by Horace Greeley, who startled most of his 
readers and the Republicans generally throughout 
the coimtry by a series of articles presenting Seward's 
want of availability, and urging the nomination of 
Edward Bates, of Missouri, as the Republican candi- 
date for President. The New York "Tribtme" was 
then the most potential newspaper of the country, 
and exercised a greater influence than any other paper 
that has ever been established in the history of our 

It was not then known that Greeley had a personal 
grievance with Seward, and there was not the sem- 
blance of grievance in any of his editorials. They 
gave Seward full credit for his pre-eminent ability 
and leadership, but declared that he was unavailable, 

404 Old Time Notes 

as he cotild not command the support of the conserva- 
tive Whigs nor the Americans who were potent in the 
pivotal States. That was the first ray of hope that 
broke in upon the gloom that enveloped us in this 
State, as the nomination of Seward wotdd have precip- 
itated the immediate and aggressive rebellion of all 
the Americans, without whose support it was not 
possible for us to succeed. 

Lincoln was not then regarded as a hopeful candidate 
for President. Indeed, when his own State gave him 
a xmanimous nomination for the Presidency they had 
little hope of his success. Nearly one-half of the 
delegates chosen were positive friends of Seward, who 
were expected to give one or more complimentary 
votes for Lincoln and then transfer their votes to Sew- 
ard. The Republican leaders of the State did not 
appreciate the earnestness of the Republican people 
in support of Lincoln for President until the State con- 
vention met, and the climax of the expressions in favor 
of Lincoln was given when Hanks, who had made rails 
with Lincoln, came into the convention bearing upon 
his shoulders two rails which he had taken from a fence 
made of rails split by Lincoln and himself. There 
was a spontaneous uprising of the Republican people 
after the convention adjourned that encouraged the 
leaders to take a positive stand in favor of his nomina- 
tion. Until that time the most that they expected 
was that Lincoln would be taken for Vice-President 
along with Seward. 

In the meantime Curtin and I were in active corres- 
pondence with Henry S. Lane, who had been nominated 
as the Republican candidate for Governor in Indiana, 
and Representative John D. Defrees, who was chair- 
man of the Indiana State committee. Curtin and 
Lane had to rtm the political gauntlet at the October 
election, and upon their election depended the success 

Of Pennsylvania 405 

of a Republican President. Lane and Defrees with 
Curtin and myself knew that if Seward were nomi- 
nated, Pennsylvania and Indiana must inevitably be 
lost in October, and it was the positive convictions of 
Lane and Curtin expressed at the Chicago convention 
that made Seward's nomination impossible in a con- 
vention in which fully two-thirds of its members sin- 
cerely desired to make him the candidate for President. 

They were the two men of all whose judgment could 
be accepted as most considerate and intelligent in 
shaping the way to victory. Neither of them cared to 
serve friends or punish foes in the Presidential nomi- 
nation; all that they desired was that a candidate 
should be nominated who would strengthen, or at 
least not weaken, them in their battle for the control 
of their respective States, where victory for them 
meant victory for a Republican President. 

The Pennsylvania delegation was a motley combi- 
nation chiefly of Cameron-Curtin men and Curtin- 
Cameron men, embracing many who were earnestly 
opposed to Cameron, and a less number who felt quite 
willing to see Curtin defeated. About one-fourth of 
the delegates were earnestly in the fight for Cameron's 
nomination, another fourth were willing to accept 
Cameron's nomination with more or less doubts as to 
the wisdom of making it, and the other half, with 
two or three exceptions, were willing to give a compli- 
mentary vote to Cameron provided his nomination 
was not possible. All, however, desired to avoid 
factional contests in the delegation because of its 
possible effect on the State contest for Governor. 
The delegation had repeated conferences after its 
arrival at Chicago, in all of which Curtin and I were 
invited to participate without voting. After a day 
and night of struggle between the belligerents of the 
delegation, both maneuvering for advantage of posi- 

4o6 Old Time Notes 

tion, it was evident to all that Cameron's nomination 
was not within the range of possibility, and with the 
consent of the leaders of both sides the del^[ation was 
siimmoned to decide who among the available candi- 
dates should be preferred. 

The Indiana delegation had held a conference at 
which Lane and Etefrees were present, and tmani- 
mously resolved to support Lincoln. This had been 
done before the final conference of the Pennsylvania 

Before the meeting of the Pennsylvania delegates 
the anti-Cameron men had a conference and decided 
to propose to the delegation that its first, second and 
third choice for President shotild be declared. The 
first choice shotdd be Cameron by a unanimous vote, 
second choice should be Judge McLean, of Ohio, who 
was very earnestly championed by Stevens, but who 
was no more possible than Cameron, and the third 
choice, being the only choice of moment, to be Lincoln. 

When the delegation met this proposition was made 
and by consent Cameron was declared the first choice 
and McLean the second, but on the third choice the 
Cameron leaders decided to urge the selection of 
Bates, and Lincoln was declared the third choice of 
the delegation over Bates by about six majority. 
Every one understood that the third choice of Penn- 
sylvania was the only one that would command any 
interest outside of the delegation, and when it was 
announced that Pennsylvania had declared in favor of 
Lincoln, many thousands of Lincoln's followers who 
crowded Chicago made the streets echo with the cheers 
that followed the annotmcement that Pennsylvania 
was for Lincoln, and that action of the delegation 
decided the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for 

On the first ballot Cameron received a total vote of 

Of Pennsylvania 407 

50^, of which 47^ were given by Pennsylvania, with i 
from Virginia, i from Iowa, and i from Nebraska. 
The Lincoln feeling had been steadily growing, and 4 
of the Pennsylvania delegation broke to Lincobi on the 
first ballot with i^ to Seward and i for McLean. 

On the second ballot Pennsylvania gave 48 votes 
for Lincoln, with 2^ for Seward, i for Cameron and 2^ 
for McLean, Cameron receiving only 2 votes, viz., i 
from Pennsylvania and i from Virginia. 

On the third ballot Pennsylvania gave 52 votes to 
Lincoln and 2 for McLean, Cameron's name having 
been withdrawn. The vote on this ballot showed 
that Lincoln lacked only 2^ votes of a majority, and 
before the ballot ended Chairman Carter, of the Ohio 
delegation, arose and annotmced the change of 4 Ohio 
votes from Chase to Lincoln, which gave him the 
required majority. 

One of the many phases of pohtical dickering de- 
veloped in and around the Pennsylvania delegation 
was a shrewd movement made by John P. Sanderson, 
formerly senator from Lebanon, and later prominent 
as editor of the "Daily News,*' of Philadelphia. He 
was one of Cameron's confidential leaders, and as soon 
as the Pennsylvania delegation decided to accept 
Lincoln as third choice, that really meant its first 
choice, Sanderson obtained a conference with Leonard 
Swett and David Davis, who were the chief Lincoln 
managers of the convention, and proposed that Cam- 
eron should have the assurance of an appointment to 
the cabinet if the Pennsylvania delegation voted for 
Lincoln and Lincoln shoidd be elected President. 

This proposition was made by Sanderson at a time 
when there seemed to be a reasonable hope of Lincoln's 
nomination, and yet his battle was regarded as desper- 
ate, and they gave Sanderson the assurance that his 
demand was accepted and would be carried out. Lin- 

4o8 Old Time Notes 

coin had no knowledge of this agreement until he came 
to make up his cabinet before starting for Washington 
to be inaugurated, and he was not advised of it even 
at the time that be sent for Cameron to go to Spring- 
field and there gave him a written tender of a position 
in the cabinet, either as Secretary of the Treasury or 
Secretary of War. 

When it became known that Cameron had been 
tendered a position in the cabinet I was one of a num- 
ber to telegraph Lincoln protesting against it, and 
Lincoln teleg;raphed me to come to Sprii^eld at once. 
I did so, and had my first meeting with him, but left 
without any knowledge as to the effect of my protest. 
Upon referring to Nicolay and Hay's " Life of Lincoln," 
however, the correspondence between Lincoln and 
Cameron is given, showing that that night, after I had 
gone, Lincoln wrote Cameron revoking the appoint- 
ment and asking Cameron's declination, which Cameron 
refused to give. The matter was held imder advise- 
ment until Lincoln came to Washington, when Davis 
and Swett came to the support of Cameron on the 
ground that the promise had been given and should 
be fulfilled. Cameron was originally called to the 
cabinet by the President because he had decided to 
call to his cabinet every prominent competitor for the 
Presidential nomination, embracing Seward, Cameron, 
Chase and Bates. Seward also joined in pressing 
Cameron's appointment chiefly to punish Curtin for 
having defeated Seward's nomination at Chicago. 

Cameron's friends returned from the Chicago con- 
vention not greatly disappointed because they had no 
expectation of his nomination, and they felt asstired 
that if Lincoln should be elected, Cameron, who was 
then in the Senate and potent as a Senator, was likely 
to be more potent as a Cabinet officer. There was 
really no dissatisfaction among the Cameron men in 

Of Pennsylvania 409 

the support of Lincoln, but their hostility to Curtin, 
while somewhat tempered by new conditions, was very 
far from being obliterated. 

What Cameron most needed to serve his purposes 
was the control of the State organization, and my 
position as chairman was anything but satisfactory to 
him and his friends. They knew that they had the 
control of the State committee, and they quietly ar- 
ranged that at the first meeting of the committee they 
should assert their omnipotence by appointing an 
executive committee from the State committee to be 
practically charged with the control of the campaign, 
and a treasurer. This purpose was carefully mapped 
out, and would have been carried into effect and given 
them the absolute control of the State organization, 
leaving me merely an ornamental chairman, had not 
their plans miscarried by a roystering frolic at Cresson 
where the committee met, that was as carefully planned 
as were the designs of the Cameron people. 

Every friend of Curtin was there, and every one of 
the opposition was present also the evening before the 
committee was to meet, the hour being ten o 'clock on 
the following morning. Every Curtin man had been 
sworn to keep sober, but to join in the general frolic 
that night at Dr. Jackson's old hospital building, a 
little distance from the hotel. The programme was 
carried out with great precision, many of the Curtin 
men joined in the frolic, and the place overflowed with 
wine, with a dozen card tables adding to the interest 
of the entertainment. The result was that just about 
daylight they broke up to go to bed, but the Curtin 
men slept in their boots, and at ten o'clock every one 
of them responded to the roll-call, while more than a 
score of the others were missing. 

Curtin was present and had carefully mapped out his 
campaign in the State, We had several innocent 

41 o Old Time Notes 

resolutions ready declaring in favor of a thorough 
canvass of the State by Curtin, indorsing Lincoln and 
promising him the electoral vote, and denouncing the 
LeCompton policy of the Buchanan administration. 
Curtin 's program was submitted and promptly ap- 
proved; the resolutions were submitted and promptly 
passed, and after a session not exceeding fifteen min- 
utes in duration, on motion the committee adjourned 
to meet at the call of the chairman, and it never 
occurred to the chairman that another meeting of the 
committee was necessary. 

Many very earnest appeals were made to the chair- 
man by members of the committee to call another 
meeting at different stages of the contest, but they 
never impressed the chairman with the necessity of 
obedience, and as by the vote of the committee it 
could meet only at the call of the chairman, the chair- 
man conducted its operations without fiuther dis- 

Failing to get a meeting of the committee, a ntimber 
of the members, including Cameron himself, advised 
Lincoln that the action of the chairman was very 
arbitrary, and that the organization of the State was 
not being perfected as it should be. This very natur- 
ally alarmed Lincoln. He was in frequent commimi- 
cation with me from the time the committee opened 
its headquarters imtil the election, but he gave no 
indication to me at any time that anything should be 
done other than what was being done. Some time 
after midsimimer Leonard Swett and David Davis 
came to my headquarters as though they were simply 
calling to know how things were going generally, and 
everything that we were doing was at once opened to 
them, showing what had been done, what was planned 
to be done, and how it was to be done. 

We had no money, but, fortimately, had earnest 

Of Pennsylvania 411 

people in every election district who were willing to 
perform the political service without pay, and the 
committee was in direct commimication with thor- 
oughly competent and prompt and reliable men in every 
election district in the State, the first time that such 
an organization had been effected, and after having 
made a very exhaustive examination of the plan of 
the campaign and what had been done, they invited 
me to dine with them. I accepted, and while at dinner 
Swett said: 

"We can now tell you what we are here for." 

He then informed me that Lincoln had been written 
to by a number of people in the State complaining that 
the organization was imperfect and the management 
incompetent; that he could not be indifferent to such 
statements, and that he had sent them to make a per- 
sonal examination of the condition. To which Swett 
added : 

" We can give you the information now, as we shall 
report to Lincoln that it is the best organization that 
we have seen in any State.'* 

Lincoln's letters were much brighter in tone there- 
after than before, and when I sent him the last cotmt 
that was made of the State, carefully canvassed by 
faithful men in each election district, showing that Cur- 
tin's majority would be 17,000, regardless of doubtful 
votes, he wrote me that he was entirely satisfied that 
the victory was won in the pivotal State of the battle. 
The estimate was generously fulfilled, as Curtin's 
majority was over 32,000. 

412 Old Time Notes 


Difficulty of Obtaining Lincoln Headquarters in Philadelphia — Business 
Men Could not Allow a Lincoln Flag to be Attached to their Buildings 
— Financial and Business Interests Against Lincoln — Dr. Jayne's 
Generosity — Commissioner Neal's Novel Method of Getting Out a 
Flag — Organizing Discordant Elements an Appalling Task — 
Entire Expendittires of State Committee $12,000 — Seward Men 
and National Committee Refuse Aid to Pennsylvania — The Know 
Nothing Break Against Curtin — How $a,ooo had to be Obtained 
for the Campaign. 

LINCOLN was nominated on the i8th of May, and 
I hiirried home from the Chicago convention to 
devote a little time to business and professional 
aflFairs, as I knew that from the first of June imtil the 
election my time would be entirely engrossed with the 
campaign. The defeat of Seward at Chicago apparently 
assured us the continued co-operation of the Know 
Nothing or American element in the State, and, with 
the anti-Curtin Republicans anxious for the election 
of Lincoln, the contest assimied a very much more 
hopeful aspect. 

I came to Philadelphia on the first of June and 
engaged a single second-story back room in the Girard 
House as my home for the stunmer, and as my pres- 
ence there made the Girard practically the head- 
quarters of the party, I obtained my room and board at 
the very moderate price of ten dollars per week, which 
I paid out of my own pocket, as the committee never 
had any fimds to draw upon for personal expenses. 
From that time tmtil the November election I aban- 
doned all professional and other business duties, being 

of Pennsylvania 413 

unable to spare the time from campaign duties to 
attend the courts. 

I appointed George W. Hammersly chief secretary 
of the headquarters, who lived in the city and who 
imitated my example by working for nothing and 
finding himself. Colonel Mann, Charles S. Ogden 
and Charles M. Neal, then president of the board of 
cotmty commissioners, all members of the State com- 
mittee, agreed to act with me as an informal executive 
committee, and meet at headquarters for consulta- 
tion or action at any time required. 

The first important thing to be done was to estab- 
lish suitable campaign headquarters, and we decided 
that they should be as imposing as possible, and that 
the largest flag ever suspended in the city should float 
over Chestnut Street bearing the names of Lincoln, 
Hamlin and Curtin. It will probably startle many 
of the Republicans of the present day in Philadelphia, 
who assume that there is Uttle or nothing respectable 
in politics outside of Republicanism, to know that 
there was not a single business man on Chestnut 
Street between Third and Ninth who would permit 
a rope to be attached to his building across the street 
to bear the Lincoln flag. 

Colonel Mann and I spent three days visiting houses 
on Chestnut street to find a suitable location for the 
headquarters where a large Lincoln flag could be 
suspended over the street by attaching the rope to a 
building opposite. Some of our business people were 
Lincoln men, but they all, with one accord, began to 
make excuses when asked to permit a rope for a Lincoln 
flag to be attached to their building. Of all the lead- 
ing business houses in the city at that time I can 
recall but two that were willing to come to the front 
and openly contribute to aid Lincoln's election. 
They were the Quaker houses of Morris Hallowell & 

414 Old Time Notes 

Company, in the silk txade, and Ogden & Company, 
in the wholesale drug trade. Philadelphia merdiants 
had a vast preponderance of Southern trade, and they 
were unwilling to commit themselves in any public 
way to the support of Lincoln. 

The late A. J. Drexel, then a yotmg partner in his 
father's banking house, was the only prominent 
financial man who publicly supported Lincoln. He 
promptly contributed $ioo when first called upon 
at the opening of the campaign, and that was titien 
regarded as a very liberal contribution. Later he 
doubled it, and he stood on the records of the com- 
mittee as one of the most liberal of its supporters. 

We were compelled to abandon the idea of getting 
headquarters where we could suspend the immense 
flag contemplated by attaching a rope to a building 
on the opposite side of the street, and finally accepted 
the offer of Dr. Jayne, who was heartily in accord 
with the movement, to give us the entire Common- 
wealth Building on Chestnut Street above Sixth, 
excepting the first floor, where he then had an insur- 
ance company, at a rental of $2,000 for the three floors, 
embracing a hall on the upper story. I told him that 
I saw little prospect of being able to pay so large 
a rental, but he insisted that I should accept his offer, 
saying that he was not a hard landlord, and he more 
than vindicated the claim he thus made by giving me 
a receipt in full for the rent after the campaign closed 
without the payment of a dollar. 

We immediately took possession of the second 
floor of the building, gathered up a few second-hand 
desks and chairs, and settled down to the hard work 
of creating a party organization out of somewhat 
discordant elements and organizing it for battle. 
Colonel Mann was still determined upon having the 
Lincoln flag over Chestnut Street the largest that had 

of Pennsylvania 415 

ever floated in the city, and repeated efforts were 
made with the occupants of the three houses imme- 
diately opposite our headquarters to get permission 
to attach a rope to one of their buildings, but every 
appeal so made was promptly refused. 

Commissioner Neal, Colonel Mann and Mr. Ogden 
were at the headquarters every morning, and several 
days after we had taken possession of the new head- 
quarters, Mr. Neal, then president of the board of 
cotmty commissioners that then fixed the assessed 
valuation of property for taxable purposes, was stand- 
ing at the window for some time smoking a cigar and 
looking across the street. Finally he arose, took up 
his hat and started hastily from the room, saying that 
he would have the flag across that street or he would 
know why. He went to the commissioners' office, 
took up the assessment books, and doubled the valua- 
tion of the three buildings, any one of which was 
suitable for our purpose, and then foimd some trusted 
friend who was charged with the duty of informing 
the owners or occupants of the property of the increase 
in the valuation for taxes. 

At that time property was taxed very moderately, 
usually not at half its value, and it was entirely safe 
to impose a double tax valuation. There was very 
general depression in business, as the revulsion of 1857 
had produced paralysis in every channel of com- 
merce, industry and trade, and the notice of doubled 
taxation convulsed the property owners. They im- 
mediately appealed in person to President Neal of 
the commissioners' board, and he heard them with 
all the dignity of the Lord Chief Justice of England. 
When they had finished their appeal he quietly in- 
formed them that he would take their properties and 
pay them cash at the increased valuation he had put 
upon them. He said that the taxation of the city 

41 6 Old Time Notes 

was very unequal, and that the valuable properties 
were not paying anything like a fair share of taxation. 
None of them was willing to sell at the price named, 
and of cotirse they could offer no further argtiment 
for an abatement. They left the commissioners' office 
fully satisfied that they must be prepared to meet 
double taxation. 

Neal then selected some suitable person whom he 
could trust and who knew the parties well, and had 
him go and suggest that he thought he could arrange 
to have an abatement of the increased valuation. 
He also said in an apparently casual way that Neal 
was very anxious to have an immense Lincoln flag 
out on the street, and that he thought he could be 
greatly mollified if he were allowed to attach a rope 
to one of these buildings. The three parties had a 
conference, and they mutually agreed that the one 
of them who was likely to staffer the least from the 
imputation of abolitionism should agree to have 
the rope of the Lincoln flag attached to his building. 
That was commtmicated to Neal, who answered that 
if that were done he would give the matter early and 
very careful consideration. The result was that the 
rope spanned the street from the fourth story of the 
Commonwealth Building and the building nearly or 
quite opposite, and a Lincoln flag nearly as wide as 
the street and reaching down to within fifteen feet 
of the pavement was flung to the winds. 

A few days thereafter Commissioner Neal decided, 
upon more careful reflection, that he had made a 
mistake in increasing the valuation of the properties, 
and he immediately restored them to their original 
valuations. The immense flag startled the people 
of Philadelphia, but it was a great feature, and 
hundreds who shuddered when they first saw it, 
learned to love it before the contest closed, and 


Of Pennsylvania 417 

sent up the heartiest cheers when Lincobi's election 
was finally announced. 

It was an appalling task to create an organization 
from our disjointed and often jarring opposition 
elements, out of which a party had to be created to 
cope with the able Democratic leaders and their 
thorough political organization. If money had been 
needed, as it is now, to accomplish organization and 
secure co-operation of district voters, it would have 
been an utter impossibility, as money was not to be 
had. The entire cash receipts of the committee in 
the campaign in the pivotal State, that by its October 
election accomplished the great political revolution 
of i860, did not exceed $10,000, and, including Dr. 
Jayne's contribution of $2,000 rent, our receipts were 
$12,000. Of this $3,000 was paid for stationery and 
printing, leaving what would now be regarded as the 
pitiable sum of $7,000 as the entire resources of the 
committee to organize and campaign the State. 

Fortunately the people were then, as a rule, strangers 
to the debauchery of politics, and in no contest in the 
history of the cotmtry were they more earnest in their 
convictions. It was not at all difficult to get a sub- 
committee in every election district of the State com- 
posed of intelligent and earnest workers in the cause, 
and before the first of July the State committee was 
in direct communication with a perfect organization 
extending into the remotest townships of the Com- 
monwealth Not a dollar was paid for this service 
and in no instance was there any failure to respond 
to any demand that was made upon them. They 
not only organized their clubs and wideawakes, held 
their meetings in schoolhouses and paid their own 
expenses, but they twice made a careful canvass of 
every vote in the State outside of Philadelphia and 
Pittsburg, and their last canvass, made only a few 



Ey^T^ m syna^^oi? *iih « ir i&e Sate mlio 
was ^jt8S}>;>ed for tiae i^osinsr: daeesfcSy gaire Ins time 
t(> iq>e^ irfaerever c^^der^ by the S^de cxxnmitlBe, 
ai^ pdid his c/irn expecses, ai^ a tasge cmnber cf 
^^faiXatf% (r^An fAher States aided is. and all witbcrat 
compensMifAi with the sic^ exception of Carl Sdmrz. 
Sdhwrz was then livir^ in Wisoc«isin and was certainly 
iht atjjest disptttant who couki be broc^lit to aid in 
tlie mtfjj/ort of our catsse. He was poor, his services 
were in great demand, and he could not afford to come 
to Penns)rlvania without pay. I finally took the 
ffi^K/nsibility of engaging him for a week, during 
which time he spolo^ always once a day and some- 
times twice or three times, often delivering part of his 
Sfieech in German. He rendered inestimable service 
to us in the t/attle, but a week or so after he went home 
a draft for $500 produced fearful consternation at our 
hea^lquarters, as that was an tmusually large stmi 
for the committee to have on hand. The draft was 
promptly met, however, and I could not dispute that 
ne had well earned the money. 

We could have used a considerable stmi of money 
advantageously and legitimately in making great 
demonstrations and perfecting our organization, but 
it was imix)ssible to obtain it and fortimately the 
T)coi)le were willing to do the necessary work without 
it. Some collections were made every day, but a ten 
dollar bill was considered a generous contribution and 
the majority of the contributors gave five dollars or 
1(!B8. Curtin was not in condition to contribute to the 
campaign beyond the heavy expenses he would incur 
in trav(Tsing the State. 

After we had gotten fairly under way, I visited 

Of Pennsylvania 419 

Governor Morgan, who had been continued as chair- 
man of the National committee, and who was one of 
the Seward leaders at the Chicago convention. Penn- 
sylvania was the arbiter of the National battle ; if it was 
carried in October Lincoln's election was assured; if it 
was lost in October Lincoln's defeat was inevitable. 
It was reasonable, therefore, to expect that the National 
committee would not only be intensely interested in 
the Pennsylvania contest, but would liberally aid 
the cause. Morgan received me most frigidly and 
peremptorily refused to contribute a dollar. 

During the entire battle in this State that was to 
decide the National contest, I never received any aid, 
directly or indirectly, from the National committee, 
and never had any inquiry from it as to the progress 
of the campaign. I twice wrote to Thurlow Weed, 
giving the situation in our State and asking his co- 
operation, but he did not exhibit even the courtesy of 
a reply. They were greatly offended at Curtin for 
defeating Seward, and they would have been well 
satisfied had Curtin been defeated, with the logical 
result of Lincoln's defeat to follow. After Pennsyl- 
vania and Indiana were won in October, both Morgan 
and Weed, Seward's leaders in New York, came to the 
front, when there was nothing to do but shout over 
the victory. 

Early in September, when I was fully satisfied that 
Curtin would be elected, I made a careful investiga- 
tion into the congressional districts of the State, as it 
was deemed very important to carry a Republican 
Congress with the President. I found half a dozen 
of our congressional districts that were trembling 
in the balance and likely to go for or against us, 
depending upon the best methods employed. The 
candidates for Congress, as a rule, had to pay their 
own expenses, and most of them were poor. I had no 

420 old Time Notes 

means to aid them and saw no way of commanding it. 
I knew Moses Taylor, of New York, very well, and 
made an appointment to meet him in that city. I 
presented the condition of these congressional dis- 
tricts and appealed to him to raise some money to aid 
them. He <^ed in several btisiness men in no way 
connected with the National committee, and in one 
day they raised $4,700, and I had them send it directly 
to the candidates for Congress without going through 
my hands at all, and every one of the candidates was 

Curtin's campaign was the most exhaustive ever 
made in the State. He was in superb physical con- 
dition, spoke with great ease and was one of the most 
fascinating of popular orators, with a very imposing 
personality. His campaign was planned for every 
secular day from the time he started out, some time 
in July, tmtil election day, and he many times spoke 
twice and sometimes thrice a day. He never had a 
moment of leisure, and all the many letters he received, 
excepting those from his own family, he sent to me 
without opening. His programme was changed by the 
State committee from time to time without even 
advising him. He knew that when he delivered an 
address at any place there would be persons there to 
take him to his next appointment, and at times he did 
not know of it until thus informed. Facilities for 
travel were then few and tedious, as compared with 
the present, and he had many long carriage rides, and 
he was at times compelled to travel most of the night, 
but he filled every appointment and enthused the var- 
ious opposition elements to the highest degree by 
his admirable campaign speeches. He possessed the 
rare combination among public speakers of being 
ably argtimentative, with an exhaustive reserve of 
wit and invective that never failed to captivate the 

Of Pennsylvania 421 

audience. At one time I did not hear directly from 
him for an entire month, but he was of course advised 
from headquarters every few days of the progress of 
the campaign, and especially of any new phase that 
had developed and how it was to be met. 

Everything progressed favorably tmtil early in Sep- 
tember we discovered a serious disaffection in the 
American element of Philadelphia. The organ of 
that party, the "Evening Journal, " brought the crisis 
to a culmination by annotmcing that it must with- 
draw its support from Curtin, and charging that he 
was of the Catholic faith. Fortimately the venerable 
Rev. James Linn, who was then living as pastor 
emeritus of the Bellefonte Presbyterian diurch, came 
to the front stating that he had baptized Ciutin in 
his own church, and that Curtin had always been a 
member of his congregation. 

The Know Nothing defection was a purely com- 
mercial transaction, and I was offered the restoration 
of harmonious relations between that order and 
Curtin for the simi of $2,500. There were many 
good reasons why I should not pay such a price for 
such a purpose, but it was needless to consider more 
than one of the many, as it was utterly impossible 
for me to raise the amount of money demanded, and 
in a public speech in the Wigwam, where our great 
meetings were then held in Pluladelphia, I annoimced 
the price demanded by the Know Nothing leaders 
and gave their names to the public. A healthy 
reaction was produced, but they held over 2,000 of 
their voters, who were still actively connected with 
the secret organization, away from Curtin. 

They claimed that they had 13,000 voters in the 
Know Nothing lodges of the city, and it became very 
important to ascertain the force they had. I called 
upon Mayor Henry, and asked his permi3§iop to Jiav^ 

422 Old Time Notes 

the police estimate them, as it could well be done in 
the different parts of the city, but he peremptorily 
refused to allow the police to perform any such political 
duty. Forttmately his chief of police was more 
liberally inclined, and inside of a week he brought 
me a careful eniraieration of the entire niraiber of 
Know Nothings yet remaining in connection with the 
secret lodges as 2,300, and they exhibited within 100 
of that niOTiber in the election returns, where they 
had acted in concert and their vote could be accurately 

The Know Nothing revulsion soon ceased to be a 
factor in the contest, and we worked along without 
any new alarming indications tmtil within two weeks 
of the election, when the Democrats, who were entirely 
tmited on Henry D. Foster, the Democratic candidate 
for Governor, decided to spend a large amoimt of 
money in city and State, hoping thereby to control 
the election. 

Able leaders came to Philadelphia, and the influ- 
ence of the movement was speedily felt along our 
lines. They had money in abtmdance and we had 
none, and after carefully looking into the situation 
it was decided that we must raise an additional sum 
of money, and the minimum was fixed at $2,000. All 
of the men who consulted with me, like myself, were 
exhausted financially, and it was not possible to raise 
that sum of money without finding some new source 
of supply. The subject was considered for several 
hours without finding any way out of the difficulty. 

I finally inquired of Colonel Mann whether there 
was any person in Philadelphia whose appointment 
to one of the most lucrative of the offices in the gift 
of the Governor would be entirely creditable and accept- 
able, who would be able to furnish that amoimt of 
money. He answered very promptly that there w^s 

Of Pennsylvania 


one man in the city who would be a candidate for one 
of the most lucrative of the insp^ectorships, and whose 
appointment he hoped to accomplish if Curtin was 
successful, who was entirely able to contribute that 
siun of money, and would probably do it. He was 
instructed to visit the man, and he returned with a 
check for $2,000. 

That was the last severe strain the State committee 
had in the October battle of i860 that decided the 
Republican revolution in the election of Lincoln. Of 
course the contributor received his appointment as 
leather inspector, and it was imiversally commended, 
although it is quite probable that he would have filled 
the same position had he not been called upon to make 
the contribution. It will require another chapter to 
complete the story of the great battle of i860. 


424 Old Time Notes 



Democrats Open the State Campaign with Great Vigor — Senator Welsh 
Made Chairman of the Democratic State Committee — ^Two Na- 
tional Democratic Tickets Nominated — How Joint Discussion 
Between Curtin and Foster was Unwittingly Provoked, and the 
Difficulty in Abandoning it When Nobody Wanted it — ^The Octo- 
ber Elections Paralyze the Democrats — ^The Democrats Frenzied 
by the Election of Lincoln. 

THE Democrats opened the campaign of 1 860 with 
great earnestness and confident of success. 
Although they had lost the State at two pre- 
vious elections by a combination of all the opposi- 
tion elements, they beUeved that the same elements 
could not be crystallized into an organization to 
battle for National issues, on which the different ele- 
ments of the opposition were not in hearty accord. 
They relied upon the more conservative Whigs and 
Americans to become alienated from the combination 
when called upon to elect a Republican President, 
and they were hopeful that they could recover back 
many of the disaffected Democrats. 

There never was a party with abler leadership than 
had the Democrats of Pennsylvania when the cam- 
paign of i860 was about to be opened. The Demo- 
cratic leaders of that day were men of eminent ability 
and ripe experience in political management, and they 
acted with great fidelity to their party organization. 
There was no such thing as a party boss on either side, 
and if any man or factional combination had attempted 
to issue orders to the State conventions of either of 
the parties about to meet in battle, it would not only 

l_jSli»ttw" Q^. 1 


Of Pennsylvania 425 

have been resented, but such leadership would have 
been sent to the rear without ceremony. 

Such men as J. Glancey Jones, of Berks; Judge 
Campbell and Chambers McKibben, of Philadelphia; 
Arnold Plummet, of Venango; John L. Dawson, of 
Fayette ; George W. Cass and James P. Barr, of Pitts- 
burg; State Chairman Ward, of Bradford; Senator 
Buckalew, of Columbia; Senator Bigler, of Clearfield; 
James Bums, of Mifflin; A. Porter Wilson, of Himt- 
ingdon, and many others who had attained distinction 
in the Democratic counsels, came to the front, not to 
battle for individual mastery but to consider calmly 
how Democratic supremacy could be regained in 

Their convention met at Reading before the Demo- 
cratic National convention had split, and presented 
two candidates for the Presidency, and all were hope- 
ful that, notwithstanding the clouds which himg over 
party harmony, the party North and South would be 
thoroughly tmited and would win in both State and 
nation. There were a nimiber of candidates for the 
Democratic nomination for Governor, and several of 
them men who would have made creditable leaders 
in the contest, but it was decided after most careful 
consideration of existing political conditions that 
Henry D. Foster, of Westmoreland, was altogether 
the strongest man who could be presented against 
Curtin, and he was nominated amidst the wildest 

While the Democrats had many able men, there was 
no one of them so well equipped for the great battle 
of i860 as was Henry D. Foster. He was confessedly 
the ablest and best trial lawyer in western Pennsylvania, 
and a gentleman as genial in his personal qualities as 
he was blameless in reputation. He was one of the 
most amiable raen I have ^ver met in public life, and 

426 Old Time Notes 

if Henry D. Foster had a personal enemy it was not 
becatise any intentional aflfront had ever been given. 

He had been active in politics for many years. As 
early as 1842 he had been elected to Congress with- 
out opposition when not yet thirty years of age, and was 
re-elected in 1844. Before his term had expired in 
Congress he was elected to the popular branch of the 
Pennsylvania Legislature in 1846, was re-elected the 
following year, and was again elected to the House in 
1856. After his defeat for Governor in i860, he re- 
tired from active participation in politics until 1870, 
when he was again elected to Congress, and in 1872 he 
was defeated in a contest for re-election. 

The friends of Curtin well appreciated the fact that 
in Foster they had altogether the strongest candidate 
that could be presented against him, and if the Demo- 
cratic National convention had not broken up and 
presented two National tickets, the contest for Gover- 
nor in Pennsylvania would certainly have been doubt- 
ful, with chances rather in favor of Foster. His nomi- 
nation inspired the Democratic party with a degree 
of confidence its people had not felt for several years, 
and on every side the indications were that the Demo- 
crats were in a position to make a desperately close 
if not a successful battle. 

Senator William Henry Welsh, of York, who was then 
the Democratic leader of the Senate, presided over the 
convention, and after the nomination of Foster the 
convention departed from the customary method of 
choosing a State chairman by tmanimously electing 
Senator Welsh as field marshal of their great battle. 
The Legislature was then in session, and on his rettim 
to the senate I congratulated my fellow senator on 
the distinction he had achieved with probably quite as 
much sincerity as he had previously congratulated me 
when my appointment as chairman of the Cxirtin com- 

of Pennsylvania 427 

mittee was armotinced. I think it quite likely that 
either of us would have been glad to congratulate some 
other person as his immediate foeman in the struggle. 

Welsh was an accomplished and skillful politician 
with all the sagacity and tact necessary to make him 
a master leader. He was then serving his second term 
in the senate, and as I had served two previous sessions 
in the house, and had intimate fellowship with him, 
the closest ties of personal friendship had grown up 
between us. We were both among the yotmgest mem- 
bers of the body, engaged in the same profession, and 
I at times protected him from drastic partisan legis- 
lation aimed at him personally as the Democratic 
leader. During my first year in the senate the Demo- 
crats had but twelve members to twenty-one Repub- 
licans, and in the session of 1861 the Democrats were 
reduced to six, with twenty-seven Republicans. 

The Democratic National convention first met at 
Charleston on the 23d of April, and after wrangling 
for ten days adjourned to meet at Baltimore on the 
1 8th of Jtme. The bolters from the Charleston con- 
vention adjourned to meet in Richmond on the nth 
of June, but on meeting they adjourned tmtil the 21st, 
being three days after the meeting of the regular con- 
vention in Baltimore, with the view of harmonizing on 
a ticket if possible. The Baltimore convention declared 
Douglas the Democratic nominee, and the Richmond 
convention then rejected both Douglas and the plat- 
form and nominated Breckinridge and Lane. 

While a large majority of the Democrats of Penn- 
sylvania were in sympathy with Douglas as against 
Breckinridge, the entire patronage of the Buchanan 
administration was thrown into the breach against 
Douglas, and the factional conflict became extremely 
bitter and greatly chilled the hopes of Democratic 

428 Old Time Notes 

After much tribulatkm and many mexatioas coo- 
f erences, the oppoang wings <^ the party agreed upofn 
an electoral ticket that was pledged to vote unitedly 
for either of the Democratic candidates for President 
if thereby he could be elected, but was at liberty tc 
vote individual preferences, if elected, in case the 
united vote of the electors of the State would not give 
success to either. No such fusion would have been 
attempted but for the hope that thereby Foster might 
be elected, and the tmanimity in favor of Foster was 
shown in a very emphatic way by the fact that, while 
he was on the stump almost continuously for several 
months, no one ever asked him to define his position 
on the Presidency. He was a man of fine presence, 
of charming manners, a most adroit and able political 
disputant, and both wings of the party supported him. 

An interesting incident occurred some time after 
the campaign was fairly under way, and Curtin and 
Foster were speaking daily in different sections of the 
State, showing how things have sometimes to be done 
imder cover in great political struggles. While Foster 
was one of the coolest and most imimpassioned of 
popular speakers, Curtin was nothing if not impulsive 
and enthusiastic. In one of his speeches in the western 
part of the State he was criticising Foster's straddling 
attitude on the Presidency, and thoughtlessly stated 
that he would be glad to meet him and have him dis- 
cuss the issue of the contest face to face. It was a 
passing thought with Curtin, and he never intended 
it to be accepted as a challenge to Foster, but it was 
so proclaimed by the papers supporting Curtin, and 
Foster was called upon by the Democratic organs to 
respond by meeting Curtin in joint debate. 

Foster addressed a letter to Chairman Welsh, who 
had his headquarters at the Merchants' Hotel, stating 
that as Curtin had challenged him to a joint discussion, 

of Pennsylvania 429 

he could do no less than accept it, and instructed him 
to meet me and complete the necessary arrangements. 

There was only one way for Welsh to meet the 
emergency, and that was to address a defiant letter to 
me stating that, as Curtin had challenged Foster to 
a joint discussion, Foster was quite willing to accept 
it, and asking me to meet him and arrange the details. 
I could do no less than answer as defiantly as Welsh 
had written, without intimating that Curtin had not 
intended his remarks to be accepted as a challenge, 
and declared my willingness to meet Chairman Welsh 
at any time and place he might name, to fix an accept- 
able programme for the two candidates for Governor. 

Welsh replied expressing his gratification in the 
strongest terms that his ca'ndidate would have the 
opportimity of meeting Curtin, and named the next 
day at one o'clock for me to meet him at his head- 
quarters at the Merchants' Hotel. 

I was there promptly on time, and, of course, re- 
ceived a very cordial greeting from my warm personal 
friend, the Democratic chairman. He had cigars and 
a rather dark-hued bottle on the table, with glasses 
and ice water, and immediately proposed that we take 
a drink. 

After refreshment we took our cigars, sat down and 
chatted for half an hour or more without referring to 
the campaign, and finally Welsh inquired whether it 
would be agreeable to me to adjourn the meeting to a 
time several days distant, as he had an important 
appointment out of the city, and he wished to have 
ample t'me to arrange for the discussion. He did not 
intend that I shotild misunderstand his willingness to 
avoid a joint discussion if it could be accomplished, 
and without assuming that I understood him, we 

We met again promptly on time several days there- 

430 Old Time Notes 

after, and Welsh opened the conference with the 
bottle, ice water, glasses and cigars as before. After 
refreshments, while enjoying the cigars, we chatted 
for nearly an hour about legislation and many other 
things of personal interest, without once alluding to 
the business which we had met ostensibly to consider. 
The fact that I did not introduce the subject satisfied 
Welsh that I was not himgry for a joint debate, and 
without a word having been said on the subject both 
well imderstood that neither desired to consummate 
the arrangement for a joint discussion. 

Finally Welsh took an extra whiff from his cigar, 
and coming up in front of me, said : " Aleck, you don't 
want this joint debate, do you?'' 

To which I answered: *' Harry, I don't want it any 
more than you do." 

At this there was a mutual laugh, but we were both 
soon sobered by the reflection that the public had been 
assured of this joint discussion, and it wotild be very 
difficult for either of us to explain why we had not 
brought it about when it was known, and had been 
published all over the State, that the matter was in 
the hands of Chairman Welsh and myself to arrange 
the details. We were both in the position that an 
explanation to the public was an absolute necessity, 
and to publish the letters which really passed between 
us wotild have made it impossible for us to offer any 
plausible explanation of failure to complete the ar- 

We finally agreed to destroy all the letters which had 
passed between us, and to rewrite several letters on 
each side embracing certain embarrassing conditions, 
and the letters to be so carefully worded that each side 
could plausibly claim that the other had refused to 
have the joint debate. It was quite a serious task 
and required the most careful political diplomacy, but 

Of Pennsylvania 431 

we finally got it accomplished to the satisfaction of 
both, and the next morning the Curtin papers pub- 
lished the correspondence with immense scare-head 
lines declaring that Foster had declined to meet Curtin, 
and the Democratic papers published the correspond- 
ence with equally flaming headlines declaring that 
Curtin had refused to meet Foster. 

Curtin had no knowledge of these conferences on 
the subject of a joint discussion imtil he saw the letters 
in public print. Welsh had very good reasons for 
wanting to avoid a joint discussion for the reason that 
Curtin would have crucified Foster on the altar of his 
two Presidential candidates, but even with that ad- 
vantage on Curtin 's side Foster would have main- 
tained himself creditably. 

My reason for very willingly assenting to the rejec- 
tion of the proposed joint discussion was that I re- 
garded it as most important to Curtin to cover the 
entire State in his campaign, and the joint discussions 
would have brought him away from the rural districts 
where his presence and speeches accomplished so much, 
as the joint discussions would necessarily have been in 
the important centers of population throughout the 
State, in many of which Curtin had already spoken. 
His personality was altogether the most important 
factor in the contest, and it was specially important 
that he should meet the masses in every section of the 
Commonwealth . 

Welsh and I often met during the progress of the 
fight, and within a week after our correspondence had 
been published we each had the pleasure of informing 
the other that our principals were highly delighted 
with our disposition of the joint debate proposition. 

After the two Democratic National tickets had been 
formally placed in the field without the hope of ad- 
justment, the popular tide was steadily against the 

432 Old Time Notes 

Democrats in Pennsylvania, but their leaders made 
the most heroic struggle to save Foster. Our opposi- 
tion elements were naturally more cordially united 
and greatly inspired by the prospect of success, and 
the result was the election of Curtin by a majority of 


Henry S. Lane, the Republican candidate for Gov- 
ernor in Indiana, carried his State on the same day by 
9,757 majority. The only other States holding elec- 
tions in October were Ohio and Iowa, and both of 
them gave large Republican majorities, but Pennsyl- 
vania and Indiana were the pivotal States of the 
battle, and the election of Curtin and Lane in those 
States irrevocably decided the election of Lincoln in 

With the sweeping majority for Curtin the Repub- 
licans carried 18 of the 25 Congressmen, and the Legis- 
ture elected made the Senate stand 27 Republicans 
to 6 Democrats, and the House 71 Republicans to 
29 Democrats. 

The great contest in Pennsylvania that had prac- 
tically decided the judgment of the nation in favor of 
the great political revolution of i860, was honestly 
fought and fairly won, and the only reproach upon 
our cause that was attempted was in the city of Phila- 
delphia, where, on election night, a sum of money was 
raised and some Democratic election officers were 
corrupted to make a false return in favor of the elec- 
tion of Mr. Butler, Republican, over Lehman, Demo- 
crat, for Congress. It was a palpable and flagrant 
fraud, and I learned of it before I went to bed in the 
early morning hours of election night. I at once went 
to Colonel Mann, then district attorney, and de- 
manded the immediate prosecution of the corrupt 
election officers. Mann was a very earnest friend of 
Butler, but I informed him that no such stain would 

of Pennsylvania 433 

be permitted to cloud the great victory we had won. 
He prosecuted William Bierly and others, convicted 
them and had them sentenced before the Governor 
had issued his proclamation declaring who were elected 
members of Congress. On the strength of those con- 
victions Governor Packer gave the certificate to Leh- 
man, and proclaimed him elected. Butler contested, 
and I appeared before the Republican committee of 
Congress, stated the facts and the contest was then 

The October elections having practically settled the 
National contest, the labors of the State organization 
were greatly diminished. All we had to do was to 
keep our forces in line by a succession of mass meetings 
demanded by the enthused conditions of our people. 
The hopeless condition of the Democracy greatly 
lessened the interest of the rank and file, but the Demo- 
crats of that day were natural voters. Notwithstand- 
ing nearly 10,000 Democrats in the city of Philadelphia 
alone voted for the distinctive Douglas ticket and 
against the fusion Democratic electoral ticket, they 
polled 178,871 votes for their regular electoral ticket, 
while the straight Douglas ticket received 16,765 votes. 
Bell, the Constitutional Union candidate, received a 
total of 12,776 in the State, most of which was cast in 
the city of Philadelphia. Lincoln had 89,159 plurality 
over the fusion Democratic ticket, and 59,618 majority 
of the entire vote. 

The election of Lincoln almost frenzied the Demo- 
crats of Philadelphia, as up to that time they had 
always treated Republicanism with the utmost con- 
tempt, and the kindest term they ever applied was 
that of '* Black Republicans," always associating them 
with abolitionism and negro equality. The streets of 
the city were crowded with parading Republican 
banners which were greeted with hissing scorn, and at 

434 Old Time Notes 

times with volleys of stones from the Democratic gangs 
of the wharf wards. They could not understand how 
it was possible that a Black Republican could be 
elected President of the United States, and they openly 
predicted that the end of the Republic had come, as 
the country had taken a desperate plunge into anarchy. 
Many riots occurred during the night in different parts 
of the city, but the next morning the sim arose with 
its accustomed splendor, and Philadelphia was as 
quiet as if no political convulsion had occurred. 

Such is the story of the battle in Pennsylvania for 
Lincoln in i860. 

of Pennsylvania 435 


Cameron was Senator and Curtin Governor and Implacable in Their 
Political and Personal Resentments — Purviance a Compromise as 
Attorney General — Slifer Made Secretary of the Commonwealth — 
How Slifer Came to the Surface by Defeating Middleswerth for 
Senator — Slifer's Service to Curtin and to the Country Never 
Justly Appreciated — Cameron's Triumph in Electing Cowan 
United States Senator — Assured His Appointment to the Lincoln 

THE election of Lincoln opened wide the door for 
factional conflict in Pennsylvania. The severe 
restraints which had been imposed upon fac- 
tional belligerents by the necessity of remaining appar- 
ently tranquil until a National Republican victory 
could be achieved, entirely perished when the Republi- 
cans had won in State and nation. 

Cameron and Curtin, implacabe personal and politi- 
cal foes, were both in favorable positions to wield vast 
political power. Cameron was a Republican United 
States Senator, with his term extending through half 
of the Lincoln administration, and he well knew that 
whatever conditions existed in the State, and however 
he might be estimated by the new President, he cotild 
not be ignored. On the other hand, Curtin, in all the 
vigor of the noontide of life, had been called to the 
chief magistracy of the State by an overwhelming 
majority, and his personal following very largely 
dominated the party to which the two great factional 
leaders were indebted for their honors. 

Cameron's ambition was to enter the cabinet, and 
Ciutin was aggressive in his hostility to Cameron's 

436 Old Time Notes 

success. Of the two, Cameron was the greater polit- 
ical leader. While Curtixi well understood the State 
generally, Cameron studied and understood individuals 
who could be of service, and could always summon 
them when conflict confronted him. He had many 
friends who were largely inspired by the hope of 
political rewards, and it was that inspiration that made 
his followers support him with great earnestness for a 
position in the cabinet. 

Pennsylvania never produced a more adroit political 
manager than Cameron. He was far-seeing, laiew the 
precise value of men, would command infiuences by 
the most circuitous methods, and was tireless in manag- 
ing his organization. It was most important to him 
that the Curtin cabinet should indicate some recogni- 
tion of the Cameron element of the party, and to that 
end he directed exhaustive efforts. He had many 
friends who had sincerely supported Curtin for nomi- 
nation and election, and they made earnest appeals 
to Curtin for party harmony by recognizing Cameron's 
friends in the State administration. 

Beside the Cameron-Curtin men who were pressing 
for a division of factional honors in the cabinet, there 
were nearly or quite a score of prominent Curtin men 
in the State who were vigorously pressed upon Curtin 
for cabinet positions. If he could have chosen the 
chief cabinet officers in accordance with his own per- 
sonal wishes he would have made ex-Senator Francis 
Jordan, of Bedford, secretary of the commonwealth, 
and Senator Darwin A. Finney, of Crawford, attorney 
general, but many complications arose and Curtin, 
who very earnestly desired to serve the many friends 
who had so enthusiastically supported him, was greatly 
embarrassed in the selection of his cabinet officers. 
Finney was then a member of the Senate with one 
year to serve, and Curtin and Finney were entirely in 

of Pennsylvania 437 

accord in regarding Finney as ineligible to a position 
in the cabinet imtil the expiration of his senatorial 

This opened the way for an arrangement suggested 
by ex-Senator Titian J. CoflFey, of Indiana Coimty, one 
of the ablest and most influential of Curtin 's supporters, 
who had decided to locate in Pittsburg to practise his 
profession, associated with Congressman Samuel A. 
Purviance, of Butler, who had just finished some years 
of service in the National Congress. Purviance was 
known as friendly to Cameron, although not offensive 
in factional warfare, and CoflFey earnestly urged the 
Grovemor to open the way for Fixmey as attorney 
general by appointing Purviance to that position, 
with the distinct imderstanding that he shotild resign 
at the end of one year, when Finney would become 

The appointment of Purviance not only relieved the 
Curtin administration from the imputation of follow- 
ii^g aggressive factional lines, but it gave the new law 
firai of Pittsburg very substantial advantage in enter- 
ing upon a professional career. The attorney gener- 
alship was thus settled by a compromise that gave a 
tub to the Cameron whale and apparently assured 
Finney the attorney generalship as soon as he was 
competent to asstune its honors and duties. 

There were a full dozen of able and very worthy 
friends of Curtin who were desirous to fill the position 
of secretary of the commonwealth, and Curtin was 
exceedingly embarrassed in his eflforts to solve the 
problem. He delayed his decision imtil a short time 
before his inauguration, and diflfictilties multiplied upon 
him with each succeeding week. He finally stmmioned 
several of his trusted friends who were not applicants 
for any position imder him to a conference on the sub. 
ject, and I was one of the ntmiber. The various ex- 

438 Old Time Notes 

pectants were very frankly discussed, but the selection 
of any one of them seemed to threaten serious com- 

Eli Slifer was then State treasurer and serving his 
third term. He did not seek a cabinet appointment, 
but was expecting to reach congressional honors in his 
district. After a protracted discussion of the qualities 
of the various men named for the secretaryship the 
men who had been called into conference with Curtin 
imitedly decided that Slifer would be altogether the 
best man for the position, and with one accord they 
urged Curtin to tender him the appointment. Slifer 
was a very earnest friend of Curtin, and Curtin would 
have been more than willing to accept him but for the 
many disappointments which must result from the 
choice. After reviewing the whole situation he finally 
decided in favor of Sluer, and the next morning his 
appointment was announced in the public press. 
Slifer accepted with some reluctance, as it changed the 
political plans of his life, and called him to six years 
of the most exacting and wearing public duties, which 
left him hopelessly enfeebled physically. 

There are very few people living to-day who have 
anything like a just appreciation of the services ren- 
dered to the Curtin administration, to the State and 
to the nation by Eli Slifer. He was a man of the most 
quiet and imasstiming manners, and one of the most 
tirelessly patient of thinkers and workers. In all the 
vexatious complications which arose from the countless 
new problems presented by civil war, the one man whose 
judgment was always deferred to was Slifer. He was 
an entirely self-made man of limited education, but a 
great student and an energetic, intelligent business 
man, who acquired the highest position in his com- 
munity and abundant wealth, garnered by the most 
conscientious business methods. He had served two 

Of Pennsylvania 439 

sessions in the Legislature a decade before he entered 
the Curtin cabinet, and in 1851, just when he was 
closing his service as a representative, we met as con- 
ferees in a senatorial conference for the district com- 
posed of Union, Mifflin and Juniata. 

Ner Middleswerth, who had represented Union 
Coimty in the senate and house for nearly twenty 
years, was the Whig candidate, and although he had 
never enjoyed a day's schooling in his life, he was re- 
garded as one of the ablest political disputants of the 
State. He was rich, illiterate, unsympathetic, auto- 
cratic, and the young Whigs of the district had grown 
very weary of his domination. Jtmiata had a candi- 
date for senator, and I was one of the three conferees 
charged with the duty of making an effort for his 
nomination. Mifflin also had a candidate, and James 
MiUiken, then a resident of Mifflin Coimty, but better 
known in Philadelphia as one of the foimders of the 
Union League, was one of the three conferees chosen 
to press the nomination of their local candidate. The 
conference met in a small village in the interior of Union 
Coimty, and MiUiken and I represented the young ele- 
ment that wanted to retire Middleswerth. We first 
ascertained that it would be impossible for Mifflin and 
Juniata counties to unite on either of their candidates, 
and we then decided that whoever might be eventually 
nominated Middleswerth should be defeated, as we 
controlled six of the nine votes. 

Union County furnished the entire Whig majority 
of the district, and had a very strong claim for the nom- 
ination, while neither of the other counties presented 
candidates of such eminent distinction as to justify 
his nomination over Middleswerth. Middleswerth at- 
tended the conference in person, and was entirely con- 
fident of success, as he knew Juniata and Mifflin would 
not unite on either of their candidates. There was an 

440 Old Time Notes 

old-time feud bet'wfeen Juniata and Mifflin that had 
existed for many years as the result of political quarrels. 
Before the county of Jimiata was created out of the 
part of Mifflin County commonly known as ''below 
the narrows," about the only thing the people of the 
county above and below ''the narrows'' cotdd agree 
upon was to bury people when they died. What was 
then known as "tiie narrows" is well known locally 
by the same name to-day, being the very narrow gap 
in the mountain that cUvides the cotmty, not wide 
enough at places for a turnpike, the river and the rail- 

Middleswerth well imderstood that these two counties 
could not be united, and did not doubt that he wotdd 
ultimately be nominated. His confidence in his success 
was ostentatiously expressed, and it certainly did not 
tend to reconcile MilHken and myself, and we finally 
took a walk into a nearby forest to solve the problem 
that confronted us, and we decided that we wotdd 
nominate Slifer for senator without consulting him 
or permitting him to know in advance that his name 
was to be used. 

In order to pave the way for a compromise candidate 
we agreed that when the conference got fairly tmder 
way we would each present the claims of our county 
and candidate and finally drift into a wrangle that 
apparently threatened the dissolution of the confer- 
ence, when we would carry a motion to adjourn for 
dinner, and at the meeting after dinner we would cast 
the six votes of Jimiata and Mifflin for Eli Slifer. 

The programme was carried out to the letter, and 
when the conference adjourned for dinner the expecta- 
tion was general that the quarrel between Jimiata and 
Mifflin had become so intense that Whig success in 
the district was greatly endangered. No one outside 
of our six conferees had any knowledge of our purpose 

Of Pennsylvania 441 

to nominate Slifer, and it came like a lightning flash 
from an tmclouded sky to Middleswerth, and utterly 
dumfotmded Slifer, who was in the conference, and 
most sincerely supporting the nomination of Middles- 
werth. He arose, very much confused, and simply 
said that it would be impossible for him to accept the 
nomination, as he was a delegate instructed for another 
candidate whose nomination he very earnestly desired. 
We promptly voted six to three not to accept his decli- 
nation, and adjourned the conference. 

Middleswerth, then a man of more than patriarchal 
years, cried like a child at his tmexpected defeat, and 
he at first said that Slifer was right in not accepting 
the nomination, but Milliken and I informed him that 
if Slifer declined we would nominate another Union 
County man other than himself, and left it for him to 
say whether, tmder the circumstances, he shotdd force 
the declination of Slifer. He knew that Slifer was 
incapable of perfidy in his trust, and he frankly said 
that if his nomination was impossible he must advise 
Slifer to accept. 

Slifer was elected without a contest and during his 
three years in the senate he demonstrated remarkable 
practical ability and devotion to every public duty. 
After retiring from the senate he was thrice elected 
State treasurer, and he was thus thoroughly equipped 
from experience in public affairs to take the position 
of secretary of the commonwealth as one of the ablest 
and soundest advisers the Governor could have, and 
he more than vindicated the expectations of his friends. 

He was one of the few men during the severe trial of 
the Civil War who did more to guide the affairs of state 
than any other one man in the Commonwealth, not 
even excepting Curtin, for the Governor soon learned 
to rely more upon the intelligent judgment of Silfer 
than even upon his own. Always calm and xmruffied, 

442 Old Time Notes 

even in the most perilous extremities, he was keen in 
perception, comprehensive in the mastery of every 
problem, and there was not a peril in the war or pohtics 
that he was not ready to meet and present the very 
best solution. 

Beyond a Sunday visit to his beautiful country home 
in the suburbs of Lewisbin^g to attend his beloved 
family and Methodist church, when the exigencies of 
war permitted him to leave the Capital, he was always 
at h^ post. He not only took no vacations, but he 
was never diverted from his endless official duties to 
enjoy recreations of any kind. He was just the man 
to temper the impulsive quaUties of Governor Curtin, 
and it is due to the truth of history to say that to no 
man was Curtin so much indebted for the eminent 
success of his two administrations as to Eli Slifer. 

From the time that Slifer retired, in 1867, until his 
death, more than a decade later, he devoted his time 
entirely to the hopeless effort of regaining his broken 
health, but neither the waters nor climates of the Old 
World nor the Test of home could restore to him the 
vigor he had sacrificed to public duty in the darkest 
days of the government, and finally impaired mental 
power told to his many devoted friends the sad story 
that death alone could give him promise of relief. 

Ctirtin's cabinet was accepted as a generous conces- 
sion on his part to the unity of the party organization, 
and Cameron was enabled to claim that he had been 
recognized in the appointment of Attorney General 
Purviance, but he well knew the balrtle he would be 
compelled to make to win his cabinet position and to 
hold it if he were successful in attaining it. A United 
States Senator was to be elected, and he understood 
that his power with the new National administration 
would de'pend very largely, if not wholly, upon having 
a friendly associate in the Senate. He knew the field 

Of Pennsylvania 443 

well, for he always kept close watch upon the election 
of members of the Legislature, and he knew also that 
the distinctive Curtin element was not thoroughly 
united in favor of any one for Senator. He had no 
candidate of his own : he simply watched the develop- 
ment of the contest, ready to come to the relief of any 
man who developed sufficient strength to be within 
range of success with Cameron's support, and then by 
giving such candidate the victory to be able to com- 
mand his kindest offices. 

There were a niraiber of candidates for Senator. Cur- 
tin was tmpledged to any, and felt it to be his duty as 
the Governor-elect to avoid involving his administra- 
tion in such a contest. Most of his prominent friends 
supported David Wilmot, and he would have been 
elected but for the fact that he could not make such 
terms with Cameron as Cameron desired. He was not 
friendly to Cameron and believed that Cameron's 
power was not one to be strengthened in the interest 
of good politics, but he had never come in aggressive 
conflict with Cameron, although he very earnestly 
supported Curtin for nomination and election. 

Edgar Cowan, of Westmoreland, was a very fluent 
and impressive popular speaker, who held a high posi- 
tion in the Westmoreland bar. He was somewhat 
erratic and superficial, but when he got himself well 
balanced in forensic conflict he was a strong man. He 
was a radical Republican, but he gravitated during his 
senatorial career from extreme Republicanism to 
Johnsonism and Democracy. A committee of his 
friends waited upon me as chairman of the State com- 
mittee, stated that he was a candidate for Senator, 
and asked that he be given good assignments as a cam- 
paigner by the committee. I made out a list satis- 
factory to his friends, starting him to speak at Johns- 
town, next Altoona and down the Juniata Valley. 

444 Old Time Notes 

The evening that he opened his campaign at Johns- 
town I received several despatches appealing to me to 
withdraw him, as his radical views offended fiie Ameri- 
can and conservative element. I could not adopt such 
summary treatment, but when he spoke at Altoona the 
following night I received such a ntunber of protesting 
despatches that I at once ordered him to fill a number 
of appointments in the Wilmot district, and trans- 
ferred to Cowan's engagements an able campaigner 
who had previously been assigned there. 

He was quite magnetic in his intercourse with others, 
and when the Legislature met he started in the race 
for United States Senator with a very formidable fol- 
lowing, but considerably short of a majority. 

Cameron saw his opportunity to join forces with 
Cowan and elect him Senator. Cowan was, of course, 
more than willing to accept the Cameron support that 
secured him the election, and very warmly appreciated 
his obligation to Cameron. The contest was quite 
aninfiated, but was not conducted at all strictly on 
factional lines, and Cowan, with Cameron's support, 
won out without serious difficulty. 

This was a positive triumph for Cameron, and one 
that was quite substantial in its results. With a fel- 
low-Republican Senator from the State to support him 
he entrenched himself very strongly in the innner citadel 
of Republican power, both State and National. While 
Cowan's election was not in any sense a distinct defeat 
for Ciutin, it was a very distinct trittmph for Cameron, 
and it bore him rich fruits in his many desperate strug- 
gles to maintain his power. 

Of Pennsylvania 445 


He was Compelled to Give the First Utterance of a Great Northern State 
on the Question of Maintaining the Union — Protracted Conference 
Over the Paragraph of his Inaugural Defining the Attitude of 
Pennsylvania — Curtin Fully Advised of the Strength and Deter- 
mination of the Secession Element — The Senate of 1861 — Sober 
and Masterly Discussion of the Sectional Issue — Thaddeus Stevens 
and the Cabinet — Cameron made Secretary of War — The Phila- 
delphia Appointments. 

GOVERNOR CURTIN did not appear at Harris- 
burg until two days before his inauguration, 
which took place on the third Tuesday of 
January. He had taken no part in the exciting con- 
test for United States Senator, and, indeed, had paid 
little attention to the political conditions at Harris- 
burg. He was profoundly impressed with the fearful 
responsibility that had been cast upon him, as he was 
compelled to give the first official utterance in the 
North on the secession issue. Lincoln's inauguration 
was then nearly six weeks distant, and Pennsylvania 
occupied the most important position of any of the 
Northern States, not only because of her material and 
moral power, but also because of the exposure of her 
border in the event of civil war. 

From the time that secession began with South 
Carolina on the 17th of December, little more than 
a month after the election of Lincoln, Curtin had made 
exhaustive efforts to ascertain the true condition of 
affairs in the South. He procured the aid of several 
prominent and liberal business men and employed 
a score or more of bright yoimg men to visit the South, 

446 Old Time Notes 

ostensibly as commercial agents, telegraph operators, 
etc., and had intelligent and very carefully prepared 
reports from all the Southern States as to the extent 
and earnestness of the secession movement. When 
he came to Harrisburg to be inaugurated as Governor 
he well tmderstood that the South was terribly in 
earnest, and that only some unexpected miracle could 
prevent fratricidal warfare. His only hope was that 
Pennsylvania, while maintaining thorough loyalty 
to the Union, would exercise a wholesome influence 
on the border States of Virginia and Kentucky, and 
restrain them from joining the Confederate move- 

His views as to the earnestness and desperation 
of the South were not generally shared by his party 
friends outside of those who were in very close rela- 
tions with him. The general impression throughout 
the North was that the South was forced into the 
disimion movement by a lot of bombastic demagogues, 
and that the Southern people were not willing to 
accept war. The South in like manner mistmder- 
stood the North by assuming that the Northern peo- 
ple were devoted chiefly to money-getting and would 
not sustain a war with the South. I believe that 
civil war could have been averted if the North and the 
South had thoroughly tmderstood each other, but the 
tempest of passion ruled, and it was impossible to 
halt the drift to fratricidal conflict. 

Curtin had prepared his inaugural address before 
he left his home in Bellefonte, but on the evening of his 
arrival at Harrisburg, he summoned Secretary Slifer 
and Attorney General Purviance, who were to com- 
pose his cabinet, with Morton McMichael, William 
B. Mann and myself, to hear his inaugural address 
read, and to confer on any modifications which might 
be suggested. 

Of Pennsylvania 447 

When Curtin presented his inaugural he said that 
he was entirely satisfied with every part of it except- 
ing the paragraph which defined the relation of the 
State to the general government, with the attitude 
Pennsylvania must assume in the event of continued 
secession. He had a paragraph in the address on the 
subject, but was in doubt himself as to whether it 
should be accepted as the official expression of Penn- 
sylvania when every word uttered by him as Chief 
Magistrate would be carefully weighed both North and 

There was no precedent in the history of the cotmtry 
to guide the Governor in defining the relation of the 
State to the National government and to other States 
in rebellion. There was not only no precedent in this 
cotmtry, but there was no precedent in the history of 
any of the Republics of the world which could be 
regarded as a guide, and a mistaken utterance as the 
official edict of Pennsylvania at that time might be 
measureless in its disastrous effects. 

There was no suggestion to change a single line of 
the inaugural when it was first read, excepting the 
suggestion made by the Governor himself, that the 
one paragraph defining the attitude of Pennsylvania 
toward rebellion should be changed, and that one 
question was discussed for hours without reaching 
a conclusion. It was nearly three o'clock in the morn- 
ing when Curtin finally proposed that each of the five 
men in consultation should go to his room, and each 
write the paragraph for the inaugural as he believed it 
should be presented, with instructions to meet again 
at ten o'clock on the following morning. 

The conference at once adjourned, and at ten o'clock 
the next morning each of the five men had his para- 
graph ready for submission. McMichael was the 
senior of the party and his paper was first read, and 

448 Old Time Notes 

without comment. Colonel Mann, being the next 
senior, presented his paragraph. Cnrtin then called 
for my paragraph and I read it. When I had finished 
McMichael asked that it be read again, and after the 
second reading he said that he would like permission 
to withdraw his paper and ask the adoption of mine, 
in which Colonel Mann immediately joined. Slifer 
and Purviance, the members of the cabinet, both said 
that they would not present their papers, as they 
agreed with McMichael and Mann, and their paragraphs 
were never presented. Curtin also very cordially 
accepted the paragraph, and was greatly relieved 
that all had finally agreed upon the declaration that 
Pennsylvania should make. 

I may be pardoned for presenting the full text of 
the paragraph, as follows: 

**Ours is a National government, and has within 
the sphere of its actions all the attributes of sovereignty, 
and among these are the right and the duty of self- 
preservation. It is based upon a compact to which 
all the people of the United States are parties. It is 
the restdt of mutual concessions which were made for 
the purpose of securing reciprocal benefits. It acts 
directly on the people, and they owe it a personal 
allegiance. No part of the people, no State, nor com- 
bination of States can volimtarily secede from the 
Union, nor absolve themselves from their obligations 
to it. To permit a State to withdraw at pleasure 
from the Union without the consent of the rest is to 
confess that our government is a failure. Penn- 
syVania can never acquiesce in such a conspiracy, 
nor assent to a doctrine which involves the destruc- 
tion of the government. If the government is to 
exist, all the requirements of the Constitution must 
be obeyed, and it must have power adequate to the 
enforcement of the supreme law of the land in every 

of Pennsylvania 449 

State. It is the first duty of the National authorities 
to stay the progress of anarchy and enforce the laws, 
and Pennsylvania, with a united peple, will give them 
an honest, faithful and active support. The people 
mean to preserve the integrity of the National Union 
at every hazard. ' * 

The inaugural address was well received and the 
positive attitude assumed by the Governor in discussing 
rebellion was generally accepted throughout the North- 
em States as speaking for all of them. The inaugura- 
tion ceremonies were of the most imposing character, 
and the clamor for place tmder the new State and 
National administrations, both of which succeeded 
opposing political authority, greatly distressed the 
more considerate when the very existence of the 
nation was trembling in the balance. I well remember 
a pathetic expression of President Lincoln soon after 
his inauguration, when coimtless swarms of political 
importtmates crowded the White House day and 
night, and when the dark cloud of civil war was 
hanging over the cotmtry, and likely to break in vio- 
lent tempest at any moment. He said that he felt 
like a man who was sitting in a temple allotting places 
in it when it was wrapped in destructive flames. 

Curtin was fully prepared to act, as he was entirely 
convinced from the information he had received from 
his own agents in the South that the Southern people 
had passed the point of compromise, and while he 
heartily joined in the Peace Coiiference, and appointed 
Pennsylvania's ablest men to attend it, he had no 
hope whatever that war could be averted. 

In the early part of the session, without conference 
with Curtin, I offered a resolution in the senate in- 
structing the committee on judiciary to inquire 
whether any of our statutes in any degree impaired 
the comity due from one commonwealth to another. 


4SO Old Time Notes 

and to report by bill or otherwise. The resohxtion 
was unanimously adopted, and in due time the report 
was made that there was not a single law of our State 
that was not in entire accord with the utmost comity 
between the States. 

I had made the motion because of letters I had 
received from several old Whigs of Virginia, including 
A. H. H. Stuart, who was in the Fillmore cabinet; 
Colonel Boteler, who had been a Whig Congressman, 
and, strange as it may now seem, Jubal A. Early, then 
a prominent Whig and positive Unionist, but one of 
the few of the Confederate generals who boasted that 
he died an tmreconstructed rebel. They were very 
earnest Union men and were under the impression 
that Pennsylvania had some statutes which hindered 
the arrest and return of fugitive slaves, but the report 
of the committee confirmed the assurance I had given 
that Pennsylvania had even gone beyond her obliga- 
tions to facilitate the execution of the fugitive slave 

The State senate of 1861 was the ablest senatorial 
body that ever met in Pennsylvania. I doubt not 
that any senate before or since had quite as able men 
in it as the ablest of the senate of 1861, but no other 
senate possessed so many men of eminent ability, and 
the discussion in the early part of the session on the 
question of Federal relations was not only the ablest 
ever had in that body, but it was the most sober and 
dignified of which there is any record. The occasion 
was so grave that demagogic utterances of the hustings 
would have harshly jarred the sense of senators. 

The senate consisted of twenty-seven Republicans 
and only six Democrats, with William H. Welsh, 
of York, the recognized Democratic leader, and 
Clymer, a new senator from Berks, a close second. 
The Republicans steadily maintained the most gen- 

Of Pennsylvania 451 

erons courtesy toward the little Democratic minority. 
The impassioned speeches of Welsh and Clymer, 
declaring that the Republican party was solely respon- 
sible for the disturbed condition of the cotmtry, were 
pointedly rebuked with mingled dignity and severity. 

Welsh was chairman of the Demoratic State com- 
mittee as I was chairman of the Lincoln committee, 
and the utterances of both were accepted, in some 
degree at least, as speaking for the party they repre- 
sented. Welsh delivered a carefully prepared speech 
demanding that the Republicans should at once halt 
and give peace to the cotmtry by compromise with 
the South, and I immediately followed him, disputing 
his premises and defining the attitude of the party 
that had triumphed. The debates were reported in 
full, and the following was the concluding paragraph 
of my reply to the Democratic chairman : 

"We labored not for injustice to others, but for 
justice to ourselves, in redressing these wrongs by the 
election of a Republican President, and the true 
measure of that National triumph is to be realized. 
This duty we owe to the whole nation, and when the 
peaceful and faithful aims of our policy shall have 
passed into history, those who come after us will be 
amazed that a dispassionate verdict of our people in 
behalf of the dignity and prosperity of labor, and in 
vindication of the Constitution, shall have given us 
rebellion. But so it is, and we must meet it. We 
shall do so by a faithful adherence to right, by a liberal 
forbearance to wrong, by generous concession to 
honest brethren, and tf for this we must avert a dis- 
membered Union at the cost of fratricidal conflict, let the 
South be responsible to posterity and to God." 

The question of a Pennsylvanian entering the 
Lincoln cabinet became the absorbing issue after the 
election of Senator and the inauguration of Curtin, 

452 Old Time Notes 

As stated in a former chapter, Cameron had been 
tendered a position in the cabinet by Lincohi in the 
latter part of December, and it was at once ostenta- 
tiotisly proclaimed by his friends, who felt confident 
that they could dominate the patronage of the National 
government. Wilmot, while not an aggressive faction- 
ist against Cameron, was not friencUy to Cameron's 
promotion, and when Cameron entered the Senatorial 
fight and defeated Wilmot, the great leader of the 
anti-slavery men of the North, he was reluctant to 
assent to Cameron wearing cabinet honors. 

I was much surprised to receive a letter from Thad- 
deus Stevens early in January expressing a most 
earnest desire to enter the Lincoln cabinet as Seaetary 
of the Treasury. It was the longest letter I ever knew 
Stevens to write, and he had evidently made a studied 
effort to depart from his usually unintelligible writing 
to make the letter readable. He had then been elected 
to his fourth term in the House, having been chosen 
in 1848 and 1850 and again in 1858 and i860, and his 
position as leader of the House, for which he was so 
well equipped, with absolute certainty that he could 
retain his position as representative of Lancaster as 
long as he was willing to accept it, seemed to me to 
make his new aim a singularly mistaken ambition. 
I wrote him frankly on the subject, and told him that 
after my conference with Lincoln at Springfield, 
Cameron would probably be refused a cabinet posi- 
tion, but if so, I was quite certain that no other Penn- 
sylvanian would be called to the place. He made an 
appointment to meet me at Harrisburg, and I was 
amazed to find Stevens entirely absorbed in the idea 
of taking the Secretaryship of the Treasury. 

Pre-eminent as he was among the great men of the 
nation as parliamentary leader and disputant, he was 
almost wholly destitute of the executive qualities 

Of Pennsylvania 453 

necessary for a cabinet officer, and his record as com- 
moner of the war, when grave financial extremities 
confronted the nation , proved how utterly imfitted he 
was for administering the finances of the nation. 
He was opposed to the many severe safeguards by 
which Chase protected the credit of the government, 
and only yielded to Chase's views when absolute 
necessity required it. His theory was to issue treas- 
ury notes ad infinitum, regardless of the deprecia- 
tion that must inevitably follow. 

Of course, I did not discuss with him his relative 
qualities for the position of popular representative 
and the position of administering the finances of the 
government, but I did earnestly but fruitlessly en- 
deavor to convince him that he held a much greater 
position in the House than any man could hold in the 
cabinet. When Cameron's appointment appeared to 
become probable again after Lincoln had tendered 
him the appointment and recalled it, Stevens very 
earnestly protested against it, and he never had more 
than perfimctory relations with Cameron in the War 

Cameron had gained a very strong position as a 
candidate for the cabinet by Curtin's appointment 
of a friend of Cameron, as attorney general of the 
State, and his success in electing Edgar Cowan as his 
fellow Senator, upon whose support he could con- 
fidently rely, enabled him to claim a seat in the cabinet 
with very strong influence from his own State. Lin- 
coln had held the matter imder advisement tmtil he 
reached Washington, when, after very full delibera- 
tion, he decided that he would renew his tender of 
the position of Secretary of War to Cameron, and 
Lincoln at once advised me of his purpose. 

After a conference with Governor Curtin and Sec- 
retary Slifer, I wa5 enabled to assure Lipcoto that np 

.4 , 

454 Old Time Notes 

factional opposition would be exerted toward his 
administration, or any portion of it, because ci oppo- 
sition to Cameron as a member of the cabinet. AH 
felt that Lincohi was entitled to the earnest and 
united support of all his friends in Pennsylvania, and 
he was greatly gratified not only because of the promise 
thus given, but because that promise was fulfilled 

When Cameron was compelled to retire from the 
cabinet nearly a year later, it was not because of 
aggressive factional hostility in Pennsylvania, but 
bemuse a representative committee of the financial 
men of New York and Philadelphia demanded the 
retirement of Cameron as an absolute necessity to 
faciUtate the handling of the additional loans required. 

On my first visit to Washington after Cameron had 
been installed in the War Office, I called upon him 
and we went out and dined together alone in a private 
room at one of the large restaurants of the city. 
Neither of us ever mistmderstood the other. We had 
no political interests of a personal character which 
were in common, and our personal relations were always 
pleasant, while we were seldom or never in accord in 
political movements. In the many disputes which 
arose in the State during the earnest factional struggle 
between Curtin and Cameron, and in the disputes 
which often arose between the Governor and Cameron 
as Secretary of War, we often met and agreed upon 
conditions and compromises, all of which were faith- 
fully fulfilled on both sides. 

Strange as it may seem, neither Cameron nor Cur- 
tin controlled most of the important and lucrative 
Presidential appointments in Philadelphia. Colonel 
Thomas was made collector as a representative of 
the original Abolitionists, and chiefly because Secre- 
tary Chase very earnestly urged it. Mr. Wallace was 

Of Pennsylvania 


made naval officer by Mrs. Lincoln because he was 
closely related to her by marriage, and the only 
important appointment made by Cameron in his own 
interest was that of Representative Walbom as 
postmaster. Governor Pollock was assigned to the 
mint, with the cordial assent of both Cameron and 
Ctirtin, but Cameron practically controlled all of the 
foreign and most of the army appointments. The 
post offices throughout the State were controlled by 
the Representatives, when Republicans, and promi- 
nent men in each cotmty were indicated by the Sena- 
tors who dispensed them in Democratic districts. 
The factional feeling would have been increased to 
white heat, and probably violent and revolutionary 
action, but for the appalling events bringing us visibly 
each day nearer to civil war, which made even the 
most earnest factionist forget all but his interest in 
averting fratricidal conflict. 

456 Old Time Notes 


How He was Appointed Prothonotary just when of Age — Made Private 
Secretary to Governor Curtin — ^Although Unassuming, He soon 
Became the Most Important Political Cotmsellor — Appointed 
Colonel of a Regiment in 1862 — Forced March to Antietam — 
Forced by Curtin to Resign as Colonel to Become Military State 
Agent at Washington — Resignation Accepted and Mustered Out 
Just Before the Battle of Fredericksburg — Volunteered to Serve 
on Tyler's Staff — One of the Officers who Led the Bloody Charge 
at St. Marie Heights — Enters the Legislature in 1866 — Curtin 
Candidate for Speaker in 1867 — Defeated by Senatorial Combi- 
nation Made by Cameron — How Quay Became Associated with 
Cameron — From Lieutenant Became Leader of the Cameron 

THE inauguration of Governor Curtin first brought 
into prominence as a political factor Matthew 
Stanley Quay, who was until then little known 
in political circles beyond his own immediate neighbor- 
hood of Beaver. 

Some time in 1855, when Curtin was secretary of the 
commonwealth and I was State superintendent of pub- 
lic printing, Curtin sent for me one morning and informed 
me that there was a vacancy in the prothonotaryship of 
Beaver Coimty, caused by the death of the incumbent, 
and that Rev. Mr. Quay, whose home was once in the 
Cumberland valley, where Senator Quay was bom and 
was well known to both of us personally, had a son 
Matthew, then a resident of Beaver, who had just 
reached his majority and was an imusually bright and 
promising young man. I had never met the yotmger 
Quay, and Curtin 's acquaintance with him was limited, 
but we both cherished great affection for Quay's father, 

Of Pennsylvania 457 

and with the very favorable reports as to the qiialities 
of the son, Curtin asked me to join him in an appeal 
to Governor Pollock to appoint yoimg Quay to the 

Pollock had a very weak side for the Presbyterian 
clergy; was very easily persuaded to issue the com- 
mission, and young Quay entered the prothonotary 's 
office when he was little over twenty-one years of 
age. That the appointment was a very acceptable 
one became evident, as Quay was elected to the office 
the following fall, and at the end of his first term 
was re-elected without serious contest. 

When Curtin became Governor he was naturally 
desirous to have a thoroughly competent private 
secretary, and he volimtarily tendered the appoint- 
ment to yoimg Quay, who promptly accepted and 
made his entry into the field of State politics with the 
beginning of Curtin 's administration. 

When I met him he did not at first impress me as a 
man of more than ordinary parts. He was extremely 
modest and tmassuming in manner, with a defective 
sight in one eye that made his face expressionless, 
excepting when very warmly aroused in conversation. 
Under ordinary conditions he might have filled the 
place of secretary to the Governor without com- 
manding the special attention of the political leaders 
of the State, but the most momentous events were 
crowded upon us at Harrisburg immediately after 
Curtin asstmied his official duties, and Quay soon 
became recognized as one of the most valuable of all 
the men connected with the administration in meet- 
ing sudden and severe emergencies. He possessed 
wonderfully keen perception, broad intelligence, and 
was nothing if not heroic when opportunity offered. 
He made no visible effort to advance himself or mag- 
nify his own importance. On the contrary, he was 

458 Old Time Notes 

very tinobtnisive and cotinseled only when he was 
invited, and he speedily developed into a most im- 
portant aid to the Governor. 

When war came, and Pennsylvania had scores of 
thousands of soldiers in the field, the rule was at once 
adopted by the Governor that every soldier's letter 
addressed to him should be answered, no matter how 
trivial or tmreasonable might be its request, and Quay 
was the man who executed to the letter that part of 
the new duties the Governor had accepted. Thou- 
sands of letters written to the Governor by soldiers, 
which the Governor never saw, were carefully read by 
Quay and as carefully answered with Curtin's signa- 
ture, written by Quay so perfectly that Curtin himself 
could not have disputed it. When important letters 
were received the Governor was consulted, and every 
such letter, whether from the humblest soldier or the 
highest commander, received prompt attention, and 
the wishes of the soldier were always compUed with 
if within the range of possibility. 

In Uke manner Quay issued the himdreds of military 
commissions which Curtin ordered, and signed the 
Governor's name to them, certified by the great seal 
of the Commonwealth. He was tireless in his devo- 
tion to his duties night and day, and there was no 
feature of administration policy that Quay did not as 
thoroughly understand as did Curtin himself, and the 
Governor and the entire cabinet soon learned to appre- 
ciate him as one of the most important members of 
the administration. 

He was especially valuable in devising ways and 
carrying into execution plans which often had to be 
adopted by the Governor in dealing with an imfriendly 
Legislature. He was personally popular with all the 
members of both branches regardless of their political 
faith, and when the elections of 1861 lost the Repub- 

Of Pennsylvania 459 

licans the control of the house he was an important 
factor in consummating the difficult combination that 
restored the Republicans to power by a combination 
with the War Democrats. 

He was then the same silent man that he ever 
remained even to the later days when he attained 
omnipotence in his party. No man could dictate more 
adroitly and satisfactorily the answers to the himdreds 
of letters the Governor at times received every day, 
and when it was necessary to give a political pointer 
to the press of the State he was not only always ready, 
but thoroughly equipped for the task. 

After he had served as private secretary to the 
Governor for nearly a year and a half a requisition 
was made on Peimsylvania for some seventeen or 
eighteen thousand troops. Quay was very desirous 
to go to the field in command of a regiment, and one 
from his section of the State was earnest in urging his 
appointment as colonel. The Governor, who was 
very reluctant to spare him, felt that it was due to 
Quay to give him the opportunity, and Quay went to 
the field. He had no chance while in command of 
his regiment to participate in any important battle. 
While McClellan was fighting the battle of Antietam 
General Humphrey's division, to which Quay's regi- 
ment belonged, made a forced march to reinforce 
the Army of the Potomac, and they reached the rear 
of McClellan 's army, after a whole day and nearly 
all-night march, not long before daylight the morning 
after the battle. I had been on the field during the 
conflict, and hearing that part of the Htmiphrey 
division had arrived I went to the rear immediately 
after breakfast and fotmd Quay, who had taken a few 
hours' sleep in his fatigue imiform and boots, expect- 
ing to be summoned into action immediately after day- 
light. In the early part of the day they were marched 

46o Old Time Notes 

on the field and placed in position, but to their 
surprise the order of battle was never given, and 
the armies of Lee and McClellan faced each other 
throughout the entire day without firing a hostile 
gun. On the following morning Lee's army had 
disappeared by marching quietly away during the 
night and recrossing the Potomac into Virginia with- 
out piu^uit. 

Quay remained with McClellan during his pro- 
tracted stay in Maryland and his sluggish march into 
Virginia and to Warren, where McClellan was relieved 
of command and Biunside succeeded him. 

About that time very serious complaints were made 
against the management of the military State agency 
at Washington. All of the Northern States had what 
was known as a military State agent located in Wash- 
ington, to whom all applications of soldiers for fur- 
loughs and various other matters of interest were 
referred by the Governors, and these agents had 
ready access to all of the Crovemment departments; 
and the complaints and requests of the soldiers were 
thus promptly considered and every favor extended 
to them that was consistent with the military service. 
It was a very important trust for Pennsylvania and 
reqtiired a man of thorough familiarity with routine 
government affairs, and who would zealously perform 
his exacting duties. A change was an absolute 
necessity, and Governor Curtin, after careftilly consid- 
ering the situation, decided that Colonel Quay was 
altogether the best equipped man for the place, and 
notified him that he would be appointed. 

Quay earnestly objected to leaving his command 
when it was probable that it wotild be engaged in 
battle before many weeks, but the necessities of the 
soldiers were so pressing that the Governor was 
peremptory in requiring Quay's acceptance. He for- 

Of Pennsylvania 461 

warded his resignation, giving the reason for it, and 
before the army reached Fredericksburg his resig- 
nation was accepted and he was mustered out of 

About the same time his regiment was paid off, 
and he remained at the earnest request of a number 
of his men to receive the money they wanted to send 
to their homes. Some $8,000 were thus deposited 
with him, which he obtained in notes of large denomi- 
nations and secured in a belt that he fastened upon 
his person. Just then the battle of Fredericksburg 
loomed up, and Quay was unwilling to leave. He 
volunteered to serve on General Tyler's staff, which 
brought him into the command that made the bloody 
and fruitless charge on St. Marie Heights. He went 
into that charge forgetful of the money belted upon 
his person, and was in the forefront of that sanguinary 
and utterly hopeless struggle, but he escaped without 
a scratch when nearly half the men who started 
out with him were among the dead or wounded 
when the retreat was ordered. He has been awarded 
the medal of honor for his heroic action at Fredericks- 
burg, and no man in the army ever more justly 
merited it. 

After Fredericksburg Quay assumed the duties of 
his office in Washington as military State agent, and 
held the position until the close of the war. 

In the fall of 1865 he was elected to the house and 
was at once accepted as the Republican leader of the 
party, as was emphasized by his appointment as 
chairman of ways and means. He gave notice at 
the opening of the session that all important State 
appropriations would be disposed of in time for an 
early adjournment, and he reported the general appro- 
priation bill earlier than it had been reported for 
many years and pressed it rapidly to final passage. 

462 Old Time Notes 

He seldom participated in debate beyond rising at 
times to make a brief explanation of some appro- 
priation, but no leader of a legislative body ever held 
its business more completely in hand or directed it 
more successfully and with little or no friction. 

In 1866 he was re-elected and was the leader of the 
Curtin forces in the Legislature. A United States 
Senator was to be elected and Curtin and Cameron 
were early in the field and locked horns for another 
desperate struggle for Senatorial honors. There were 
other candidates, including Galsuha A. Grow, J. Ken- 
nedy Moorehead, Thaddeus Stevens, Colonel Forney 
and some others of less note. A decided majority of 
the Republicans elected to the Legislature were either 
distinctly pledged or instructed to support Curtin 
for Senator. As Curtin was regarded as the most 
formidable of the candidates, Cameron, with his rare 
sagacity in manipulating political movements, was 
enabled to unite the field against Curtin in the organi- 
zation of the house. Quay was the accepted Curtin 
candidate for speaker, and had he been successful 
Curtin 's election would inevitably have followed. 
Quay and Curtin realized that they had a desperate 
battle for the speakership, and Cameron adroitly 
brought Stevens with his Lancaster delegation, Grow 
with his northern following, Moorehead with his 
western men, many of whom were pledged to Curtin 
for Senator, into the support of Representative Glass, 
of Allegheny, and Quay was defeated for the speaker- 
ship by the combination, and Cameron was in a posi- 
tion to reap all the profits of the victory. 

The contest for Senator was one of the most des- 
perate and demoralizing ever witnessed at Harrisburg 
since 1855. A number of legislators who were instructed 
for Curtin or publicly and solemnly pledged to sup- 
port him deserted to the Cameron fold, and several 

Of Pennsylvania 463 

days before the caucus met it was known to Curtin 
and Quay and their friends that Cameron would 
receive a majority in the Senatorial caucus. 

J. Donald Cameron first made himself felt as a very 
important political factor in that contest, as he directed 
the battle for his father *s election, and thereafter was 
the actual leader of the Cameron forces of the State. 
When he had a clear majority of the Republicans 
assured for the support of his father in the caucus he 
very shrewdly directed his efforts to prevent a bolt, 
as he apprehended that Curtin 's friends might make a 
combination with the Democrats and defeat the elder 
Cameron. He invited a conference with Quay, pre- 
sented the sitviation to him, declared that they had no 
purpose of ostracising the friends of Curtin, and 
appealed to Quay to harmonize the party by moving 
to make the nomination of Cameron unanimous after 
the majority had voted for him. 

I was present when Quay consulted with Curtin 
as to the course he should pursue, after stating frankly 
his interview with the younger Cameron, and said he 
would be guided by the advice that Curtin had to give. 
Curtin informed him that he did not intend to lead a 
bolt against the Republican party and declared that 
Quay was entirely free to exercise his own judgment 
in the matter. 

After further conferences with Cameron Qviay decided 
that he would move the unanimous nomination of the 
elder Cameron after the majority should declare in 
his favor in the caucus. Several other prominent 
supporters of Curtin were then sent for by Cameron 
and finally induced to follow Quay in the movement, 
among whom were Representatives EUsha W. Davis 
and Jacob E. Ridgway, of Philadelphia, neither of 
whom would have deserted Curtin and fallen into the 
support of Cameron if Curtin had decided to bolt 

464 Old Time Notes 

the caucus, and Cameron's election to the Senate 
followed by nearly a full party vote. 

Cameron's election to the Senate in 1867 made him 
absolute master of the political situation in Penn- 
sylvania, and from that day on until our own time 
the Cameron dynasty maintained its power, with 
Don Cameron succeeding his father and Quay suc- 
ceeding the younger Cameron. Cameron had tri- 
umphed in the Republican State convention of 1866 
by nominating Geary, who, when elected Governor, 
became the willing and earnest partisan of Cameron. 
Thus, with Cameron in the Senate and with the abso- 
lute control of the State authority, Cameron's tri- 
umph was complete. That it was not acceptable to 
the Republican people of the State was evidenced by 
the defeat of the party in the fall of 1867 ^s an echo 
of Cameron's election to the Senate by a Legislatxire 
that was pledged to Curtin. In that contest the 
late Chief Justice Sharswood was elected to the su- 
preme bench as the Democratic candidate against 
Justice Williams, of Pittsburg. 

Curtin and his friends were practically powerless 
in the State, and those who maintained their hostility 
to Cameron were systematically and severely punished 
in the legislative and congressional districts. It soon 
became known that there were very few congressional 
or senatorial districts in the State in which a Repub- 
lican could be nominated who was opposed to Cameron, 
and the men of ambition were simply compelled to 
choose between going along with the Cameron organi- 
zation or giving up all hope of political preferment. 
Quay was young, ambitious and sincerely devoted 
to the faith of the Republican party, and he gravitated 
along with the Cameron tide. 

The Republican State convention of 1868, the 
year after Cameron was elected to the Senate, had a 


Of Pennsylvania 


decided anti-Cameron majority, as may be judged by 
the fact that the delegation sent to Chicago to nomi- 
nate Grant for President made Colonel Fomey its 
chairman, and when he became ill in Chicago and 
imable to act, it chose me as chairman to take his 
place, and its anti-Cameron sentiment was ftirther 
emphasized by instructing the delegation to support 
Curtin for Vice-President. 

One of Grant's first appointments after entering 
the Presidency was that of Curtin as Minister to 
Russia, and Curtin was absent from the State for nearly 
four years, and as the National administration heartily 
supported Cameron in the matter of appointments 
the Curtin followers in the State gradvially drifted 
into a powerless element. 

When Curtin returned it was to lead a rebellion 
against the Republican organization in 1872, and 
that entirely obliterated Curtin as a factor in Repub- 
lican politics. Quay thus logically drifted into the 
Cameron political control of the State, and his later 
record as a Cameron lieutenant, and finally as leader of 
leaders, must illumine future chapters of these Old 
Time Notes of Pennsylvania, as no important political 
events in the State during the last quarter of a cen- 
tury can be truthfully written with Quay's name 

466 Old Time Notes 




Philadelphia Then the Great Emporitim of the Southern Trade — Dinner 
Given to the Author as Chairman of the Lincoln-Curtin State Com- 
mittee — Importunities Prom Business Interests Against Any 
Expressions Offensive to the South — Curtin's Deliverance was 
Regarded as Most Important, and it was Studiedly Conservative — 
MacVeagh's Plain Speech — Pennsylvania Militia Practically With- 
out Organization — Conference with Lincoln After the Surrender 
of Sumter — Curtin's Strong Organization — Washington and Balti- 
more Cut Off from the North — General Patterson Makes Requi- 
sition for 25,000 Additional Troops — Order Recalled by Secretary 
of War when Telegraph Line was Opened — Pennsylvania Reserve 
Corps Organized — Offered to the Government Before the Battle 
of Bull Rim, but Refused — Importunate Calls for the Reserves 
After the Defeat at Bull Run. 

ONLY the very few yet living who were in touch 
with public affairs in 1860-61, can have any just 
conception of the general sentiment of the North 
on the subject of fratricidal war. All classes and con- 
ditions shuddered at the idea of such a conflict, and 
the whole North was appalled at the prospect of a 
bloody sectional struggle. After the election of Lin- 
coln there was a general cessation of public political 
discussion, as all seemed to await developments, not 
knowing what grave problems would be presented for 

Curtin gave no public utterance on the political situa- 
tion after the election of Lincoln until he was called 
upon to appear, in the early part of December, i860, 
at a public dinner given to me at the Continental 
Hotel as a compliment for the successful direction of 

Of Pennsylvania 467 

the Lincoln-Ctirtin campaign. There were over 400 
guests, embracing the leading men of the party from 
every section of the State, and Morton McMichael 
presided. None of the Southern vStates had seceded 
at that time, but it was well known that South Caro- 
lina wotild formally declare her relations with the 
Union severed within a few days, and that all of the 
Cotton States were certain to follow. The hope of 
those then responsibly charged with the direction of 
affairs in the Northern States was that Virginia, North 
Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee might be held in 
loyalty to the Union, and it was deemed an imperative 
duty to strengthen the Union sentiment in those States 
by the most generous and forbearing policy toward 
the South. 

Philadelphia was so conservative on the sectional 
issue that a majority of some 2,000 was given against 
Curtin, although Lincoln was given a decided majority 
in November when his election was inevitable. Phila- 
delphia was then the great emporium of Southern com- 
merce, and her merchants were compelled to face the 
fearful problem of sacrificing millions of dollars due 
from their Southern customers. I well remember the 
interview between committee after committee of Phila- 
delphia business men with Curtin and myself during 
the day on the evening of which the dinner was to be 
given. Any public expression from Curtin imder the 
circtmistances would be of the widest National interest, 
and I never heard more earnest appeals made to any 
man than were made to Curtin by the commercial 
interests of Philadelphia to avoid offensive expressions 
in his speech at the dinner. 

Of course, as the guest of honor I was expected to 
speak somewhat elaborately, but it was well known 
that whatever I might say would be in entire accord 
with the utterances of my chief. It was not a question 

463 Old Time Notes 

of sentiment with the business men of Ffnlad^^iia. 
With many of them it was a qtiestion cf bankruptcy, 
and none seemed to see beyond the dark ckiud of civil 
war the sli^test silver linmg to give promise of future 

The speeches delivered by Curtin and myself were 
not in any degree changed by the appeals erf the Phila- 
delphia business men. Governor Curtin well under- 
stood that any address from him that could be even 
distorted into a wanton provocation of the South 
wotdd be overwhelmingly condemned. All still hoped 
that in some way civil war could be averted, and as 
long as that hope was cherished it was the plain and 
imperious duty of all in authority in Pennsylvania to 
interpose no needless obstacles for the restoration of 
peaceful relations between the sections. 

The portions of both our speeches relating to the 
threatened civil war were carefully prepared so that 
they could not be misunderstood or misinterpreted, 
and they were but a very small portion of each address. 
There was an ample field for the speakers of the occa- 
sion to cover without asstuning the role of prophesy 
as to civil war, or without utterances which could 
be accepted by the South as a direct menace to the 
tranquillity of the nation. The speeches declared 
imqualifiedly that every constitutional right of the 
South must be sacredly maintained, and the most 
generous comity between sister commonwealths should 
be accepted for the fulfillment of every lawful obliga- 
tion, and the question of civil war was not discussed 
beyond the simple declaration that the unity of the 
States must be preserved regardless of the necessary 

It was not at all a hilarious dinner, as all were sobered 
by the terrible apprehension of civil war and the 
general disruption of all commercial and business inter- 

Of Pennsylvania 469 

ests of the country. Mr. McMichael opened the speech- 
making by one of the ablest of his many able deliver- 
ances, and as he had been one of the most active of 
the business men of the city in conferring with Curtin 
and others who were to speak, as to the necessity of 
carefully guarded expressions on the sectional issue, 
he set the pace for all by declaring for full and generous 
justice to every section of the coimtry, followed by 
the declaration that the maintenance of the unity 
of the Republic was the paramotmt duty of every 

There were many imusually able speeches, as the 
vast company remained tmtil long after the midnight 
hour, and not one of the speakers uttered an offensive 
criticism of the South, while all were very positive in 
the expression that the Union was indivisible and must 
be so maintained. 

Some time about one o'clock, when President Mc- 
Michael arose and was about to declare the adjourn- 
ment, a young man arose in a distant part of the room 
from the chairman, and asked to be briefly heard. I 
had never met him, and his slender frame and gen- 
erally youthful appearance indicated that a sophomoric 
infliction was in store for us. This yoimg man was 
Wayne McVeagh, of West Chester, since then Foreign 
Minister and Attorney General of the United States, 
but then little known outside of Chester Coimty. His 
voice rang out clear and made his positive expressions 
on the sectional issue command the attention of every 
one present. He bravely told the truth about the 
utterances of the evening, that they were constrained, 
and, as he feared, might be misleading, and in fifteen 
or twenty minutes of eloquence that not only surprised 
but commanded the admiration of all his hearers, he 
declared that the South was in causeless rebellion, and 
that the North must meet it and declare its purpose to 

47 o Old Time Notes 

accept civil war if necessary. His remarks grated 
harshly upon the conservative commercial interests so 
largely represented, but all felt that he had uttered the 
truth, and while many regretted it because it was 
deemed inexpedient, all profoimdly respected not only 
the ability, but the courage and manliness of the 

Pennsylvania had only a nominal militia system at 
that time. The military committee of the senate, of 
which I was then chairman, had not met for years, and 
the people of the State had ceased to feel any interest 
in maintaining the militia. Our laws required that 
all citizens subject to military duty should meet once 
a year for miUtary drill, and what were known as the 
militia reviews were maintained only in the most 
farcical way. The most important centers had one or 
more uniformed volunteer companies which graced 
Fourth of July celebrations and other ceremonial 
occasions, but we were practically without any trained 
military force in the State. 

I prepared a bill for the reorganization of our militia 
with an appropriation of $500,000, but it was deemed 
inexpedient to press it to passage, as it would be pro- 
claimed as a public threat of war on the South, and it 
was allowed to sltunber until Simiter was fired upon, 
and despatches telling the appalling story of the pro- 
gress of the bombardment of Sumter's starving garri- 
son were read from tmie to time by the clerk of the 

Lincoln summoned Curtin and myself to Washington 
in the evening, and we took the first train and were at 
the White House at ten o'clock the following morning. 
War was then upon us, and Pennsylvania was the 
State of all the Northern Commonwealths whose atti- 
tude would be looked to with the greatest interest both 
North and South, alike because of her material power 

Of Pennsylvania 471 

and her immediate interests in a war that would prob- 
ably reach her own border. 

A brief conference with the President, General Scott 
and Secretary of War Cameron settled the attitude 
that Pennsylvania should assume. Curtin had given 
the matter the most careful reflection, and his views 
were accepted without modification. We returned 
from Washington the same day and that night passed 
the bill through both branches, and it had Ciutin's 
official approval before the dawn of another day. 

The President's call for troops had been responded 
to by all the Northern States offering vastly more than 
could be accepted, and Peimsylvania offered the largest 
excess over her quota. 

Notwithstanding the fact that both sections were 
raising great armies to support their respective flags, 
it was very generally believed that war could be 
averted, and even those who could see no possible 
solution of the issue hoped against hope. The Peace 
Commission was in session at Washington, and Crit- 
tenden, in the House, and John Bell and Andrew 
Johnson, in the Senate, spealong for the South, were 
making exhaustive efforts for pacification. 

The Legislature had performed all its important 
State duties when Simiter was fired upon, and, after 
appropriating half a million for the reorganization of 
the militia, and seeing that Pennsylvania offered 
enough, and more than enough, troops herself to fill 
the whole requisition made by the general government 
upon the States, the Legislature adjourned sine die on 
the 1 8th of April, less than a week after the surrender 
of Simiter; but almost immediately after the legis- 
lative adjournment new conditions suddenly arose by 
an eruption of the Southern supporters in Baltimore, 
that not only made the city the prey of the mob, but 
destroyed the railway and telegraph lines between 

472 Old Time Notes 

Washington and the North, and stopped all railway 
and telegraph commtinications with Washington for 
nearly three days. 

Governor Ctirtin at once summoned the Legislature 
to meet in extraordinary session on the 30th of April, 
jtist twelve days after adjournment, and it then became 
necessary for him to speak with emphasis for Pennsyl- 
vania, defining her attitude in the terrible struggle that 
confronted her. Curtin at once gathered around him 
a staff of very capable men. Reuben C. Hale, a promi- 
nent Democrat, of Lewistown, was made quarter- 
master general, and General Irwin, of Beaver, was made 
commissary general. These men had important duties 
to perform, and were in the regular military service 
of the State, but Curtin *s personal aids were with him 
day and night, and embraced some of the ablest men 
of the State. Among them were Colonel Thomas A. 
Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad; Colonel John A. 
Wright, the head of the large steel works near Lewis- 
town; J. Brown Parker, of Carlisle, a leading member 
of the bar, and Francis Jordan, of Bedford, formerly 
senator and later secretary of the commonwealth. 
Fitz John Porter, then a major on General Scott's staff, 
who had been sent on by Scott to Harrisburg before the 
commtmications were interrupted, to report to General 
Patterson, just made commander of the Department 
of Pennsylvania, was one of the circle of men who were 
called upon to act in the darkest days of our Civil War, 
when Pennsylvania was cut off from the Capital, and 
when a day's delay in important action might be fatal. 

I can never forget the earnestness and solemnity of 
the conference held in the Executive chamber at which 
all the gentlemen of Curtin 's personal staff, whom I 
have named, were present, with General Patterson and 
Major Fitz John Porter. Troops were moving rapidly 
toward Washington from the West, but we could get 



• •• 

• *• 

• ••» 

of Pennsylvania 473 

no information from either Baltimore or Washington, 
and it was accepted as necessary for the present to halt 
the volunteers at a safe distance from Baltimore. A 
large ntimber were pushed on as far as York and there 
halted. Colonel Scott gave his whole attention to 
handling the troops on his railway, then but a single 
track, and I saw him sit for thirty-six hours by his 
battery in the Executive department, during which 
time he ran every train on his road west of Harrisburg 
out on schedule time and never even made a memo- 
randum. When not engaged in telegraphing orders 
for variotis trains he participated freely in the confer- 
ence. General Patterson, a veteran of two wars and 
commander of the department, was naturally looked to 
for controlling advice as to how to meet the perilotis 
situation. He thought it probable that Beauregard 
would march from Charlestown upon Washington, as 
Beauregard could have done without diffictdty, and 
entrench himself in the Capital of the nation. When 
asked what his plans were, he said, without waiting for 
authority from a government which he could not reach, 
that he regarded it as his duty to make a requisition 
upon Gk)vemor Curtin for 25,000 additional troops to 
serve for three years or during the war, and in a very 
few minutes it was decided that the requisition should 
be made. The clerks speedily put Patterson's requi- 
sition in form, and he signed it and delivered it to the 
Governor, and thirty minutes later the proclamation, 
prepared by Curtin himself, was signed and given to 
the Associated Press, calling for vohmteers to fill the 
requisition for 25,000 men made by the commander 
of the department. 

Some time dtiring the early morning hours George 
H. Moore, then clerk of the quarter sessions of Phila- 
delphia, and an associate, whose name I do not recall, 
reached the Executive chamber and brought us news 

474 Old Time Notes 

from Washington twenty-four hotirs old. They had 
taken a circnitoiis route to Harper's Ferry, then by 
Hagerstown and Chambersbnrg to Harrisburg. The 
only news they brought us was that there was no infor- 
mation of Beauregard marching upon Washington, 
but that there was tmiversal demoralization in the 
Capital, and general apprehension that it would be 
captured within a week or ten days. 

The next question to be determined at this memor- 
able conference was what to do with the many thou- 
sands of troops which were accumulated between Har- 
risburg and York, with thousands more on their way 
from the West. 

General Patterson was somewhat conservative, and 
he advised that the troops should be moved so as not 
to come in conflict with Baltimore, and I shall ever 
remember the flash that came from the keen, dark 
eyes of Fitz John Porter when he answered Patterson, 
that if he had command of those troops he ''would 
march them to the National Capital through Baltimore 
or over its ashes." 

Patterson decided to take no action until he could 
hear from Washington, and the following day tele- 
graph commtinication was restored. 

The first message sent from Harrisburg was from 
Curtin stating that General Patterson had made a 
requisition upon him for 25,000 additional troops; 
that he had issued a call for them, and that the quota 
would be filled within twenty-four hours, needing only 
to be concentrated and organized. To the utter sur- 
prise of both Curtin and Patterson, the first response 
from Washington was notice that the troops could not 
be accepted, as they were not needed. 

Curtin and Patterson joined in the most earnest 
appeal to the government to accept the troops to be 
organized imder Patterson's requisition, and Senator 

Of Pennsylvania 475 

Sherman, who came to Harrisburg to volimteer as an 
aid on General Patterson's staff, hastened back to 
Washington, as the representative of General Patter- 
son and the Governor, to urge the acceptance of the 
troops, but Secretary Cameron was resolute in his 
refusal. It was one of the very few mistakes that Cam- 
eron made in the practical direction of public affairs, 
but he shared the general conviction of army officers ^ 
and of our public men generally that there could be no 
protracted war; that at the most not more than one 
general engagement would take place without bringing 
about some adjustment between North and South, 
and the question of expense was then a fearful one to 
contemplate, as it was with the greatest difficulty that 
the first $50,000,000 loan of the government could be 
negotiated at all on favorable terms. When the first 
loan of $50,000,000 was finally consummated after 
extraordinary efforts, through the financiers of the 
cotmtry, the representative men who handled the loan 
gave distinct notice that the credit of the government 
could not be maintained if additional loans were re- 
quired. Financial conditions had doubtless much to 
do in deciding the government authorities to restrain 
expenditures to the uttermost. 

The refusal of the government to accept the troops 
called by General Patterson's requisition placed the 
Governor in a most embarrassing position. His call 
for the voltmteers was published in all the papers 
of the State the morning after he had issued it, and 
long before the night of the same day twice or thrice 
the nimiber called for were offered by telegrams cover- 
ing every section of the State. The call for troops 
gave notice that immediate transportation would be 
furnished for volunteers to Harrisburg, where they 
would be organized, and some thousands of them 
were on their way to the Capital within twenty-four 

476 Old Time Notes 

hours after they heard of tl^ call. Camp Cttrtin was 
organized and temporary provision made for them, 
but what was the Governor to do with them? To send 
them home would have been to chill the tidal wave of 
patriotism that had brought them so hastily to the 
defense of the country, and Curtin and Patterson were 
entirely convinced {hat the safety of Pennsylvania 
itself demanded that they should be organized as a 
State corps, thoroughly oflScered, given some military 
training, and then be subject to the call of the State or 
National government as emergency might require. 

When the Legislature met in extraordinary session 
on the 30th of April, Curtin presented all the facts 
relating to his call for troops, and apypealed to the 
Legislattu^ to organize a Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. 
The Legislature promptly responded, provided a loan 
to defray the necessary expenses, and the Pennsylvania 
Reserves, whose heroism has made lustrous nearly 
every battlefield of the Army of the Potomac after the 
first defeat at Bull Run, were carefully officered, 
organized and placed in camps in different sections of 
the State, entirely at the expense of the State. The 
law under which they were organized provided that 
they should first be sworn into the service of the State, 
but that they should be subject to the call of the 
government at any time, when they would be mustered 
into the National service . The most competent officers 
were employed by the Gk^vemor to train the Reserves 
in their various camps, and the strictest discipline was 
enforced from the start. 

Early in Jime, when it was known that a forward 
movement of McDowell's army was to be made against 
Manassas, Governor Curtin had some 16,000 thoroughly 
organized volimteers in Pennsylvania, and most of 
them as well, if not better, disciplined than the three 
months' voltmteers in McDowell's army. He wrote 

Of Pennsylvania 477 

to the War Department advising it that he had this 
force in Pennsylvania that could be utilized in part or 
in whole in the coming battle at Manassas, but the 
proffer was not accepted. One of the regiments, com- 
manded by Colonel Biddle, of Philadelphia, was finally 
accepted and ordered to the Potomac near Hancock, 
and another of the regiments was called into service 
somewhere on the upper Potomac. 

When the battle of Bull Rtm was fought and Mc- 
Dowell's army retreated in confusion into the defenses 
of Washington, Curtin received more than a hundred 
telegrams from the President, the War Department, and 
from public men in Washington, most of them, however, 
from Colonel Thomas A. Scott, then Assistant Secre- 
tary of War, pleading most earnestly for him to hasten 
his Reserves to Washington for the protection of the 
Capital. He was urged to move them night and day 
from the distant points of the State, and enforce pre- 
ference on all the railroads to speed their march for 
the protection of the government that had refused 
them, and that could not have failed to win a decisive 
victory at Manassas had the Pennsylvania Reserves 
been added to McDowell's command. 

The Reserves were then immediately mustered into 
the National service, and all the expenses of the State 
incurred in the organization, drilling and support of 
the corps were repaid by the government. Never 
were more welcome sotmds heard in the National Capital 
than the tread of the Pennsylvania Reserves as they 
marched down Pennsylvania avenue after McDowell 
had retreated into the Washington fortifications, as 
their presence assured the safety of the Capital. 

47^ Old Time Notes 


One of the Most Desperate Struggles of Oar Legislative History — ^Bitteriy 
Opposed by the General Hostility to Corporatkms, Although 
Faith of the State Pledged to the Repeal — Col. Scott's Heroic 
EfforU to Organize the State and Make His Railway a Through 
Line — Deadlock in the Senate for Several Weeks — Interesting 
Debate in the Senate on the Final Passage ol the BiD — Penny 
and Clymer Lead to Fight Against It — ^The Measure Qearly Right, 
but Opposed by Violent Popular Prejudice — Many Legislators 
Fell Who Supported the Bill — Its Final Passage Opened the Way 
for Pennsylvania Advancing. 

THE most important question before the Legisla- 
ttire of 1 86 1, outside of items of absorbing in- 
terest relating to the war, was the proposition to 
repeal the tax imposed upon the tonnage of the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad. 

When the company was chartered in 1846, after a 
bitter contest with the Baltimore & Ohio Railway 
Company, seeking the right of way through Pennsyl- 
vania to the West, the friends of each of the con- 
tending corporations sought to impose the severest 
restrictions upon the franchise of its competitor, and 
it was not difficult for the friends of the Baltimore 
& Ohio, with the very general and deep-seated preju- 
dice that prevailed among the people of the State 
against all corporations, to insert a provision in the 
Pennsylvania charter requiring them to pay a tax of 
five mills per ton per mile on all freight carried upon 
its line. As the Pennsylvania Railroad paralleled the 
State canals, the tax upon tonnage was inserted osten- 
sibly for the protection of the State works, and as 

Of Pennsylvania 479 

great through lines from the East to the far West 
were then hardly contemplated, little objection was 
made to this extraordinary tax. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad was expected to be 
practically a local line, and as it charged the full tax 
to those who transported freight over it, it was a tax 
upon the people rather than upon the corporation; 
but viewed from the present advancement of rail- 
ways, when the great Pennsylvania corporation re- 
ceives only about five mills per ton per mile for its 
entire freight traffic, the utter absurdity of maintain- 
ing such a tax will be tmder stood, as even a quarter 
of such a tax imposed to-day would prohibit the 
Pennsylvania Company from competing with its 
great tnmk rivals north and south for Western 

When the railroad had got into operation, and the 
transporters discovered that they were simply paying 
the tax to the State if they used the Pennsylvania 
line, while all transporters on the other railroad lines 
of the State paid no such tax, the revulsion of public 
sentiment began on the subject, and the Legislature 
reduced the tax from five mills to three mills per ton 
per mile. As our industries were developed it was 
fotmd impossible for our coal or lumber industries to 
transport their products to market in competition 
with other sections unless the tax was repealed, and 
the Legislature, after an earnest struggle, repealed 
the tax on coal and lumber. 

As I explained in a former chapter, the Pennsyl- 
vania Company expected to be relieved of this tax 
by the bill imder whose provisions it purchased the 
main line of the State, but the supreme cotirt declared 
that feature of the act unconstitutional, and the Penn- 
sylvania Company was compelled to accept the State 
works with the tonnage tax remaining. In the mean- 

480 Old Time Notes 

time Philadelphia began to reach oat for Western 
trade in competition with New York and Baltimore, 
both with untaxed trunk lines north and south, but 
it was impossible for Philadelphia to obtain a fair 
share of it. 

The question was brought up before the Legislature 
year after year and the ablest of arguments ^were 
deUvered time and again by William B. Foster, vice- 
president ; Theodore Cuyler, solicitor for the company, 
and by others, but, while none could reasonably 
dispute that the tax was an arbitrary prohibition of 
Pennsylvania commerce, the general feeling against 
corporations throughout the State was so intense that 
no Legislature cotdd venture to repeal the tax on 

As I have explained in a former chapter, the company 
contested the constitutionality of the tax, carrying it 
through all the courts, during which time over $800,- 
000 of taxes had accimitilated, but the supreme court 
could do no less than sustain the act of the Legislature 
that had been accepted by the corporation, and in 
the session of i860, when the Pennsylvania Company 
was sorely pressed by the general business revulsion 
that began in 1857, and when it could not have paid 
the amount without very serious financial embarrass- 
ment, an imderstanding was reached by which the 
whole question was delayed for a year, and the leading 
friends of Curtin were pledged to support the repeal 
after his election as Governor. 

Although Colonel Scott had conducted one of the 
most vigorous and comprehensive educational cam- 
paigns during the entire year of i860 by elaborate 
publications in nearly all of the newspapers of the 
State at considerable cost, and with all the attention 
he had given in support of the election of many Legis- 
lative candidates, when the Legislature convened 

Of Pennsylvania 497 

crats were elected to the House by the support of the 

Governor Curtin visited Washington certainly half a 
dozen times during the fall of 1861 to urge the vigorous 
prosecution of the war. President Lincoln and War 
Secretary Cameron both shared Curtin 's anxiety, and, 
although the weather was tmusually favorable through- 
out the fall for army movements, with excellent 
roads, the Army of the Potomac remained in its Wash- 
ington camp until midwinter, when McClellan suffered 
a severe attack of illness, and the President assimied 
the responsibiUty of ordering a general advance of the 
army on the 2 2d of February, 1862. That order was 
withdrawn when~the President reluctantly yielded to 
General McClellan 's assurances that the advance would 
be made at an early day. Finally the movement was 
made upon Manassas, which was foimd deserted by 
the Confederate forces, with the defences moimted with 
wooden imitation gims. 

Governor Curtin inaugtirated his wonderful system 
for the care of the Pennsylvania soldiers in the field 
and in the hospitals early in the fall of 186 1. He ap- 
pointed commissioners representing the State to visit 
soldiers in the field, and especially sick and wotmded 
in the hospitals, and see that they had every necessary 
provision for their comfort. I have stated in a former 
chapter that every Pennsylvania soldier who addressed 
a letter on any subject, however trivial, received a direct 
answer from the Executive chamber over the name of 
the Governor, and he was entirely in advance of all the 
Northern executives in making provision for the care of 
our State troops. He carried fiiat theory to the extent 
of early legislation providing for the body of every Penn- 
sylvania soldier who died on the field, in a hospital, or 
anywhere in the military service, to be brought home 
at the expense of the State for btirial with his kindred. 

498 Old Time Notes 

Ctirtin*s affection for his soldiers was that of the 
most loving father for his own children. A man dad 
in his cotmtry's blue, although without insignia of 
command, always was the first of the visitors admitted 
into the Executive chamber. It soon became well 
tmderstood throughout the Pennsylvania portion of 
the army that Governor Curtin was the "Soldiers* 
Friend/' and by that title he was known not only to 
every Pennsylvanian in the service, but in the home 
of every soldier in the G>mmonwealth. 

No matter how grave or exacting were his official 
duties, the presence of a soldier, however htmible, 
always received welcome and attention, and it was the 
grateful appreciation of this devotion of Curtin to the 
Pennsylvania soldiers that re-elected him in 1863, 
when some 70,000 Permsylvania soldiers were not 
permitted to vote for Governor, as the amendment to 
otff Constitution permitting soldiers to vote in the 
field was not accomplished imtil 1864. The soldiers 
could not vote for Ctutin's re-election themselves, but 
earnest appeals came to the home of nearly every 
soldier of the State urging fathers, brothers and friends 
to support the Soldiers' Friend for re-election, and 
thus, while Pennsylvania troops were disfranchised, it 
is quite probable that they exerted even a greater 
influence upon the election, by bringing Democratic 
relatives and friends to the support of Curtin, than if 
they had been permitted to vote themselves. 

If a despatch or a letter came to the Governor, even 
from the most distant section of the Union, telling 
the story of a sick or woimded soldier who needed 
attention, it was the first matter to be disposed of, and 
always in favor of the soldier to the uttermost. 

I was one of the party that accompanied him when 
he delivered the State flags to the Pennsylvania Re- 
serves at Tennallytown, in the presence of President 

Of Pennsylvania 499 

Lincoln, General McClellan, Secretary Cameron and a 
host of other dignitaries, and the affection exhibited 
by the soldiers, officers and privates, as he gave them 
their State standards, and expressed his entire confi- 
dence that they would bring them back with honor, was 
one of the most beautiful spectacles I ever witnessed. 
When he had completed his work, passing from regi- 
ment to regiment and handing each the standard of the 
State, he was quite overcome as the last flag passed 
into the hands of the commander of a regiment. With 
quivering lips and tear-dimmed eyes he raised his hand 
and said: **God bless you and preserve the flag." 

After the flags had been delivered, a ceremony that 
was witnessed by a considerable portion of the army, a 
party consistinrj of eight or ten, headed by McClellan 
and Lincoln, rode arotmd the entire army of the 
Potomac on horseback, a journey that occupied more 
than half the day. The only important feature of 
that ride, as I recall it, was the incident of McClellan 
stopping the entire party at one point and calling Mr. 
Lincoln's attention to the fact that they were for the 
first time outside of the Union lines, that is, beyond 
the Union pickets, although the Union picket line was 
not far in our rear. President Lincoln answered in his 
quaint way, that he thought it would be a very good 
place to leave, in which the entire party, including 
General McClellan, heartily concurred. 

Curtin did not leave a single Pennsylvania regiment 
un visited on that occasion, and I well remember the 
satisfaction that all felt the evening after the work 
of the day and the journey had been accomplished, 
because of the superb organization of the Army of the 
Potomac by McClellan, which, as we believed, would 
capture Richmond before the frosts of autumn came 
again. How sadly all were disappointed is a story too 
well known to all to need repetition. 

500 Old Time Notes 


Inaction of the Army Strengthened Opposition to the War — No State 
Ticket to Elect in Pennsylvania — ^The Author, as Chairman of the 
State Committee, with the Approval of Cnrtin, Made Combination 
with War Democrats — John Rowe of Franklin, John Scott of 
Huntingdon, Cyrus L. Pershing of Cambria, and Other War Demo- 
crats Nominated for the Legislature by the Republicans — War 
Democrats Held the Balance of Power in the House — Republicans 
Unite with Them and Make Rowe Speaker — Hopkins and Williams 
Lead in an Investigation of the Passage of the Repeal of the Ton- 
nage Tax — An Able and Clean Committee Appointed — Col. Scott 
then Assistant Secretary of War — Efforts to get Him as a Witness — 
Sergeant-at-Arms Sent Several Times to Subpoena Scott, but 
after a Conference with Scott Reported that Scott could not be 
Found — Williams Appeals to Secretary Stanton — Senator Wilmot 
Carried the Case Frankly to President Lincoln — Scott Ordered to 
the Army in the Southwest. 

THE adjoximment of the Legislature of 1861 left 
the State in a most confused and unprom- 
ising political condition. Pennsylvania at that 
time was not a Republican State. If Curtin had been 
nominated as a distinct Republican candidate for Gov- 
ernor in i860 his defeat would have been inevitable, 
and it was only by holding the old Whigs, the Know 
Nothings, the radical Republicans and the anti- slavery 
Democrats in some sort of united battle line tmder the 
flag of the People's party that the defeat of the Dem- 
ocrats was assured in i860 and in the two previous 

In the positive Republican States the war was 
popular, but in Pennsylvania, with the Democrats 
next to solid against coercing the South by war, most 
of the Know Nothings cherishing the same convictions. 

Of Pennsylvania 501 

and a very large proportion of the Republicans unwill- 
ing to accept fratricidal war unless it should be abso- 
lutely unavoidable, our State did not present the 
earnestness in support of the war policy of the gov- 
ernment that was exhibited in Ohio, New York and 
the New England States. The disastrous defeat at 
Bull Run in June and the failure of the army to gain 
any important achievements tmtil after the election 
in the fall of 1861, gave us next to a hopeless political 
condition in Pennsylvania. 

Fortunately there were no State officers to be elected 
and no State convention to be held to embarrass us 
by the declarations of our platform. The same 
political conditions existed in Indiana and Illinois, 
but fortunately neither of them had State officers to 
be elected, although Illinois elected members to a 
constitutional convention in which the Democrats 
had a large majority. In New York the opposition 
to the Democracy united, as they had done in Penn- 
sylvania, on three of the four State officers to be 
chosen, and elected them by over 100,000 majority, 
but on the office of canal commissioner the Republi- 
cans refused to accept the Union candidate, who was 
practically the Know Nothing representative, and the 
Democrats filled that office by a majority of nearly 
20,000. Ohio elected Tod, Union Republican, Gov- 
ernor, by 55,000, and Maryland elected Bradford, Union, 
Governor, with a decided Union majority in both 
branches of the Legislature. 

In Pennsylvania the contest was only for members 
of the Legislature and cotmty offices, and with the 
discordant elements which made up the People's party 
and the rebelUous feeling against the record of the 
last Legislature, especially in the repeal of the tonnage 
tax, the political conditions in the State seemed utterly 
hopeless for the Republicans. 

502 Old Time Notes 

Having been chairman of the People's State com- 
mittee in the State and National contests of i860, my 
position continued tmtil a new State convention met 
with power to fill the place. With a discordant party 
that cotdd not be made cohesive, and the grievous dis- 
appointments because of the army's defeat, with 
Pennsylvania's exposed condition as a border State, 
there was very general unrest and distrust throughout 
the Commonwealth. I was left practically in. charge of 
the party organization, with no State convention to 
relieve me of my responsible duties, or to declare 
the policy of the party. 

The only important officers to be chosen at the election 
of that year were members of the Lregislature. It 
was most important that the Legislature should be 
held in harmony with the administration, but very 
early in the year it became evident that only by extra- 
ordinary efforts and combinations could the control of 
the house be maintained. The landslides of 1859 and 
'60 had made the senate largely Republican, but it 
was of vital moment to hold control of the house, 
and after giving the State a most careful investigation 
by direct inquiry with reliable men in every cotmty, I 
was fully satisfied that tmless we could make a com- 
bination with the new element of War Democrats, 
the Democrats would elect a majority of the popular 
branch of the Legislature. 

There were a half-dozen or more legislative districts 
which could be carried only with the aid of the Demo- 
crats who preferred loyalty to the government to 
loyalty to the party, and after the State had been 
fully covered by inquiries to and answers from the 
most reliable men, I proposed to Governor Curtin that 
we should assure control of the house by nominating 
a number of promient War Democrats in Republican 
or doubtful districts. The matter was fully discussed 

Of Pennsylvania 503 

and the plan approved. I hastened to inaugurate 
it by calling an unusually early convention in my own 
county of Franklin, and placed at the head of the 
Republican ticket ex-Surveyor General John Rowe, 
who had just retired from the office of surveyor gen- 
eral to which he had been elected by the Democrats, 
but he had never, in any way, severed his relations 
with his party. There were then a number of very 
positive supporters of the war among the Democrats, 
and Major Rowe was one of them. 

When the People's Union convention of Franklin 
County led off with a Democrat of State reputation 
as the Republican nominee for the Legislature, without 
asking any pledges from him other than to give loyal 
support to the government, like movements were 
made in a number of the legislative districts. John 
Scott, afterwards Republican United States Senator, 
but then a Democratic leader in Huntingdon, and a 
positive supporter of the war, was nominated by the 
Republicans in Htmtingdon, and Cyrus L. Pershing, 
another leading Democrat in Cambria, who had been a 
Democratic member of the house, and who, later, 
served with eminent distinction for many years as 
president judge of Schuylkill Cotmty, was made the 
Republican candidate in Cambria, and Mr. Pfoutz, 
another Democrat, was made a Republican candidate 
in Adams. 

This liberal action on the part of the Republicans 
brought to the support of legislative candidates a 
large Democratic war element, and every one of the 
Democrats thus nominated by the Republicans was 
elected. As between the old parties the majority of 
the members elected to the house were Democrats, 
but enough War Democrats were chosen to enable 
them to hold the balance of power, and the house was 
fortunately organized by a combination with the 

S04 Old Time Notes 

Republicans and War Democrats, with Major Rowe, 
from my own coimty, elected speaker. 

William H. Armstrong, of Lycoming, then the 
leading attorney in the West Branch region, was a 
member of the house and was the logical candidate of 
the Republican or People *s party for the speakership, 
and his high character and abiHty made him the party 
leader without dispute; but, appreciating, as he did, 
the necessity of bringing the War Democrats into 
hearty accord with the administration, State and 
National, he volimtarily decUned to be a candidate 
for speaker and supported the combination that gave 
the War Democrats the speakership. 

Major Rowe was not new in legislative duties, as 
he had been twice elected by the Democrats to the 
house from Franklin Coimty in 1852-53. He was a 
man thoroughly fitted for the position, and his tmblem- 
ished integrity and always courteous discharge of 
the duties of the chair made him one of the most 
popular of the many presiding officers of the body. 

But for this combination made between the Repub- 
licans and the War Democrats, by which prominent 
War Democrats were placed on the Republican ticket, 
the popular branch of the Legislature would certainly 
have been Democratic and serious embarrassment 
would have been suffered in the effort to give cordial 
legislative support to the National government and 
the war. 

The revolt against the bill repealing the tonnage tax 
of the Pennsylvania Railroad contributed very largely 
to aid the Democrats in the contest of 1 86 1 , and the 
new Legislature was overwhelmingly in favor of repeal- 
ing the act of the previous Legislature releasing the 
Pennsylvania corporation from tonnage taxes. Cer- 
tainly three-fourths of the members of the house 
were in favor of such repeal; in the senate on the 

k • '4 • » 


•• • 

Of Pennsylvania 505 

direct question of the repeal the vote stood twenty- 
two for repeal to eleven against it, and this ebtilUtion 
of popular hostihty, inspired chiefly by deep-seated 
prejudice against all corporate interests, was directed 
against a policy that was absolutely indispensable to 
our State unless we desired to drive the entire com- 
merce from the teeming wealth of the West away 
from Philadelphia, our great commercial emporium. 
There never was a measure before the Legislature of 
the State that was more clearly right in every feature 
of its merits, and it was an imperious necessity, tmless 
we decided to exclude the great commerce of the West 
entirely from the use of our railways and of our lead- 
ing city as an important center of Western trade; but 
with all these facts facing intelligent legislators the 
house was wildly enthusiastic on the question of the 
repeal, and it would have been utterly idle to attempt 
to prevent it. 

I harve already stated in a former chapter how the 
repeal passed the house by a four-fifths vote and was 
defeated in the Senate by legislative strategy; but 
intense as was the interest felt in both branches on the 
question of repealing the tonnage taxes, still greater 
interest was exhibied on every hand by the move- 
ment to investigate the alleged corrupt methods em- 
ployed to pass the bill in the Legislature at the pre- 
vious session. 

It was known before the Legislature met that the 
demand for investigation would come from William 
Hopkins, of Washington, an old, experienced legis- 
lator, and a man of much more than ordinary ability 
and imfaltering integrity. He was a candidate for 
the Democratic nomination for Governor, and, while 
he was not of the class of demagogues who would have 
inaugurated an investigation without believing that 
it was imperatively demanded, it was certaiidy ex- 

So6 Old Time Notes 

pected by himself and his friends that the exhaustive 
investigation and feariess report he must make would 
not fail to aid him greatly in his contest. 

Abreast with him in the movement was Thomas 
Williams, one of the most brilliant members of the 
Allegheny bar, who had previously served in the 
senate, and who was one of the foremost leaders in the 
Allegheny repudiation movement against the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad; and when Hopkins made his 
motion for the appointment of a committee it was 
promptly seconded by Williams, which assured their 
appointment on the committee, in obedience to par- 
liamentary rules. 

It was well known that Hopkins and Williams were 
strongly prejudiced against the Pennsylvania corpora- 
tion, and the selection of the five other members of 
the committee became a matter of more than usual 
importance. I had very close personal and political 
relations with Speaker Rowe, who was from my own 
county, and he well understood that the earnest 
efforts I had made for the passage of the bill repealing 
the tonnage tax in the previous Legislature made 
me extremely anxious to sustain the measure, and 
prevent its sincere supporters from suffering by an 
investigation that might aim at a desperate political 
play to inflame popular prejudice rather than to meet 
the issue in a spirit of manliness and justice. He 
informed me that he would appoint any five members 
of the house I named to make up the full committee, 
provided, however, that no one suggested for the 
position had supported the measure in the last Legis- 
lature, or was in any degree lacking in ability or 
reputation. What he desired was a thoroughly able 
committee, the names of whose members would 
inspire general confidence in the integrity of the in- 

Of Pennsylvania 507 

Colonel Scott, who was more directly interested 
in the proposed investigation than any other person 
in the State, had given very careful attention to the 
question, and he named a dozen members of the hoiise, 
not one of whom had made a record in support of the 
repeal of the tonnage tax, and all of whom were men 
of unblemished reputation and above the average of 
the intelligence of the house, while most of them were 
lawyers of high legal attainments and standing in their 
profession. Five of the twelve men thus named were 
appointed by the speaker, and it was conceded on all 
sides that no abler or more reputable committee of 
investigation was ever appointed by the Legislature. 

It goes without saying that while Chairman Hop- 
kins and Williams, of Allegheny, were determined to 
make the investigation a battle to the death against 
the Pennsylvania Railroad, the five additional mem- 
bers of the committee not only shared none of the 
prejudices and destructive purposes of Hopkins and 
Williams, but were in hearty and honest sympathy 
with the progressive movement inaugurated by the 
law whose passage was to be inquired into. 

It was not difficult for the committee to prove that 
more than questionable methods had been employed 
in the passage of the bill, simply because the bill could 
be passed in no other way. It was not a battle against 
intelligent conviction that had to be corrupted to 
accomplish legislative results ; it was a battle in which 
intelligent conviction was overwhelmed by a tidal 
wave of popular prejudice cherished in utter ignorance 
of, or indifference to, the highest commercial and 
industrial advancement of the State. A powerful 
lobby was employed, and each member of it in turn 
was called before the committee. Most of them were 
probably severely economical in the measure of truth 
they gave to the committee, but it was impossible 

5o8 Old Time Notes 

for them to do less than to establish the fact that 
disreputable means had to be employed to give success 
to the measure. 

Colonel Scott was then in the employ of the gov- 
ernment as Assistant Secretary of War, and was gen- 
erally on the wing looking after the transportation of 
troops and supplies, and opening or repairing rail- 
way lines. Williams, who was violently aggressive 
in his hostility to the Pennsylvania Railroad, and 
believed that he had reached the point when he could 
practically accomplish its destruction, insisted that 
Colonel Scott should be subpoenaed to testify before 
the committee. It was tmanimously agreed to by 
the committee, and the subpoena was delivered to the 
sergeant-at-arms of the house. He at once pro- 
ceeded to Washington, where he foimd that Colonel 
Scott was absent attending to his official duties in 
some part of the army in Virginia. 

The officer, learning of Scott's location, hastened 
to meet him, and after a very full chat about the con- 
dition of things at Harrisburg, and receiving sug- 
gestions which were to be delivered to some of Scott's 
friends at home, the sergeant-at-arms returned and 
reported that he had made diligent search for the 
person named in the subpoena, but had not been able 
to find him. Ten days or two weeks later the same 
officer was dispatched by the committee to find Col- 
onel Scott and serve the subpoena upon him. The 
officer was a very close friend of Colonel Scott's, and 
his second attempt to obtain service of the process 
of the committee resulted precisely as did the first, 
and a few weeks later a third attempt was made by 
the sergeant-at-arms, tmder orders from the com- 
mittee, to serve the subpoena upon Colonel Scott, 
resulting just as did the previous efforts. 

Williams became suspicious of the fidelity of the 

of Pennsylvania 509 

officer of the house, and decided that he would make 
a bold movement to capture Colonel Scott himself. 
He was well acquainted with Secretary Stanton, who 
had then succeeded Cameron as Secretary of War, as 
they were old acquaintances at the Pittsburg bar 
in their ear her days, and he telegraphed to Secretary 
Stanton inquiring when he could meet Colonel Scott 
personally at the War Office in Washington. This 
dispatch was sent on Thursday, and Stanton promptly 
replied that Williams could meet Colonel Scott at his 
office in the War Department at ten o'clock on the 
following Saturday. 

Williams was wildly enthusiastic in his prosecution 
of the case that amoimted really to a persecution 
of all who were connected with the Pennsylvania 
corporation, and on receipt of Stanton's despatch, he 
annoimced in the house that the committee would no 
longer have to make fruitless search for Colonel Scott, 
as he was to meet him in person at the War Office on 
the following Saturday, and would have the sergeant- 
at-arms with him to serve the process. 

There were very potential reasons why Colonel Scott 
should not appear before that committee, even beyond 
every consideration relating to mere personal interests. 
The battle against the Pennsylvania Railroad and 
against the repeal of the tonnage tax had become the 
chief political stock in trade of the Democracy, and a 
triumph of the Democracy at that time in Pennsylvania 
meant a deliverance from the most important State of 
the Union against the war policy of the Lincoln 
administration. In considering what should be dofie 
in an emergency so grave, I can say with the utt^ost 
frankness that no one was constdted who wgfe in 
personal fear of an honest and thorough investigj^tion, 
but at a conference of a dozen or more men respoinsibly 
charged with the direction of political affairs 'on the 


5IO Old Time Notes 

Republican side, held in the evening after Williams 
had made his announcement in the house, it was 
decided that Scott should not be permitted to be 
brought to the bar of the house as Williams had 
openly threatened. 

Wilmot was then a member of the United States 
Senate, having been chosen to fill the vacancy made 
by Senator Cameron entering the cabinet, and his elec- 
tion to the Senate, after an earnest contest, in which 
State Senator Ketchum was his chief competitor, was 
accomplished by an arrangement with a number of 
Wilmot 's friends in the Legislature, who gave their 
support to the repeal of the tonnage tax in return 
for Scott's successful efforts for Wilmot 's promotion. 
Congress was then in session and Wilmot in Wash- 
ington, and I wrote a confidential letter to him fully 
stating the political necessities which confronted 
us, all of which he would well tmderstand and re- 
quested him on receipt of the letter to go immediately 
to President Lincoln and present the naked truth. 

Williams and the sergeant-at-arms took the noon 
train at Harrisburg for Washington on Friday, and I 
selected a trusted messenger to go on the same train 
with them and deliver my letter to Wilmot, who, in 
obedience to a telegram, would be waiting for him at 
Willard's Hotel on his arrival. The letter was deliv- 
ered to Wilmot, and he immediately proceeded to the 
President, gave him my letter and presented the 
situation with absolute candor. Lincoln at once sent 
for Secretary Stanton, who promptly appeared, and 
the matter was presented to him. 

ffe was one of Stanton's peculiarities that when an 
extreme but somewhat irregular necessity was pre- 
sentecl to him, he would promptly accept the responsi- 
bility *and find his own way of meeting it, but as a rule 
his mei.thods were most effectual. He expressed no 

Of Pennsylvania 511 

opinion as to what he wotdd do in the matter if it 
were an open question for him to decide, but he at 
once answered that a sudden and imexpected order 
he had just issued in the early part of the evening to 
Colonel Scott, then at Fortress Monroe, in itself 
solved the whole problem. He said that the South- 
western army was suffering beyond measure for want 
of a master of transportation, and he found it neces- 
sary, from complaints made to him about the halting 
movements of Halleck's several commands, to order 
Colonel Scott to leave Fortress Monroe at once and 
proceed directly to the Southwest and report to Gen- 
eral Halleck. 

I much doubt whether Secretary Stanton had issued 
the order or thought of issuing the order transferring 
Colonel Scott, until after his conference with Lincoln 
and Wilmot, as no such thing had been spoken of in 
any government circles up to that time, but doubt- 
less a master transportationist was needed in the 
Southwest, and he saw that such an order would not 
only serve the Southwestern army, but would serve 
other important purposes as well, and Scott certainly 
received the order in time to leave Fortress Monroe 
on Friday, passed through Washington Friday night 
without stopping, and, having been advised of his 
movement, I met him at three o'clock on Saturday 
morning in the railroad depot at Harrisburg, and had 
twenty minutes' conference with him while the train 
tarried. He then hurried on to the Southwest and 
remained with Halleck and Pope until some three or 
four months after the adjournment of the Legislature. 

On Saturday morning Williams and the sergeant- 
at-arms leisurely breakfasted together and then pro- 
ceeded to the War Office to meet Colonel Scott just 
about the time that Colonel Scott was breakfasting 
at Altoona. Stanton, of course, received his old 

^ict Old Time Notes 

friend with great cordiality, and after the usual saluta- 
tions Williams inquired how soon he could meet Col- 
onel Scott. Stanton in the blandest way said: "Is 
it personally important to you that you should meet 
Colonel Scott?" To which Williams repUed that it 
was of the utmost importance. 

Stanton expressed profoimd regret that he was 
compelled, after having made the appointment for 
Williams to meet Scott at the War Office, to order Col- 
onel Scott to start immediately for the Southwest, 
where great victories were lost by our army for want 
of adequate transportation facilities. Next to Wil- 
liams' hostility to the Pennsylvania Railroad, his most 
intense resentment was against the South, and, sadly as 
he was disappointed, he could not dispute the imperious 
character of the duty Stanton had performed. 

The investigation committe had gradually become 
greatly conserved in its movements by the influence 
of the five men who were the fellow-members of the 
committee with Hopkins and Williams. Instead of 
continuing as a malignant crusade against the great 
corporation and greater commercial and industrial 
interests of the State, it pursued its inquiry without 
passion, vindicated its appointment by proving the 
employment of corrupt methods to pass the measure, 
and made a dignified and temperate report, summing 
up the testimony and condemning corrupt practices 
in legislation. 

Williams made an effort to have the house permit 
the committee to sit during the recess. That would 
have authorized them to follow Scott anywhere, but 
the house responded by refusing the request, requiring 
the committee to make final report and be discharged 
before the adjournment. Thus ended one of the 
bitterest struggles I have ever witnessed in the Penn- 
sylvania Legislature. 


•• • . • 

• • 
••• • 

• •• 

• • 

» •• • 

y/.A:,..„^.^'/l ^^'il.,../■^' 


Of Pennsylvania 481 

he was considerably short of a majority of members 
in both branches, who were willing to come to the front 
and pass the bill. 

It was the most bitterly contested measure I have 
ever witnessed before the Pennsylvania Legislatiire, 
and only a man of Scott's general acquaintance 
throughout the State, his intimate knowledge of men, 
and his sagacious, tireless and often desperate efforts 
to strengthen his lines, could have effected the passage 
of the bill. But for the fact that the appalling advent 
of civil war became the paramotmt question with the 
people generally throughout the State, and measurably 
diverted attention from the tonnage tax issue, it is 
reasonably certain that Scott would have failed in 
passing a measure that was not only absolutely right 
on any and every basis of sotmd public policy, but a 
measure to the adoption of which the faith of the State 
was solemnly pledged by the bill providing for the 
sale of the public works. 

Nearly a month before the close of the session 
Scott made combinations by which he was enabled to 
pass the bill through the house by a fair majority, but 
he was deadlocked several weeks thereafter in the 
senate, where the senate stood 16 positively for the 
bill, 1 5 as positively against it, and 2 in doubt. They 
were Senators Shindel, of Lehigh, and Blood, of 
Jefferson. Shindel was a Lutheran minister and be- 
lieved that the bill ought to pass, but his constituents 
were overwhelmingly against it, and his doubting 
associate, although representing the then largely 
undeveloped wilderness of his section of the State, 
pleaded the same excuse for his hesitation. After 
halting the measure for several weeks, during which 
time the two tmdecided senators had many conferences 
with Scott, as they had decided to act together either 
for or against the measure, they were finally persuaded 


482 Old Time Notes 

to vote for the bill, which gave the friends of the 
measure 18 votes in the Senate to 15 in opposition. 

As the session was nearing the dose the fnends of 
the bill held a caucus and decided to pass it through 
second reading during one night session. It was 
decided also tiiat debate should not be restrained; 
that the opponents of the measure should be per- 
mitted to speak indefinitely, but that the session would 
not adjotim until a final vote was reached. 

The opposition was very ably led by Senator Penny, 
Republican, of Allegheny, and Senator Clymer, Demo- 
crat, of Berks, and they were both notified of the 
purpose to continue the night session tmtil the second 
reading was completed. They did not complain of 
it, as tiiey had fuU liberty of debate, and the speeches 
in favor of the bill were limited by arrangement. 

It became generally known that the measure was 
to come up, and when the evening session opened 
the hall of the senate was crowded to the uttermost. 
Nearly all the seats belonging to spectators were 
occupied by ladies, and many of them were seated on 
extra chairs on the floor of the senate and around the 
cheerful open fires in the chamber, while a dense 
crowd of standing men filled every vacant space. 

As soon as the senate was called to order the title 
and first section of the bill were read, and Senator 
Penny opened the debate with altogether the ablest 
and most impressive of the many able speeches he 
delivered during his senatorial career. My seat was 
in the front row, and he was immediately behind me, 
and I confess that I felt some alarm at the effect of 
such a speech coming from a man of his high character 
and attainments and ability to mold cherished pre- 
judices into the most plausible arguments. 

When he had spoken about thirty minutes the 
senator from Jefferson, one of the new recrtiits for the 

Of Pennsylvania 483 

bill, crossed over to my side of the chamber, and, while 
apparently stooping in front of Penny, the speaker, 
to prevent interrupting his view of the chair he was 
addressing, he whispered to me that I must answer 
Penny. I told him that I could not, as I was not to 
speak. In the arrangement of time to be occupied 
in debate by the friends of the bill several had pre- 
pared speeches, and felt that they must deliver them 
and have them published to vindicate their vote, 
and I was not of that number, but I was expected to 
be on the skirmish line if occasion called for it. 

The senator passed on to a little side room in the 
old senate hall, where Scott was holding his little 
court and viewing what he regarded as the battle of 
his life. Some ten minutes later **Pap" Shindel, as 
he was affectionately called by his senatorial associ- 
ates, crossed over to my side, stooped down and 
informed me that if I did not answer Penny he would 
not vote for the bill. I told him that it was impos- 
sible; that the best way to answer Penny was to let 
him alone. He passed on to Scott's room, and soon 
thereafter a page brought me a note from Scott saying : 
"It is most important for you to answer Penny." I 
answered in a brief note that I would answer Penny 
whenever it was wise to do so, but I certainly did not 
then expect it would be wise to answer Penny at any 
time during the debate on the tonnage tax bill. 

Penny was one of the most dignified and chival- 
rous of the very able galaxy of senators then in session. 
He delivered his speech because he believed it to be 
his duty to himself and his constituents, but when 
that duty was performed he was not likely to be felt 
again in the conflict unless provoked by an attempt 
to answer him, and if thus aroused he was altogether 
the most dangerous man in the body. The most 
important thing for the friends of the measure to 

484 old Time Notes 


was the diversion of the senate from 
Penny's powerful protest against the measure, and I 
directed my attention very earnestly to that end. 

Fortunately Penny was succeeded by Senator Bound, 
the youngest member of the body, who had studied 
and practised law with Governor Pollock, and he 
started off in a very beautiful rhetorical address that 
had been carefully prepared. It was not difficult 
to puncture the sophomore by calling his attention to 
the official utterances of Governor Pollock on the 
subject and compelling him to quote them. He was 
unprepared for anjrthmg beyond his carefully written 
and committed speech, and when he was once side- 
tracked, I was careful to keep him there, as he had 
little knowledge of the details of the question and 
appeared at terrible disadvantage when called upon to 
answer vital questions of fact. This episode in the 
debate accomplished the most important result the 
friends of the bill needed to obtain, as the senate was 
entirely diverted from the great speech of Senator 
Penny. Several other speeches were made, when 
Senator Clymer arose to deliver the closing address 
against the measure. 

It was Clymer 's first year in the senate, and he had 
not yet learned how important it was in sober debate 
in a senatorial body of unustial ability for a disputant 
to be entirely familiar with the question he asstuned 
to discuss. He was a man of tmusual ability on the 
stump, but a stump speech that glitters the galleries 
into enthusiasm was out of place in a debate with 
trained senators. He had not studied the question 
beyond the superficial utterances of campaign politics, 
and the force of his speech was utterly broken as he 
was corrected from time to time by official records 
which were at hand in readiness. He forced me into 
open debate which I willingly accepted, as I had very 

Of Pennsylvania 485 

carefully and exhaustively studied the whole question 
in all its details, and he was amazed in confusion by 
the plain, unanswerable refutation of his most import- 
ant statements from the oflBcial records of the State. 

The debate thus ended, and the bill passed by a vote 
of 18 to 15. The bill passed finally within ten days 
of the adjournment of the Legislature, which enabled 
the Governor to hold it tmtil a^ter adjournment, which 
he did. It was a week or ten days after the Legis- 
lattu"e adjournment when he gave the measure his 
approval, and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, 
thus placed upon equal footing with its competing 
tnmk lines, has been enabled to create the greatest 
railway system of the world. 

I cannot now recall any important measure before 
the Peimsylvania Legislature that aroused such gen- 
eral and vindictive opposition as did the passage of 
the bill releasing the Peimsylvania Railroad from 
tonnage duty. The bill made no release of money 
to the railroad, as the corporation was required by the 
law to reduce the freights in every instance to the full 
amoimt of the tonnage tax, but the great mass of the 
people simply saw in the tonnage tax a revenue of 
from three to four hundred thousand dollars a year 
that was likely to increase to half a million or more, 
and as the farmers were then directly taxed to support 
the State, every question that lessened the revenues 
of the Commonwealth met with sturdiest opposition 
from the agricultural and industrial classes. 

The Democrats made most of the passage of the 
bill because it had been passed by a Republican house 
and senate and approved by a Republican Governor, 
although prominent Democrats in both branches had 
supported it, and the Democratic leaders readily 
adopted the war cry of the repeal of the bill releasing 
the tonnage tax as the slogan of the party to reggv^r 

486 Old Time Notes 

political power in the State. But for the war, with 
the intense interest it excited throughout the people, 
there would have been but one question before the 
people of Pennsylvania, and that the issue of main- 
taining or repealing the bill taxing tonnage. 

The Democratic leaders, with occasional Republi- 
can aids, denotmced the measure as the spawn of cor- 
ruption. "Pap" Shindel was repudiated alike by his 
Democratic constituents of Lehigh and by his church 
people, but the war furnished hun a place of rescue, 
and he became chaplain in the army. 

The intense and imiversal hostility to the measure 
can be best understood when I state that of the mem- 
bers of the house who supported the bill, but one out- 
side of Philadelphia was re-elected in the entire State, 
and that was Mr. Cowan, of Warren, who was sustained 
in supporting the measure because it was regarded 
as aiding the completion of the Philadelphia & Erie 
Road. With that single exception, not one of the 
members of the body outside of Philadelphia who 
voted for the repeal of the tonnage tax obtained a 

Philadelphia, with her vast interests in the railroad 
and in the commerce expected to be gained by the 
repeal of the tax, heartily supported all the men who 
favored the bill, but with all the power Philadelphia 
could exert, the new Legislature elected in the fall 
of 1 86 1 had but nineteen members out of the himdred 
who were opposed to the repeal of the bill, and on that 
question the senate stood 2 2 in favor of rei)eal to 1 1 
against it. Fortimately the bill had been carefully 
framed to make it an irrepealable statute. The act 
repealing the tonnage tax proposed a very carefully 
prepared contract with the State, by which, in con- 
sideration of the release of the tax, the company 
obligated itself to make different and increased pay- 

Of Pennsylvania 487 

ments to the State on accoimt of the sale of the Main 
Line, and the title of the bill was "An Act relating 
to the commutation of tonnage taxes," etc. When 
the bill was approved by the Governor it became much 
more than a mere law. When it was formally accepted 
by the Pennsylvania corporation it became a solemn 
contract completed with all the solemnity of law. 
It was thus beyond the power of the Legislature to 
revoke the contract without the consent of the rail- 
road corporation, but the Legislature was wildly bent 
on the repeal; passed it through the house almost 
with a yell, but it was fortimately halted in the senate 
by conditions and actions which have been explained 
in a previous chapter. 

The popular prejudice against corporations pre- 
vailing in Pennsylvania at that time was the greatest 
obstacle to the achievement of what the opponents of 
corporations desired to attain. They had suffered 
from the failure of irresponsible banks. Beyond 
banks there were few corporations in the State, and 
only a very small proportion of them commanded 
public confidence. They little dreamed when they 
opposed the repeal of the tax upon tonnage because 
it would require that amount of taxes to be imposed 
upon the industrial interests of the State, as they 
believed, that the impetus given to corporations by 
the rapid strides made by the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company extending its tributary lines wherever there 
was wealth to develop in the State, would so speedily 
open up the boundless wealth of Pennsylvania by 
corporate capital as to enable the Legislature to relieve 
real estate entirely of taxation for State purposes. 
They battled against corporations because few of the 
mostly feeble organizations of the kind in the State 
contributed materially to the revenues, and yet in 
defiance of their opposition to corporations to lessen 

488 Old Time Notes 

taxation ttpon themselves, as they regarded it, they 
were defeated in their ideas, and their defeat brought 
them the richest blessings for which they had long 
been struggling. 

The growth of our great railroad sjrstem, and the 
rapid development in all industrial channels caused by 
the Civil War, led to the multiplication of corpora- 
tions in Pennsylvania, until to-day they practically 
pay the expenses of the State govenmient. It is not 
surprising, considering the many losses sustained by 
the people by the early corporations, that they re- 
garded them as objectionable and as granting special 
privileges to favorite individuals, but that prejudice 
has long since perished, and the date of the advance- 
ment of our great Commonwealth in the development 
of her boundless wealth and in relieving industrial 
interests from taxation, was the date of the passage 
of the act relieving the Pennsylvania Railroad Com- 
pany from what were always restrictive and at times 
prohibitive taxes on its traffic. From that time 
Philadelphia could command a fair share of commerce 
from the growing wealth of the West, new markets 
were opened for otu* great industrial products of Penn- 
sylvania, and the most substantial basis of prosperity 
ever attained in our history was then irrevocably 

of Pennsylvania 489 



The North Practically United by the Bombardment of the Starving Gar- 
rison at Sumter — Jefferson Davis' Views on the Subject — Seces- 
sion of Virginia and North Carolina Forced by the Attack on 
Sumter — Both Sides Expected a Short War — General Patterson 
with a Number of His Officers Dines with the Author at Chambers- 
burg — Their Views about the War — Only One Declared that if a 
Single Battle was Fought it Would be the Bloodiest War of Modem 
History — General Thomas Silent — Shock to the Loyal Sentiment 
by the Defeat at Bull Run — McClellan Called to Command — Dis- 
content from Inaction of the Army in the Late Fall of 1861 — 
Curtin's Care of the Soldiers — Presentation of Flags to the Penn- 
sylvania Reserves. 

THE bombardment of Stimter accomplished the 
enforced secession of Virginia and North Caro- 
lina. The conventions of both of these States 
had previously refused to join in the secession move- 

Looking merely on the siuf ace of the history of 
those times, the firing on Stimter appears as an act of 
midsiraimer madness, when General Beauregard, the 
Confederate commander, had the assurance of Major 
Anderson, commanding the little handful of the Union 
force in Simiter, that he would surrender the fort at 
noon two days thereafter if not supplied with pro- 
visions. It was this firing upon a starving garrison 
by order of the Confederate government that inflamed 
the North and gave it substantial unanimity in sup- 
port of the war, and it was, as I have on several occa- 
sions stated, the death knell of the Confederacy. 

In a conversation with Jefferson Davis, who was then 
President of the Confederacy, when I visited his hom^ 

490 Old Time Notes 

some ten years after the "war, I asked him ndiether 
political conditions had not controlled his dedaon to 
order the firing upon Sinnter when its surrender was 
asstired at a given hour. He declared very positively, 
however, that the order to fire upon Sumter had been 
issued solely because the Federal government had, as 
he believed, been guilty of a breach of ^th by starting 
an expedition by sea to provision and reinforce Sumter. 
I reminded him that there was no intention on the part 
of President Lincoln to violate the faith of the govern- 
ment, as was evidenced by his notification to Gover- 
nor Pickens that an expedition had been started to 
provision the garrison at Stmiter, and with the notice 
the assurance was given that if provisions were allowed 
to be supplied to the fort, no attempt would be made 
to reinforce the garrison or supply mimitions of war. 

However, Mr. Davis may have been influenced by 
his belief that a breach of faith had been committed by 
Lincoln. I cannot doubt that Stunter would not have 
been fired upon but for the fact that Virginia and North 
Carolina could not be brought into the Confederacy 
without first precipitating civil war. Immediately 
after the surrender of Sumter and the call of the govern- 
ment for 75,000 troops to maintain the Union, the 
reconvened convention of Virginia, in secret session, 
adopted the ordinance of secession, and North Carolina 
followed. The Confederate government at once trans- 
ferred its Capital to Richmond, and all that Virginia 
gained by reversing her verdict against secession, and 
making common cause with the Confederacy, was to 
make her soil the chief theater of civil war, with almost 
universal desolation within her borders. 

Both sections immediately organized large armies. 
General Beauregard, who had commanded the bom- 
bardment at Charleston, was placed at the head of one 
army, and advanced to Manassas, a good strategic 

Of Pennsylvania 491 

point because of its railroad facilities, and General 
Joseph E. Johnson with another army took possession 
of the Shenandoah Valley. An army of some 25,000 
men was organized at Washington to make the advance 
upon Manassas and Richmond, commanded by General 
McDowell, and General Patterson, who was in com- 
mand of the Department of Pennsylvania, marched 
with an army of nearly equal ntmibers through the 
Ctmiberland Valley to meet Johnson somewhere on 
the other side of the Potomac. 

General Scott continued as commander-in-chief and 
personally directed the movements of all the various 
military forces in the field, but he had outlived his 
ability to exhibit the great military genius which made 
his march from Vera Cruz to Mexico so lustrous in 
achievements, and his utter incapacity for his high 
command was clearly illustrated when McDowell and 
Patterson, both moving under his immediate orders, 
were kept far apart at the battle of Bull Rim, while 
Johnson escaped from Patterson, joined Beauregard, 
and changed a Union victory into a most disastrous 
Union defeat. 

The people of the North had become somewhat 
accustomed to the idea of civil war, as immense prepa- 
rations for it had been going on for nearly three months, 
but nearly all cherished the hope that in some way, 
without knowing or pretending to know how it might 
be accomplished, war would be averted, or at least 
that a single battle would surely end the conflict and 
bring about the restoration of the Union on some 
basis of compromise. 

When General Patterson with his army was marching 
through the Ciunberland Valley to the Potomac, he 
encamped for several days on my farm on the outskirts 
of Chambersburg, and I had the principal officers to 
dine with me during their stay. Along with General 

494 Old Time Notes 

who was severely censured at the time ft>r pamitting 
Johnson to escape from the valley and jom Beatxregard 
at Bull Run, promptly demanded a court of inquiry at 
which he proposed to prove beyond dispute that he 
had literally and faithfully obeyed the orders of General 
Scott, and in that he was tmdoubtedly r^ht. The 
court of inquiry was refused to him becatsse^ as the 
Department declared, it was not necessary for his 

When McDowell's army was defeated and finally 
driven in utter confusion back into the defenses of 
Washington, the people of the North, and especially of 
Pennsylvania, for the first time began to understand 
the magnitude of undertaking to lock horns with the 
South to conquer its people into submission to the 

At first a tidal wave of despair swept over the North, 
but it was speedily dispelled as the people began to 
understand the duties and sacrifices they must accept. 
I then represented the Gettysburg district in the State 
senate, and was engaged nearly aU the time with Gover- 
nor Curtin at Harrisburg. He stood out before the 
State and the country as grandly vindicated by organ- 
izing the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps in the face of the 
protest of the National government, as it was that 
corps, enlisted for three years* service or during the 
war, that was the nucleus of the Grand Army of the 
Potomac that McClellan so completely organized after 
he was called into command. 

The Governor gave prompt utterance to his patri- 
otic convictions and purposes and inspired the loyal 
sentiment of the State to aggressive action. It was 
then known that we were face to face with acttial 
sanguinary war between brethren of opposing sections, 
and all understood that such a war must be even more 
desperate than a war between opposing nationalities. 

Of Pennsylvania 495 

McClellan was called to the command of the Army of 
the Potomac, as he then stood alone with a record of 
victories in West Virginia, which a few years later 
would hardly have been regarded as skirmishes, but he 
had defeated or captured several regimental commands 
at different points, and as he was known to be one of 
the most accomplished officers in the amiy, it was 
natural, with his prestige of victories in West Virginia, 
that he should be called to the command of the Army 
of the Potomac with the very cordial approval of the 

One of the amusing features of the early part of the 
war was the hesitation of the government to recognize 
a condition of war in the South and treat the Confed- 
eracy as a belligerent power. When General McClellan 
demanded the surrender of Colonel Pegram's regiment 
in West Virginia, he addressed Pegram as if writing a 
business note, entirely omitting Pegram 's title, and 
General Andrew Porter, a gallant Pennsylvania soldier, 
and cousin of Horace Porter, who was on Grant's staff 
and is now Minister to France, informed me of the 
ludicrous scene when the first flag of truce apjx^ared 
between the two armies. General Porter was provost 
marshal of the army, and when information came from 
the pickets that a Southern command had appeared 
with a flag of truce, it was brought to him, and the 
grave question of acknowledging the Confederacy as a 
belligerent power had to be decided at once. There 
was great hesitation about the attitude to Ixj assumed, 
but it was finally decided that any communication from 
the Southern army should be received without any 
official recognition of her belligerent rights. The 
commimication related simply to the exchange of 
some prisoners, and arrangements were made to carry 
into effect the request that was made, but with scrupu- 
lous care to avoid any official recognition as belligerents. 

4^ Old Time 

Pmoe 3gxkd Eoc^aad had alrea^ 
ngfaf of the Coo£edieraqr as a bd lig er ent , azuiwe 
do nothing leas witfaocxt dpruUng that there 
be neither caf^Cttre nor ezchacge of pris o nas ^ leovxcg 
the war to be coadacxed tmder the old-tisie laws of 
barfxtfisnL The prota:tioci of the Uniori prisoaers in 
the hands of the enemy compiled the government 
to treat with the Confederacy as pcGsessmg all the 
r^^tts of a h^Digerent power, whfle we were very 
caref td to avoid any form of distinct recognition. 
A r^ular cartel for the exchange of prisoners was 
agreed upon, and every bdligerent r^ht practkally 
accorded to the South simply because it was an im- 
perious necessity. 

It was confidently expected that General McCldlan, 
with the new Army of the Potomac, that very largely 
outnumbered the Confederate force between Wastmig- 
ton and Richmond, would march upon Manassas in the 
early fall, and the belief was generally shared in the 
North that he would be in Richmond by the ist of 
October. But McClellan was, first of all, a thorough 
disciplinarian, and he was tmwilling to advance upon 
the enemy until he had his army thoroughly disciplined, 
and September passed and finally Ocober passed with 
the Army of the Potomac remaining at Washington, 
and there was profotmd disappointment throughout the 
entire North. 

The fall elections, the most important of which were 
held in Octot)er, were seriously affected by the inaction 
of the Union army, and political interests as well as 
patriotic impulses demanded the advance of the Army 
r)f the Potomac. Fortunately, there were no State 
ofTicers to be elected in Pennsylvania, but the Repub- 
li(\'ins wouUl have lost the control of the popular 
branch of the Legislature had it not been for a com- 
bination made by which a number of War Demo- 

Of Pennsylvania 513 




Attorney-General Ptinriance Refused to Resign at the End of the Year- 
Coffee's Visit to Urge a Continuation of Purviance — Curtin's 
Prompt Notice that the Resignation must be Given, as Senator 
Finney was to Take the Place — Pvirviance's Sudden and Offensive 
Resignation — Finney Insisted that Curtin, Instead of Appointing 
Finney, Should Appoint the Most Eminent Lawyer of the State — 
He Named Meredith, and All at Once Approved — Meredith Twice 
Declined, but Finally when Curtin Met Him He Reluctantly Assented 
— How Meredith Met Great Emergencies — He Hears the Case of a 
Soldier Convicted of Murder — Bribery Charges in the Senatorial 
Election of 1863 — The House Adopted Resolution Instructing 
Attorney General to Prosecute Cameron and Others — Cameron 
Calls upon the Author, Who Visited Meredith to Discuss the Prose- 
cution of the Cases — Meredith's Tactful Reply. 

IN a previous chapter I stated that Ctirtin, when 
inaugurated as Governor, had appointed a com- 
promise cabinet, including ex-Congressman Purvi- 
ance, of Butler, as attorney general, who was pressed 
for the position by the friends of Cameron. I also 
explained that the real reason for the appointment 
of Purviance was to carry out a plan conceived by 
ex-Senator Titian J. Coffee. Coffee, who had rep- 
resented the Indiana district in the senate, but whose 
eminent ability as a lawyer justified him in locating 
in Pittsburg to practise his profession, and Purviance, 
who had just retired fom Congress, had formed a 
partnership with Coffee to locate in Pittsburg. As 
both were able lawyers and quite prominent in the 
politics of the State, such a law firm would have at 
once commanded a very large clientage. Senator Finney, 


514 Old Time Notes 

of Crawford, the ablest of all the Republican senators, 
was very earnestly wanted by Ctirtin as attorney 
general, but he had a year to serve in the senate, and 
was not eligible until his senatorial term expired. 
Coffee plausibly proposed to solve the cabinet problem 
by appointing Purviance attorney general for one 
year, which would give the new law firm of Pittsburg 
great prestige, and at the end of the year, when Finney 
would become eligible, Purviance would resign and 
Finney take his place. This programme was cordially 
assented to by Purviance himself, and he entered the 
cabinet with the full tmderstanding on every side that 
at the end of one year his resignation would be tendered 
and accepted. 

It happened that Senator Coffee, who had studied 
law with Edward Bates, of Missouri, was invited by 
Bates, when he entered the cabinet of Lincoln as At- 
torney General, to take the position of assistant, and 
Coffee committed the error of accepting. Had he 
remained in Pittsburg he would have been not only in 
the forefront of the eminent men in the legal profession, 
but would also have been a most potential political 
factor; while in Washington he drifted away from his 
Pennsylvania associations and attained no distinction 
worthy of his great ability. The result was that the 
law firm of Coffee & Piu^iance never got fairly imder 
way in Pittsburg. 

Purviance was a quiet man, well versed in the law, 
but not keen in perception or forceful in coimsel. In 
the many cotmcUs held in the early part of the war, 
when questions of appalling moment were to be decided, 
he was always hesitating in his judgment, and was glad 
to have others lead for him to follow. 

About the close of the year, when Purviance 's resig- 
nation was expected, and Finney was ready to come 
at once to assimie the duties of the attorney general- 

Of Pennsylvania 515 

ship, Coffee telegraphed me to meet him at Harris- 
burg. He called to see me at the hotel before proceed- 
ing to confer with the Governor, and explained to me 
his mission. He said that the law partnership of 
Coffee & Pttrviance, that promised so much to them a 
year before, had entirely fallen out; that Purviance 
would have to begin a new struggle to gain a profitable 
practice, and that he had come in obedience to the 
earnest appeal of Purviance to ascertain whether he 
could not be continued as attorney general. 

Under all ordinary circvimstances Coffee would have 
preferred Finney, as they were very close friends in 
the senate, but he felt under some obligations to his 
disappointed law partner, and frankly stated that he 
had come on rather to see whether a continuance of 
Purviance in the cabinet could not be amicably 
arranged, rather than to press it against the wishes of 
the Governor. 

I told him that Purviance was not an important aid 
to the Governor; that the Governor greatly needed a 
strong, aggressive man in that position, and that it 
would be an act of unpardonable bad faith to Finney, 
who was eminently qualified for the position and in 
close sympathy with the Governor, to deny him the 
place that had been volxmtarily promised him. 

We proceeded to the Executive chamber, where 
Coffee presented the matter to the Governor as he had 
presented it to me, and I awaited the expression of the 
Governor without saying anything. As soon as Coffee 
had made the statement, Curtin promptly replied that 
Attorney Purviance was expected to tender his resig- 
nation at the close of the year, in accordance with the 
expressed promise given as a condition of his appoint- 
ment. No further conference on the subject was 
necessary, and it was dismissed. 

The meeting in the Executive chamber occurred in 

5i6 Old Time Notes 

the afternoon of the day, and Coflfee at once notified 
Purviance that his resignation must be given in accord- 
ance with the agreement. 

To the utter surprise of the Governor and the pubKc 
generally, the Harrisburg "Evening Telegraph" pub- 
lished Attorney General Purviance 's letter of resig- 
nation addressed to the Governor, before it had been 
received at the Executive department. It was a 
brief, curt letter not exceeding half a dozen lines, 
in which he stated that he tendered his resignation 
because his self-respect would not permit him to 
continue longer in official relations with the adminis- 

Such a letter going to the public without explanation 
suddenly convulsed the party throughout the entire 
State, and it came at a time when the factional opposi- 
tion to Curtin, tmder the aggressive leadership of 
Cameron, was assailing him with tmmeasured violence. 
He was charged with complicity in furnishing rotten 
blankets and shoddy clothing to our soldiers, with 
which he had no more to do than the man in the moon, 
but his assailants were tireless and tmscrupulous, and 
the resignation of his attorney general, ostensibly on 
the ground that self-respect compelled him to sever 
his relations with the administration, was certain to 
add fuel to the inflamed factional sentiment that was 
assailing the Executive. A loan of $3,000,000 had 
just been advertised, the credit of the State was trem- 
bling in the balance, and the unfavorable political 
conditions which then confronted the Governor were 
the most perilous he was ever called upon to meet. 

Senator Finney was in the city on his way to Phila- 
delphia, where he expected to spend a few days before 
entering upon the office of attorney general. He did 
not know of the conference at the Executive office in 
the early part of the day, but immediately after seeing 

Of Pennsylvania 517 

the offensive letter of resignation in the evening paper, 
he hastened to the Governor's office, where he met 
Coffee, Secretary Slifer, Adjutant General Russell and 

Finney was a man of heroic mold, and he opened the 
conference by the positive declaration that under the 
circtmistances he was not the man to be placed in the 
office of attorney general ; that the only way in which 
the administration could meet so grave an emergency 
was to call the ablest and most respected representative 
of the legal profession to that position, and thus at 
once make Purviance's insulting retirement not only 
impotent but disgraceful to himself. He concluded 
by saying that the man for attorney general was 
William M. Meredith. 

Curtin had great affection for Finney and was very 
reluctant to part from him as a cabinet officer, but 
Finney declared with emphasis that it was no time for 
sentiment; that the safety of the administration in 
Pennsylvania involved, to some extent at least, the 
safety of the National government and the credit of 
the State, and all accepted his suggestion that Mr. 
Meredith should be called to the cabinet if he could be 
induced to accept it. It was known that he was in 
delicate health, and that he would naturally be averse 
to entering the cabinet under the embarrassing cir- 
cumstances which were presented. 

I was charged with the duty of going to Philadelphia 
that night to present the matter to Meredith, with 
whom I was well acquainted. The mission was a most 
important one, and I had little rest after reaching 
the city at midnight, because of my anxiety as to the 
issue of my effort with Meredith. I called upon him 
early in the morning, presented the matter to him with 
all the earnestness I could command, and he heard me 
so patiently that I was hopefi;il of his acceptance, but 

5i8 Old Time Notes 

he answered that it was an utter impossibiUty for him 
to accept the duties of the office. I told him that he 
had an assistant, and would have additional assistants 
if necessary, to which he answered, with quiet emphasis, 
that he could accept no official trust whose duties he 
could not personally discharge. I appealed to him on 
the ground that his acceptance of a cabinet position 
would assure the acceptance of the loan then adver- 
tised, and I had the authority of the Governor to state 
to him that if he accepted, it was the Governor's desire 
that Meredith himself should name three men to make 
a thorough investigation of the charges made against 
the Governor in relation to clothing contracts, and, if 
such committee did not fully exonerate the Governor, 
it would be the right, as it would be the duty, of the 
new attorney general to resign his position because 
the administration was not worthy of his respect and 

To all appeals Meredith was immovable. He said 
very frankly that he would gladly accept the position 
if he felt that he could do it in justice to himself and to 
the State, but that his feeble condition of health 
absolutely forbade it. 

I said to him that I would not accept his decision as 
final, but would call again at three o'clock in the after- 
noon, and begged of him to give the subject serious con- 
sideration. In the meantime I had called upon Morton 
McMichael, Mayor Gilpin, J. Edgar Thomson, Edward 
Gratz and several other close friends of Mr. Meredith, 
explained the situation to them, and each one called 
upon Meredith and urged his acceptance. At three 
o'clock, when I returned, he received me most kindly, 
and said that he had very pleasant intercourse with a 
number of my friends during the day on the subject of 
the appointment, but he profoimdly regretted that his ill 
health, that he did not hope to have permanently 

Of Pennsylvania 519 

improved, even with the utmost care, made it impos- 
sible for him to accept such a responsible trust. 

I closed the interview by saying that I would not 
return his answer to the Governor as final, but would 
ask him to meet the Governor himself, and that I 
would have Curtin at Meredith's house at nine o'clock 
that night. Meredith in a very quiet way answered: 
** It wiU give me much pleasure to meet Governor 
Curtin at any time, but I want to say to you that it is 
not possible for me in my present condition of health 
to accept any official duties." 

I telegraphed Curtin to come at once to the city, and 
at nine o'clock I accompanied him to Meredith's door, 
where I left him to confer with Meredith alone, and in 
less than an hour thereafter he rejoined me at the 
hotel and informed me that he had received Meredith's 
acceptance to entering the cabinet. 

The appointment and acceptance of Meredith were 
announced in all the papers throughout the State and 
country the following morning, and the retirement of 
Purviance was speedily forgotten. 

Meredith at once named three men of the highest 
character and business ability in the State to investi- 
gate the charges made against the integrity of Curtin 's 
administration in dealing with the soldiers, and the 
most careful and exhaustive inquiry was made by the 
committee thus appointed, resulting not only in the 
imanimous acquittal of Curtin, but in the highest com- 
mendation of all his official actions relating to the 
organization and comfort of the Pennsylvania soldiers. 

The reaction was almost instantaneous throughout 
the entire State, and the climax came a few weeks 
thereafter when the Governor announced that the 
three million loan had been entirely taken. In point 
of fact, the loan had not been fully subscribed, but it 
had been so nearly accomplished, and the conditions 

520 Old Time Notes 

in the State had become so much more favorable in a 
very brief time, that the banking houses of Drexel, 
Cook, Clarke, and others, authorized the Gk)vemor to 
annotmce the entire success of the loan, and they 
became responsible for it. But for Meredith's accept- 
ance of the position in the cabinet, whereby all the 
scandals of faction which had been hurled against 
Curtin were stmimarily crushed, the loan would not 
have been taken, and the credit of the State would 
have been seriously impaired for the time. 

It was not expected by Meredith that he would, or 
could, devote lumself to the duties of the attorney 
general's office, but he soon became wonderfully 
fascinated with the work, and to his surprise he rapidly 
improved in health and held the position during the 
remaining five years of Curtin 's service as chief magis- 
trate. He found that what he thought would be most 
perilous to his health was really an important aid to 
his improved physical condition. Legal labors, outside 
of mere routine duties which could be performed by 
assistants, were mere recreation rather than exhaus- 
tive labor to a man of Meredith's wonderful mastery 
of the law, and he enjoyed the office to such an extent 
that it was difficult at any time to induce him to take 
a vacation. 

Meredith had but little practical political experience . 
He had been in the Legislature in his early days, had 
served in the city cotmcils, was a member of the con- 
stitutional convention of 1838, where he was the only 
man who ever imhorsed Thaddeus Stevens in debate, 
and he had been Secretary of the Treasury tmder 
President Taylor from the time of Taylor's inaugura- 
tion tmtil his death, nearly a year and a half later. 
He had never taken part in political leadership, and 
was an entire stranger to prevalent political methods. 
While his acceptance of the position of attorney general 

Of Pennsylvania 521 

was most heartily welcomed by the Governor and his 
friends, grave apprehensions were felt that he would 
be likely to embarrass the administration in some of 
the sudden political evolutions which became enforced 
necessities by the advent of the Civil War and the 
general overthrow of ordinary regulations. Political 
as well as military movements had to be made in those 
terrible days as sudden emergencies dictated, and it 
was generally accepted that they would be likely to 
startle a man of Meredith's fixed plans and purposes of 
life. Strange as it may seem to many, when an 
emergency arose requiring irregular methods to reach 
indispensable results, it was only necessary to have 
the facts frankly presented to him, and if his depart- 
ment had any relation to the matter he could be confi- 
dently trusted to find the best way of attaining the 
needed result. 

A pointed illustration of his methods of administer- 
ing the duties of his office in harmony with political 
necessities, was given in the case of a yoimg soldier of 
Johnstown, who had voltmteered in the army, leaving 
an attractive yoimg wife behind him. A man who 
dishonored the ministerial cloth became fascinated 
with the soldier's wife, and soon created a public and 
grievous scandal in the commtmity, as both the infatu- 
ated lover and the wife seemed to have lost all appre- 
ciation of the offensive notoriety they had attained. 
The soldier was advised of the scandal, obtained leave 
of absence, returned home inflamed to fury, and pub- 
licly declared his purpose to kill the man who had 
brought dishonor upon his home. The declaration 
to kill the minister was made openly and repeatedly. 
In a short time he met the minister on the street and 
shot him dead on the spot. He was tried for murder 
before Judge Taylor and convicted of nuvder iji the 
first degree, 

522 Old Time Notes 

John Scott, of Htmtingdon, afterward United States 
Senator, was coxinsel for the prisoner, and he at once 
made application to Gk)vemor Cttrtin for a pardon, 
and Cttrtin fixed a day for the hearibig. On the day 
before the hearing was to be had an affair of outposts 
in the Army of the Potomac, in which some Pennsyl- 
vania soldiers were engaged, called Ctirtin at once to 
the field, as he always subordinated every official duty 
to the care of the Peimsylvania soldiers. He gave 
hasty directions about things to be done in the office 
during his absence, and was starting in a hurried way 
to make the first train to Washington when it occurred 
to him, just when he had reached the door, that the 
next day had been fixed for the hearing of the pardon 
case of the convicted soldier, and he turned to Mere- 
dith and asked him whether he would not hear the 
case. Meredith promptly replied that he would if the 
Gk)vemor desired it. The Governor was about to rush 
out of the door when Meredith called him back and said : 
" Governor, if I am to hear the pardon case, it might 
be well to know how you think it should be decided.'* 
Curtin, in his impulsive way, said : " Damned if I '11 hang 
the soldier." Meredith bowed and Curtin departed. 

On the following day, when Scott foimd that Mere- 
dith was to hear the case, all his hopes of success per- 
ished and he appeared before Meredith (who sat with 
the dignity of a Lord Chief Justice of England), pro- 
foimdly apprehensive that his case was lost. Scott 
opened the case for his client and was followed by the 
district attorney, who declared that there could not 
be a case of more deliberately premeditated murder, 
and sustained his position by quoting many declara- 
tions made by the prisoner of his purpose to kill the 
minister. When Scott rose to conclude the argument 
for the pardon Meredith appalled him by asking in the 
most sober and judicial manner whether it was imdis- 

Of Pennsylvania 523 

puted that the prisoner had made repeated declarations 
of his purpose to kill the man. Scott naturally assumed 
that Meredith had gone to the very marrow of the case 
and he had to admit that this man, broken-hearted 
over the shame brought upon his home, and inflamed 
beyond the measure of responsibility by drink, had 
declared and repeatedly declared his purpose to take 
the life of the man who had wrecked his family altar, 
to which Meredith replied, ** Well, I think the preacher 
should have left town." 

Scott was at once relieved of the terrible apprehen- 
sions which had oppressed him, as he saw that the severe 
judicial line that he supposed he was up against did 
not mean the death of his client. After some delay, of 
course, the soldier was pardoned. 

Another important occasion I recall when Meredith 
exhibited not only his willingness to acknowledge the 
mastery of political necessity, but his skill in meeting 
an emergency. It occurred in 1863 after Mr. Bucka- 
lew was elected to the Senate by one majority. Cam- 
eron claimed that he could command a Democratic 
vote and thus secure his election if supported by the 
Republicans, and Wilmot, whose term had expired, 
confessed that he could not command any Democratic 
votes and doubted whether Cameron could, but was 
unwilling to stand in the way of Cameron and gave 
him the field. A political scandal resulted, involving 
Representative Boyer, Democrat, of Clearfield, who 
was expected to vote for Cameron, but who finally 
declared that he had been approached on the subject 
but had rejected the proffered bribe. The feeling was 
intense among the Democrats and it was openly pro- 
claimed that no apostate could leave the hall alive. 

A committee of investigation appointed by the 
House reported a resolution that was adopted, direct- 
ing the attorney general to prosecute Cameron, 

524 Old Time Notes 

Boyer and others for bribery. Cameron was naturally 
much alarmed at the prospect of Attorney General 
Meredith appearing in court and prosecuting the case. 
He called at the room at midnight of the day the 
resolution was adopted and stated that he had come 
to consult about the proposed prosecution. Although 
continuously in political hostility, our personal rela- 
tions were never interrupted, and we many times con- 
ferred on political questions in which we both were 
interested. He asked me to see Meredith and explain 
what such a prosecution involved: that it meant the 
personal destruction of Cameron; that if successful 
it meant the destruction or peril of the Republican 
power in the State, and as neither faction was entirely 
clear of political offenses such a prosecution would lead 
to retributive prosecutions and overwhelm the party. 

I did not approve of the house resolution, as it was 
purely a partisan measure to force the two factions of 
the Republican party into a desperate battle with each 
other. I called upon the attorney general early the 
next day, and told him in the frankest manner what had 
occurred between Cameron and myself, what both of 
us had said, and that I had agreed to urge him, if he 
could do so consistently, not to proceed with the 

Meredith heard the statement very patiently with- 
out exhibiting the remotest sign of approval or dis- 
approval, and instead of answering that he would or 
would not prosecute, he remarked in his quiet way: 
"I wonder that it did not occur to you to say to 
General Cameron that the attorney general of the 
State had vastly more important duties to perform 
than to prosecute cases in the quarter sessions." The 
answer was just as distinct in meaning as if he had 
given a positive statement, and Cameron was informed 
pf Meredith's attitude, 

Of Pennsylvania 


The resolution directing those prosecutions to be 
made yet remains on the Journal of the House, but no 
one ever called the attention of the grand jury or the 
court to the mandate of the popular branch of the 
Legislature, and there are few living to-day who will 
remember that any such prosecutions were contem- 

Meredith retired from the attorney generalship in 
much better health than he enjoyed when he entered 
the office, and lived to represent Philadelphia in the 
constitutional convention of 1873-4. He presided 
over the body with the great ability and dignity which 
always characterized him in every position, and fell 
in the harness long before its deliberations were fin- 
ished, and died as widely beloved as he was known. 

526 Old Time Notes 


How it was Conserved by Adding Five Able and Dispassionate Men to 
Hopkins and Williams — ^John Cessna an Important Factor in Shap- 
ing the Results — His Unique Contest for a Seat in the House — 
How He was Able to Obtain It — He was an Aggressive Candidate 
for the Democratic Nomination for Governor — Re-Elected and 
Made Democratic Speaker — Communication Between Hopkins and 
the Author — The Political Feature of the Investigation Eliminated 
— Hopkins and the Author Met Frequently, and Ten Years Later 
Served Together in the Senate, but the Investigation Never was 
Alluded To— Popular Prejudice Mastered by the Severe Strain of 
War and the Wonderful Development of Our Industries. 

THE Democrats of the Legislatiire of 1862 were 
guided in their political movements solely with 
the view of regaining power in the State and 
choosing a Democratic Governor to succeed Curtin. 
John Cessna, of Bedford, was a very much more 
important factor in controlling some of the most vital 
political movements of the Legislature than was ever 
known to the public. He was a man of much more 
than usual ability, and tireless in prosecuting all his 
undertakings. He was one of the best trial lawyers 
in southern Pennsylvania, and practised in most of the 
counties in that section of the State. 

He was an aggressive Democrat before the war, 
and aggressive in all his political movements. He 
had won his way into the Legislature a dozen years 
before, and was speaker of the house in 1851, with 
the honor of being the youngest presiding officer who 
had ever been chosen for the body. He was an 
aggressive candidate for the Democratic nomination 
for Governor, as was Hopkins, of Washington, who 

Of Pennsylvania 527 

led in the investigation of the passage of the tonnage 
tax, and he was not wiUing that Hopkins should get 
up an investigation tidal wave that would land him 
in the gubernatorial office. 

When civil war came Cessna was positive in his 
declaration in favor of prosecuting the war. His 
coimty of Bedford was associated with Somerset by 
the Legislative apportionment, and elected two mem- 
bers of the house. Cessna was nominated by the 
Democrats of Bedford with a Democratic colleague 
on the ticket in Somerset, and he made a most exhaus- 
tive battle, especially in his own coimty, speaking 
in almost every school house and at many a cross-roads, 
and in all of his speeches he not only declared himself 
in favor of prosecuting the war, but he made no 
criticism upon the war policy of the National gov- 
ernment. He insisted that the Democrats were loyal, 
and that when the military power of the Confederacy 
was broken the Union would be restored on a con- 
servative basis. His courage in supporting the war 
brought to his aid a very large proportion of the 
Republicans of Bedford Coimty, and he received some 
1,200 majority in that coimty over the lowest of the 
two Republican candidates; but Somerset, with her 
2,000 Republican majority, defeated him. 

Cessna decided to contest the election on the grotmd 
that Bedford had a constitutional right to choose a 
member of the Legislature. The county of Bedford 
had been created by law before the adoption of the 
first Constitution of Pennsylvania, and one of the 
provisions of that Constitution was that each county 
then in existence should always have the right to a 
representative in the popular branch of the Legis- 
lature. The question had never been raised before, 
but Cessna presented an argument not only plausible 
and forceful, and that seemed tmanswerable, declar- 

528 Old Time Notes 

ing that as Bedford was entitled to a member of the 
house by the mandate of the Constitution the person 
receiving a majority of votes for that office within the 
coimty was its constitutional representative. 

I had known Cessna at the bar and in politics for 
a number of years, but our relations at the time of the 
meeting of the Legislature in 1862 were severely 
strained because of a violent personal assault he made 
upon the integrity of my law partner and myself as 
assignees of the Easton estate, that was then the 
largest individual estate in the coimty. He had been 
misled into accepting the trial of the case by assur- 
ances that irregularities or frauds could be proved on 
the part of the assignees, but Cessna's professional 
pride overbalanced his sense of justice, and when the 
testimony closed and his error was apparent, instead 
of frankly submitting the facts to the jury, he delivered 
a most vindictive and defamatory speech against the 
defendants, to which the jury promptly responded by 
making their verdict in precise accord with the balance 
sheet presented by the assignees. I felt that Cessna 
had wantonly violated professional ethics, and our 
intercourse thereafter never exceeded the severest 
formal courtesies. 

When the Legislature met in January, Cessna was 
present and most desirous to win his seat, and on a 
technical groimd that had never before been presented 
to either branch of the Legislature. As political 
passion was then at its zenith, it goes without saying 
that the Republicans were next to solid in declaring 
that Cessna's contest was a mere invention of a ctm- 
ning lawyer, and the Democrats were ready to sustain 
him. Had the issue been reversed, the Democrats 
would have been solid against Cessna's interpretation 
of the Constitution, and the Republicans would have 
been as earnestly for him. 

* •* • • 

• ••• 

> • 

• •• 

» •• • 

Of Pennsylvania 529 

With a doubtftil house, and with the delicate move- 
ments necessary to control its organization with the 
aid of the War Democrats, I had given no attention 
whatever to Cessna's contest, and felt little or no 
interest in it. If he were admitted I had confidence 
that he wotild be on the loyal side of the war issue, 
and I knew that his ambition to be Governor wotild 
make him a very dangerous man in the house to lock 
horns with the investigation movement that was 
expected to enable Hopkins to distance all his Demo- 
cratic competitors in the race for the next guberna- 
torial nomination. 

Cessna and I passed many times during the first 
week of the session without any more than a nod from 
each other, but he finally stopped me in the rotunda 
and said : " There are some things here that you know I 
want; there are some things that I know you don't 
want; and I think we could be of service to each 

I answered with an invitation for him to call at my 
room that evening. At the appointed time he was 
my visitor, and at once proposed that we be entirely 
frank with each other. He said that he wanted two 
things ; first, to be admitted to the house on a contest, 
and second, to have a bill passed by both branches 
and signed by the Gk)vemor separating Bedford from 
Somerset as a legislative district, and he added that 
I could help him to both. On the other hand, he said 
that I needed some one within the inner Democratic 
circle to conserve the Hopkins investigation move- 
rnent, with which he had no sympathy, and against 
which his political interests were arrayed. 

I told him that I believed he was lawfully entitled 
to the seat, that I had no personal or partisan objec- 
tions to him obtaining it, that I could see the way 
dear to pass the amendment to the Legislative appor- 


S30 Old Time Notes 

tionment that he desired, but I wanted to know in 
detail just what he proposed to do in the investiga- 
tion movement that was then made a strictly partisan 
measure, and was expected to enable the Democrats 
to regain control of the State. 

He imderstood the situation perfectly in all its 
details, and proposed a programme himself that I could 
not have improved in any measure. Our understand- 
ing was complete, and the agreement was carried out 
to the letter on both sides. 

Contested seats were then decided by a committee 
drawn by the clerk from a box containing the names 
of the members written on small slips of paper. It was 
a perfect lottery, and with a hotise nearly equally 
divided politically, the chances were about even that 
the committee thus drawn would be Democratic or 
Republican. I gave Cessna the names of ten Repub- 
lican members of the house, and told him that he 
could safely accept any of them, if necessary to accept 
any Republicans, in drawing his committee. He 
naturally inquired whether I knew of their views on the 
question, to which I answered that I did not, but all 
of them were in a position that made it important for 
them to protect themselves, and that Cessna would 
be in the best attitude to render them service. Not 
one of them was ever spoken to on the subject, as 
Cessna had the accidental fortune of drawing a dis- 
tinct Democratic committee; but if he had failed in 
getting a Democratic committee, he could have ac- 
cepted one or more of the Republicans named and 
been entirely safe in his admission. 

The agreement to amend the Legislative apportion- 
ment by a special act making Somerset and Bedford 
separate legislative districts, was not spoken of to any 
one by either Cessna or myself, until near the close 
of the session, when he passed the bill in the house 

Of Pennsylvania 531 

with a large Republican support, and when it came 
to the senate it was advocated by the Democratic 
friends of Cessna, and explanations were made to the 
Republican senators that made most of them join 
in passing the bill. It was promptly signed by the 
Governor, and Cessna was elected to the house the 
following year, and as the house had ten Democratic 
majority, he was again elected speaker. 

Cessna was one of the shrewdest of our Permsyl- 
vania politicians, and from the day he entered the 
house imtil the session closed, he carefully studied 
how to weaken Hopkins, all the time keeping inside 
the Democratic breastworks, and Cessna more than 
any other person in the body made Hopkins practically 
foi^otten as a hopeful candidate for Governor by 
the time the session ended. He did not show his 
hand in open hostility to Hopkins tmtil the session 
was about to close, when a motion was made to permit 
the committee to continue its investigation during 
the recess. Cessna took the floor, denoimced the 
proposition as utterly unwarranted, and carried a 
large majority in the house with him in requiring 
the committee to make its final report before the 
adjournment and end its duties. 

Cessna's re-election to the house in 1862, and his 
successful contest for the speakership made him still 
hopeful that he could win the Democratic nomination 
for Governor, and had he been nominated it is quite 
likely that he could have been elected, as Curtin would 
not have been a candidate, because of his apparently 
hopelessly broken health, if the Democrats had pre- 
sented as their nominee a man of positive loyalty in 
support of the war; but before the close of the session 
of 1863, it was quite evident that Cessna would be 
no more acceptable as a candidate for Governor than 
Hopkins, and he felt that his want of availability 

532 Old Time Notes 

before the Demoratic State convention was his loyalty 
in support of the war. 

Judge Woodward, afterward chief justice of the 
State, was made the Democratic candidate for Gov- 
emor on a platform that was ojffensive to the loyal 
Democrats of the State. Cessna retired from active 
participation in the campaign, and it was an open 
secret that he voted for Curtin, although he made no 
public expression on the subject; but the following 
year in a commencement address before Franklin and 
Marshall College, he declared himself distinctly in 
favor of supporting Lincobi, and was soon thereafter 
received into full Republican fellowship, and one year 
later, in 1865, he was made chairman of the Repub- 
lican State committee. In 1868 he was elected to 
Congress as the Republican candidate, defeating 
Judge Kimmell, and in 1870 he was defeated by Benja- 
min F. Meyers, Democrat, who was in turn defeated 
by Cessna in 1872. His last political effort was dis- 
astrous, as he was defeated for president judge in the 
Bedford and Somerset district by Mr. Baer, Demo- 

He rendered very important service to the Repub- 
lican party when he was acting with it as a full-fledged 
Republican partisan, but the greatest service he ever 
rendered to any party was the imseen and generally 
imknown service he rendered to the Republicans in 
the memorable turbulent Legislative session of 1862. 

Hopkins was an experienced legislator and a man 
of unfaltering integrity. He was not playing the mere 
political demagogue in his movements to investigate 
the tonnage tax legislation. He would have made 
that investigation regardless of any interest he had 
in his party or in his own nomination for the office of 
Governor, but he was naturally inspired in his work 
by the hope and beUef that a tidal wave of prejudice 

Of Pennsylvania 533 

against corporate enterprise generally, and especially 
against the Pennsylvania Railroad, would lead to,a 
political revolution that could not fail to give the 
Democrats success, and he believed that his promi- 
nence in the sensational exposures he expected to 
make would be a great aid to him in his contest for the 
Democratic nomination. He had been prominent 
in the Legislature nearly half a generation before, and 
was speaker of what was known as the Hopkins house 
in the bloodless farce known as the Buckshot War, 
in 1838. 

He was thoroughly equipped to manage his move- 
ment on safe political lines, and he was soon sur- 
prised, after his investigation got imder way, to learn 
that five of the seven members of his committee con- 
served him in every aggressive movement, and he 
was forced to narrow his investigation to lines entirely 
outside of politics. He also felt a quiet but very 
effective restraining power in his movements within 
his own Democratic circle in the house. It was not 
until near the close of the session that he discovered 
its source, and he was dumfoimded when he learned 
that Cessna was its inspiration. 

Cessna was a consummate political strategist, and 
Hopkins foimd himself sidetracked time and again 
without being able to see from what source the jolt 
had come, but he was wise enough to appreciate the 
fact that he had nothing to gain by violent or revo- 
lutionary measures, and he quietly accepted the situa- 
tion and made the investigation a substantial success 
in vindication of his movement, but entirely stripped 
of all sensational features. 

At an important stage of the investigation, when 
he had fully discovered that he was not master of 
the poUcy of his own committee, and did not feel 
safe in venturing to assert his mastery in the house, 

534 Old Time Notes 

he brought to Harrisbtirg a close personal and political 
friend, who, after a conference with Hopkins, called 
upon George V. Lawrence, Republican member of 
the senate, with the request that Lawrence should 
brii\g Hopkins* friend to me to vouch for his absolute 
reliability, as Hopkins desired to communicate with 
me through his friend on several matters relating to 
the investigation, and the commimications to be 
sacredly confidential between ourselves. 

Senator Lawrence, while politically opposed to 
Hopkins, was his personal friend, although not in 
sympathy with his investigation movement that was 
accepted on all sides as a violent partisan measure. 

I assured Hopkins, through his friend, in the presence 
of Lawrence that any commimication from him would 
be received in confidence and answered frankly, the 
answer to be regarded with equal sanctity as between 
ourselves. The result was that I received many 
personal communications from Hopkins and answered 
all with perfect frankness. He knew that the polit- 
ical feature of the movement was practically de- 
stroyed, and all he desired was that he should not be 
hindered in obtaining testimony that would warrant 
him in making a report justifying the public accusa- 
tions he had made that imlawful measures had been 
employed to accomplish the passage of the repeal 
of the tonnage tax. 

I did not seek to hinder him in attaining that end. 
Indeed, I would have been glad if many of the black- 
mailers who had fastened themselves upon Colonel 
Scott in his desperate battle for a liberal commercial 
and industrial policy in the State could have been 
sent to prison if done without involving others who 
yielded to more than questionable methods only 
from imperious necessity to accomplish indispensable 

Of Pennsylvania 535 

For several weeks before the close of the investiga- 
tion his messenger visited me every evening, and finally 
brought me a rough draft of the rejxjrt prepared by 
Hopkins for the committee. It was temperate, but 
fully sustained Hopkins in demanding tiie investi- 
gation, and it was returned with entire approval. 
During that time I met Hopkins in and about the 
Capitol, but in no instance did either allude to the 

Ten years later, when I entered the senate from 
Philadelphia, Hopkins was a member of that body. 
At that time I was admitted to the senate on a contest, 
and before my admission, when my petition was 
pending in the senate, a Republican senator, who 
believed that they had then adopted a party policy 
that would positively exclude my admission, criti- 
cised me with some bitterness on the floor of the 
senate^ to which Hopkins replied in my defense with 
great earnestness. We served together in that body 
for two sessions, and always aided each other when 
support was needed, but the one subject that never 
was alluded to was the investigation of 1862. 

The struggle to disarm the partisan features of the 
Hopkins investigation of 1862 was not the most 
important feature of that duty. It was good politics 
to control the investigation as it was controlled, but 
there was a much higher and far-reaching issue in- 
volved. It was the first successful battle that was 
made against the narrow, illiberal flood-tide of preju- 
dice cherished throughout Pennsylvania against every- 
thing approaching liberal progress and the develop- 
ment of the boundless wealth of our great Common- 
wealth; a prejudice that was the plaything of every 
demagogic political movement, and that held the 
richest of all the States in the Union botmd in lead- 
ing strings of ignorance and bigotry; and had the 

536 Old Time Notes 

Hopkins investigation been permitted to fan the 
flames of popular prejudice that then prevailed in the 
State, the Pennsylvania Railroad would have been 
remanded back to destructive tonnage taxes; the 
commerce of Pennsylvania would have been driven 
to great marts of commerce outside of the State, and 
our tmtold millions of sltunbering wealth would have 
been denied a liberal policy for its development for a 
decade or more. 

Fortimately the Civil War quickened our industries 
and invited corporate interests to harvest millions 
from our oil, our coal, our iron, our Itunber and other 
channels of industry, and the battle against the liberal 
progress then inaugurated, that has since added billions 
to the wealth of Pennsylvania, was never thereafter 
seriously renewed. It was the last struggle of Penn- 
sylvania to rescue herself from a suicidal policy, and 
our great State in a single decade thereafter advanced 
more in the development of wealth, the diffusion of 
education , and in prosperity throughout all the chan- 
nels of industry and trade, than it ever before ad- 
vanced in half a century. 

Of Pennsylvania 537 


Difficulty in Ptimishing Troops — Volunteering had Ceased — The Altoona 
Conference of Loyal Governors Suggested byCurtin — ^That Meeting 
Enabled the President to Obtain All the Troops Needed— The 
Author Called to Take Charge of the Draft in Pennsylvania, a 
Most Laborious and Complicated Task — Political Interests Openly 
Disregarded in the Selecting of Draft Officers — Rebellion of the 
Molly Maguires — ^They Riotously Drove Conscripts From the Cars 
in Schuylkill County — Stanton Ordered the Author to Hurry 
Troops to the Molly Maguire Region and Enforce the Draft — Lin- 
coln's Sagacious Method of Avoiding a Conflict in the Enforcement 
of the Draft — Philadelphia Evades the Draft. 

EIGHTEEN hundred and sixty -two was an eventftil 
year in the history of the war. Grant had 
achieved important Union victories in the South- 
west, capturing Forts Henry and Donaldson and Nash- 
ville, the capital of Tennessee, followed by the final 
victory of his army at Shiloh, after having suffered a 
costly and humiliating defeat on the first day of the 
battle. Missouri was in a state of anarchy, the sup- 
porters and opponents of the Union making it a death 
struggle even between neighbors. In the East bloody 
battles had been fought, all of which were disastrous 
to the Union cause, with the single exception of An- 
tietam, that was practically a drawn battle . McClellan 
had been defeated in the Seven Days battles on the 
peninsula, and the combined Union armies were again 
defeated on the old Bull Rim field under Pope, suffering 
great loss of prestige for the Army of the Potomac and 
a fearful sacrifice of life. The Union sentiment of the 
State was greatly chilled, and the political situation 
was most embarrassing for the Union party. 

538 Old Time Notes 

A large increase of the army was an imperious neces- 
sity for the successful prosecution of the war, but 
President Lincobi hesitated to issue a call for addi- 
tional troops because he feared it might result in 
organized opposition to the further prosecution of the 
war. Indeed, only the few who had accurate knowl- 
edge of the situation had any conception of the grave 
peril that confronted the administration. Our great 
army in the East had been defeated in repeated battles, 
its numbers were greatly reduced, and only by speedy 
and large reinforcements could the tide of disaster 
be turned to victory. Governor Curtin was then 
prostrated by a malady for which he could find no 
relief except in a very seriotis surgical operation. He 
was utterly exhausted by his continued efforts to 
sustain the government, but he was finally compelled 
to go to New York, under the strict orders of his phy- 
sician that no official btisiness should be permitted to 
reach him. 

The President and cabinet had given very careful 
consideration to the question of raising additional 
troops, and they decided that it would be unsafe for 
the government to venture upon a call for the 300,000 
additional soldiers needed without having an appeal 
made to the government by some highly responsible 
and representative class of men in the North. The 
scheme worked out by the cabinet was for Secretary 
Seward to proceed to New York and summon a con- 
ference of the mayors of the prominent cities of the 
North, with a view of having them tmite in an earnest 
request to the President to hasten the conclusion of 
the war by summoning a large increase of troops for 
the army, to enable it to hasten the overthrow of the 
military power of the South. 

Seward went to New York and made his headquarters 
at the Astor House. Fortunately, Thomas A. Scott 

Of Pennsylvania 539 

was with him, and he suggested to Seward that Gover- 
nor Curtin was in the city, and as Pennsylvania was the 
most important State to be consulted, it might be well 
for the Secretary to confer with Ctirtin. Scott was 
sent to present the matter to the Governor, and he 
was soon almost entirely forgetful of his illness, and in 
defiance of the protest of his physician, he accom- 
panied Scott to the Astor Hotise, where Secretary 
Seward tmfolded his plan. 

Curtin at once said: "You are not assured of the 
loyalty of all the mayors of the prominent cities of the 
East, but you have an imbroken circle of loyal Gover- 
nors in the Northern States, and they could make a 
demand upon the government for a speedy and large 
increase of the army, with vastly more force than could 
the mayors of the cities." 

Seward gladly accepted the suggestion, and within 
a few hours Curtin had responses from a large majority 
of the Governors of the North cordially approving the 
proposition for a general conference, and on the 14th 
of September, 1862, the following call was issued for 
what is now known in the history of the war as the 
Altoona conference: 

We invite a meeting of the Governors of the loyal States to be held at 

Altoona, Pa., on the 34th inst. 

A. G. Curtin, Pennsylvania. 

David Todd, Ohio. 

F. H. PiERPONT, Virginia. 
September, 14, 1862. 

The call was responded to by nearly all, and I believe 
quite all of the loyal Governors of the North, with the 
single exception of Governor Morgan, of New York, 
who declined for reasons that were never given to the 
public. After the call had been issued, but before the 
meeting was held, the battle of Antietam was fought 

S40 Old Time Notes 

that gave the semblance of victory to the Union army, 
and the preliminary emancipation proclamation had 
been issued by the President, who had personally con- 
ferred with a large number of the loyal Governors on 
the subject, and it was well imderstood that the 
Altoona conference was not only called for the speedy 
and large increase of the army, but to indorse the 
emancipation policy of the government. 

The address to the President was written chiefly by 
Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, assisted by Gov- 
ernor Curtin, and after it was adopted it was decided 
that the members of the corrference should call upon 
the President in prson to give the greatest possible 
effect to their action. 

This conference, with the earnestly patriotic tone of 
the utterances made by the Governors, and of the 
formal address they presented to the President, at 
once lifted the North out of the slough of despair, and 
Lincoln was entirely clear to call for 300,000 additional 
troops. It was, in fact, the turning point of the war, 
and but for the precaution taken to educate the loyal 
sentiment in the North up to the point of accepting 
the fearful sacrifices necessary to sustain the Union, 
it is doubtful whether the government could have 
been successful in replenishing the broken lines of our 

A call had been made for 300,000 troops on the 7th 
of July, 1862, and the quota of Pennsylvania was about 
17,000 or 18,000, and it was evident that the quota 
could not be furnished by voltmteers. The boimty 
system that was soon thereafter inaugurated, and that 
later grew to fearful proportions, had not then been 
resorted to, and a draft to fill our quota became an 
imperative necessity. 

The National conscription act did not become oper- 
ative imtil 1863, and there was no authority in the 

Of Pennsylvania 541 

government to draft men for a period exceeding nine 
months. To organize and execute a draft in a great 
State like Pennsylvania was a most appalling task, 
as it involved the most careftd visitation to every 
household in the State to ascertain the names of those 
who were subject to military duty, and to ascertain, 
also, how many volimteers were then in the service 
from each township or ward. After such enumeration 
an exhaustive tabulation of the conscripts due from 
each of the two thousand districts in liie State was 
necessary, and, after the draft, each conscript had the 
right to appeal to a commissioner and surgeon of the 
coimty to claim that he had lawful reasons for not 
accepting military service. The draft had to be made 
by State officers, and their compensation depended 
upon individual settlements with the National govern- 

When the Legislature adjourned in the spring of 
1862 I had given five years of continuous service in 
one or the other branch, and for more than two 
years, with my duties as chairman of the State com- 
mittee, and the exhaustive duties required at Harris- 
burg, I had practically no time to give to professional, 
personal or private interests. I annotmced at the 
adjournment of the Legislature that I would not be 
a candidate for re-election to the senate, and would 
not continue as chairman of the State committee. I 
greatly needed rest, and long-neglected business in- 
terests demanded my attention. I felt a most grati- 
fying sense of relief when I went home, believing that 
I could have a season of rest with no more th^ the 
ordinary business interests to be cared for. 

When Curtin foimd that a draft was a necessity, he 
well imderstood the magnitude of the movement, and 
how easily it could be made disastrous in alienating 
loyal Democratic sentiment if the draft had even the 

54^ Old Time Notes 

semblance of partisanship in its execution. He sent 
for me and made an earnest appeal to me to take 
charge of the draft, but I could not entertain it. Just 
when I had hoped for a season of rest from the most 
wearing labors, I was confronted with the proposition 
to accept the most responsible and delicate duties 
that could be presented. He was very positive in 
urging my acceptance, but I was resolute in declining, 
and he could not but confess that I had good reasons 
for it. 

I returned home happy in the belief that I had 
escaped a fearful responsibility ; but the next day I 
received a telegram from the President and proceeded 
to Washington. He informed me that Curtin had 
presented "Qie situation in Pennsylvania to him, and 
said that he had sent for me to urge as a personal 
service to himself that I should take personal charge 
of the draft in Pennsylvania. It was not possible to 
refuse the President, and I most reluctantly acceded 
to his wishes. 

The mere matter of making the enumeration in the 
State and calculating the quota of each district was 
not the alarming feature of the new duty I had accepted. 
Competent men could be employed for the performance 
of all such duties, but with the Democratic party only 
partially loyal to the government and the Republican 
party disheartened to the verge of despair, it was an 
imperious necessity that the c&aft shotdd be executed 
at every stage and in every feattire with open and 
absolute freedom from all partisan or personal interests. 

I reported to the Governor and told him that I had 
agreed to take charge of the draft without commission 
or compensation, requiring only that I should be 
allowed to select two thoroughly competent clerks 
who should be paid by the State $ioo a month. That 
was accepted and I had most competent and faithful 

of Pennsylvania 543 

service from ex-Senator James M. Sellers, of Juniata, 
and ex-Representative John McCurdy, of Ctimberland. 

A commissioner and surgeon of tilie draft were re- 
quired to be appointed in each cotmty of the State. 
Under the law it was the duty of the commissioner to 
appoint proper canvassers to make the enumera- 
tion of each township, and the surgeon and commis- 
sioner, who constituted the board, had power to dis- 
charge any conscript upon proof that he was not sub- 
ject to niilitary duty, or for any other reason for 
which he was ineligible for the service. 

I knew that the small politicians of each cotmty 
would make an earnest struggle to control the com- 
missioner and surgeon in their respective coimties to 
wield the power to assure the discharge of conscripts 
where it would serve political ends. The selection 
of these officers was therefore a most important duty, 
and I knew how the Governor would be importtmed to 
appoint men who had rendered service to the party, 
and who would be likely to render service to their 
party friends in deciding appeals for release from con- 
script service. 

I said to the Governor that only on one condition 
would I take charge of the draft, and that was that in 
every other cotmty of the State but his own county of 
Centre I should be entirely free to appoint the com- 
missioner and surgeon for each county without con- 
sulting any one. I told him why I made the demand; 
that I believed it to be absolutely necessary to have 
these commissioners and surgeons one of each party 
in every county and men who would be accepted at 
once as entirely beyond the reach of political influence 
to favor conscripts who desired to escape from the 

Curtin not only promptly assented to this, but said 
he would be glad to be able to say to all who came to 

544 Old Time Notes 

him that the matter was not in his hands, and that the 
appointments would be made solely with reference to 
the miUtary service. I was then quite familiar with 
the public men in every coimty of the State, and within 
twenty-four houre I had made out a list of commis- 
sioners and surgeons for each county. 

The Governor had given me the names of the persons 
for his own county, but beyond that he did not know 
of another appointment that was to be made until I 
presented the list, and when he saw it he was delighted, 
as it at once disarmed all apprehension as to partisan 
manipulation or other interference in the execution of 
the draft. 

I made William Henry Allen, Republican, then presi- 
dent of Girard College, commissioner for Philadelphia, 
and Dr. Gerhard, a man eminent in his profession, 
and a pronounced Democrat, the surgeon. In Mont- 
gomery I made James Boyd, then a prominent lawyer 
and D»emocrat of Norristown, and until his death the 
honored nestor of the bar, commissioner, with a Repub- 
Ucan surgeon of the highest character; and in Lancaster 
I appointed James L. Reynolds, a prominent Demo- 
crat, and brother of General Rejmolds, who fell at 
Gettysburg, the commissioner for that Gibraltar of 

When the list of appointments was announced, 
showing that the commissioners and stirgeons had all 
been selected with the single reference to their ability 
and integrity, and both parties equally represented, 
public sentiment throughout the entire State was at 
once disarmed of all apprehension as to any partisan 
aims in the execution of the draft, and we thus had a 
clear field for the important task that was before us. 

While it was accepted on all sides, after the commis- 
sioners and surgeons of the draft had been announced, 
that partisanship had been entirely eliminated in the 

Of Pennsylvania 545 

execution of the draft, there were seriotis danger sig- 
nals in several sections of the State. It is due to the 
truth of history to say that at that time there was not 
a dominating public sentiment in Pennsylvania that 
heartily supported the war. They did not want to 
accept the dismemberment of the Union, but they were 
hopeful, even in the face of clearly apparent impossi- 
bilities, that in some way the war might be ended by 
compromise, and many of the sincerely loyal men of 
the State gravely doubted whether the military power 
of the Coiifederacy could be broken, and the seceding 
States brought back into submission to the Union. 
That sentiment, however, was really the creation of 
the failure of our army in the East to make successftU 
progress in the prosecution of the war, and it was evi- 
dent that Union victories in the field would restore 
Pennsylvania to aggressive loyalty. 

The hesitating, doubting sentiment relating to the 
war was not the most to be feared. In several of the 
mining districts there were positive indications of 
revolutionary disloyalty, and it was especially mani- 
fested in Schuylkill, where the Molly Maguires were 
then in the zenith of their power. The center of their 
power was in Cass Township, where thirteen murders 
had been committed within two or three years, and 
not a single murderer brought to punishment. They 
successfully dominated the politics of the cotmty, and 
made even the judges and court officers and jurors fear 
them. They had a very compact secret organization, 
and, as was developed in the later remarkable trial 
and conviction of the leaders by Mr. Gowan, they 
many times decided on the murder of an individual, 
drew lots as to who should commit the crime, and in 
nearly or quite every instance the chosen victim suf- 
fered a violent death. They were implacably hostile 
to the Republican party, and to the loyal sentiment 


546 Old Time Notes 

that demanded the prosecution of the war, and they 
openly declared their ptirpose not to submit to the con- 
scription that was about to be enforced. 

I had chosen Benjamin Bannan, one of the most 
prominent and sagacious citizens of the coimty, then 
editor of the Pottsville "Journal," as commissioner 
for that coimty, not only because of his high character 
and admitted ability, but because of his intimate 
knowledge of all the political ramifications of the Com- 
monwealth, including the Molly Maguires. He was 
very reluctant to accept the position, but when the 
needs of the case were explained to him he finally agreed 
to assume the task, and it was a task of appalling mag- 
nitude. He selected with the greatest care the men 
who were to make the entmieration of these districts, 
and although they were hindered at every stage in 
the immediate Molly Maguire region, they managed 
to get a fairiy accurate enimieration without provoking 
any outbreak. 

Cass Township had an agricultural section in it that 
was entirely different from the Molly Maguires who 
ruled the mines, and the residents there were generally 
loyal. Of course, such a township would not have an 
excess of volunteers in the service, and an tmusually 
large quota was officially returned to Commissioner 
Bannan with directions to fill the same with conscripts, 
and on the i6th day of October the list of conscripts 
was drawn for every district in the State, and it in- 
cluded a few of the agricultural people of Cass Town- 
ship, and a much larger nimiber of miners, all of whom 
were under the absolute influence of the Molly Maguires. 
The conscripts were ordered to start for Harrisburg 
on a given day, and those of the agricultural portion 
of Cass Township appeared at the depot to take the 
train for Harrisburg, but the Molly Maguire conscripts, 
with a number of their friends, appeared also, and not 

of Pennsylvania 547 

only refused to respond to the call of the State by going 
to Harrisburg, but riotously excluded the willing 
conscripts from the car. 

The facts were promptly telegraphed me by Bannan, 
and in turn I promptly commtmicated them to Secre- 
tary Stanton, of the War Department. Stanton was 
strenuously loyal and at times impetuous when con- 
fronted by open disregard of law. He at once tele- 
graphed me, assigning a regiment in Harrisburg and 
another in Philadelphia to be subject to my orders 
to be sent at once to Schuylkill County with orders 
to enforce the draft at the point of the bayonet. 

After consultation with the Governor he urged that 
a conflict between our own troops and rioters opposing 
the execution of the draft would be most disastrous in 
its consequences, not only at home, but throughout 
the country, and in accordance with his views I pre- 
pared an answer to Secretary Stanton suggesting that 
haste should be avoided in forcing a conflict between 
the troops and the Cass Township insurgents. 

He promptly answered repeating his order that the 
regiments should be started at once to Schuylkill 
County, and the draft enforced without parleying. 
The troops were ordered to prepare at once to be 
transported to Pottsville in accordance with the direc- 
tions of the Secretary of War, and they arrived in 
Pottsville on the following day, but no orders had been 
given to them beyond going to that point. 

After further conference with the Governor I pre- 
pared a dispatch in cypher to President Lincoln, 
giving the Governor's views as to the peril of provoking 
a conflict with the Schuylkill rioters and asked for an 
early answer. This despatch was sent some time in 
the afternoon, and we were greatly disappointed that no 
answer came to it, although I waited tmtil two o'clock 
in the morning, hoping to receive it. I slept little 

548 Old Time Notes 

and was up early in the morning, and when I entered 
the breakfast room at the hotel I saw Assistant Adju- 
tant General Townsend at the table, and he at once 
beckoned me to come and join him. 

I was well acquainted with him, and was greatly 
gratified at seeing him, as I did not doubt that he had 
some official instructions for me. He at once informed 
me that he had been sent by President Lincoln to see 
me and to deliver a personal message, saying that he 
did not know to what the message related. He said 
the President had instructed him to inform me that he 
was desirous, of course, to see the law executed, or at 
least to appear to have been executed, to which he 
added: **I think McClure will tmderstand/* General 
Townsend said : "I have no knowledge as to the subject 
matter of this commtmication that I have delivered 
exactly as instructed.'' 

Without waiting for breakfast I sent a despatch to 
Commissioner Bannan to come to Harrisburg at once, 
and he was there very soon after noon, and we at once 
went to the Executive chamber and discussed the 
situation with the Governor. Lincoln's message was 
well tmderstood. Bannan was most desirous for a 
peaceful solution of the problem, and he said that the 
draft could not be executed in Cass Township without 
a bloody conflict with the Molly Maguires, and he could 
conceive of no method by which there could be given 
the appearance of executing the law. 

I told him that there was but one way in which it 
could be done; that several districts in the State had 
shown conclusively that their quota had been entirely 
filled by voltmteers, some of whom had enlisted in 
county towns or in the cities and had not been properly 
credited to the township as the law required. Where 
the facts were made clear I had at once revoked the 
order for the draft, and I said that only in that way 

Of Pennsylvania 549 

could the Cass Township problem be solved if it were 

Barman made no reply, but took his hat, hastened 
to the train and reached Pottsville the same evening. 
On the following evening he was back in Harrisburg 
with a large number of affidavits regularly executed 
before a justice of the peace or notary public, proving 
on their face that the quota of Cass Township had been 
filled by volunteers, chiefly by men connected with the 
mines who had enlisted from the towns or cities where 
companies or regiments were being formed. The 
affidavits were carefully tabulated and they made the 
quota of Cass Township entirely full. They were 
tmdisputed, and I at once issued the order releasing 
the conscripts of Cass Township from reporting for 
duty because the quota had been filled with volimteers. 

Commissioner Barman did not proffer any explana- 
tion as to how the affidavits had been obtained, nor 
did the Governor or myself make any inquiry. The 
law appeared to be executed, although all connected 
with its execution were entirely satisfied that the 
affidavits were fictitious, but it was an imperious 
necessity to avoid a conflict between the Molly Magtiires 
and the troops, and that was accomplished by Com- 
missioner Bannan furnishing the required affidavits 
that were clothed with all the ceremony of law. The 
troops were at once ordered back from Pottsville, 
and the draft was executed in every other district in 
the State without trouble. 

It is not the exact truth to say that the draft was 
executed in every other district in the State outside 
of Cass Township. It will astound many of the citi- 
zens of Philadelphia to be told that this loyal city did 
not fill its quota of troops as shown to be due by the 
quotas issued for the draft. Philadelphia was short 
pf her quot^ some 3,000 men, and I issued the order 

5SO Old Time Notes 

for a draft on Philadelphia just as it was issued for all 
the other districts of the State. It aroused the greatest 
anxiety among the political leaders of the city, as they 
were entirely convinced that a draft for 3,000 men made 
in Philadelphia would defeat the Republicans at the 
coming election, although the actual draft was not to 
be made imtil a few days thereafter. Philadelphia 
was regarded as the one great loyal city of the Union, 
and an order for a draft in Republican Philadelphia, 
when Berks and Lehigh, the Democratic Gibraltars 
of the State, had promptly filled their quotas to the 
last man by a regiment of volimteers from their own 
people, was regarded as fatal to Republican mastery 
in the city. 

Colonel Mann was a candidate for re-election as dis- 
trict attorney, and was the undisputed political leader. 
The Union Le