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ON the 4th of August, 1823, there was born, in the 
little village of Saulsbury, Wayne County, Indiana, a 
child who was destined to act a very conspicuous part 
in the history of his State and country, and whose name 
is now familiar as household words throughout the land. 
This was Oliver Perry Morton. At that time Sauls- 
bury was the county-seat of Wayne County. The 
village has long since disappeared, and at this time 
scarcely a trace remains of it, only a slight irregularity 
in the surface of the earth indicating the former site of 
the old court-house. Indiana was admitted to the 
Union in 1816, so that the existence of the State an 
tedates that of her greatest son only seven years, while 
a large portion of his life, briefly recorded in these 
pages, was closely identified with the most eventful 
passages in her history. No other man has ever been 
BO revered or honored in Indiana, and of all those born 


within her borders none has contributed so largely to 
the honor and renown of the State as he of whom we 
write. It is fitting that the record of such a life, so 
full of inspiration and encouragement for the young, of 
edification for the old, and of interest for all, should be 
placed within easy reach of every citizen of the State, 
so that not only may his memory be sacredly preserved, 
but others be stirred to emulate his virtues. 

Oliver Perry Morton was of English descent on his 
father s side, and from that race he probably drew some 
of the most marked traits of his character. Steadiness 
of purpose, strong convictions and devotion to the right, 
are commonly supposed to be especially characteristic 
of the English people, and Oliver P. Morton had all 
these qualities in a marked degree. His grandfather 
emigrated from England about the beginning of the 
llevolutionary War, and settled in New Jersey. The 
family name was originally Throckmorton, and was so 
written by the grandfather. It is not known just when 
this was changed to Morton, nor why, though a suffi 
cient reason would be found in the fact of the latter 
being much more convenient. But the first syllable of 
the name has always been preserved in the family as a 
middle name. Oliver P. Morton s father s middle 
name was Throck, as is also that of one of his surviv 
ing sons. William T. Morton, father of Oliver P., 
was a native of New Jersey and a man of sterling 
worth. It is not known that he possessed any brilliant 
tjualities, but he was a man of sound sense, excellent 
judgment, and strict integrity. While yet a young man 


he emigrated to the West, and after a short sojourn in 
Ohio, finally located in Wayne County, Indiana. He 
married his first wife, a Miss Miller, at Spring Dale, 
Ohio, and by her had three children. His second wife 
was a sister of the first. Her maiden name was Sarah 
Miller, and this was the mother of Oliver P. Morton. 
Her ancestry is not known, but that she must have been 
a woman of amiable disposition and rare force of char 
acter we can readily believe from the remarkable com 
bination of gentleness and force, of tenderness and 
strength found in her son. Observation confirms the 
law of physiology and nature that weak-minded women 
are rarely the mothers of great men. The same evi 
dence which establishes the theory of hereditary trans 
mission of intellect also proves that in a large majority 
of cases men who achieve greatness inherit their ruling 
traits from the mother. Under this law the mother of 
Oliver P. Morton, though perhaps neither educated nor 
accomplished, according to the common acceptation of 
these terms, must have been a woman of very high and 
noble qualities. She died while Oliver was quite 
young, so that he scarcely ever knew what it was to 
have a mother s love or care. The family, though not 
wealthy, were, for that day, in moderate and comfort 
able circumstances. The father was at one time en 
gaged in the building of the old Hamilton and Cincin 
nati Canal, but his contracts proved unsuccessful and he 
returned to his trade, which was that of a shoemaker. 
iVhen the county-seat was changed from Saulsbury to 
Centerville, he removed his shop from the former to the 
latter place on wheels. 


But while the family were in moderately comfortable 
circumstances for that day, and able to maintain a 
respectable position, Oliver had none of the adventi 
tious aids of wealth or social position in early life. 
Perhaps it happens as often as not that these are a 
positive detriment, and it may be that his strong and 
rugged character was better developed for the lack of 
such enervating aid as wealth might have brought. At 
all events one of the grandest lessons to be drawn from 
his career is that humble birth and adverse circum 
stances are no bar to the achievement of the highest 
distinction and greatest honors under our benign form 
of government. 

Oliver P. Morton was named after Commodore 
Oliver H. Perry, the naval hero. The battle of Lake 
Erie had been fought not many years before, and the 
fact of his bearing this honored name shows that his 
father was fully imbued with the patriotic sentiments 
of that period. Oliver s full name was Oliver Hazard 
Perry Morton, but the second title was thrown aside 
just as the first syllable of the family surname had 
previously been for conveniency, and the name adopted 
as now well-known to fame. Of young Morton s 
early life we know but little. After the death of 
his mother much of his time, perhaps most of his 
boyhood, was passed with his grand-parents in Ohio 
and with two widowed aunts in Centerville. In later 
life he used to refer with reverence and affection to 
the pious teachings of his grand-parents. His aunts 
were Presbyterians of the strictest kind, and the early 


impressions received from them gave a coloring to the 
convictions of his whole life. His father s moderate 
circumstances allowed him little opportunity for early 
education, and it is not known that at this period of his 
life he gave any evidence of future greatness. When 
about fourteen years old he was placed by his aunts in 
the Wayne County Seminary. Professor S. K. Hos- 
hour, who was principal of the school at that time, 
writes : " He was a timid and rather verdant-looking 
youth ; " and adds, " His mental manifestations at that 
time were not equal to those of some of his school 
mates, but his steady demeanor and persistent applica 
tion to his studies gave him a respectable position in 

his classes If some knowing genius had then 

suggested to me that the future governor, par excel 
lence, of Indiana was then in the group around me, I 
should probably have sought him in a more bustling 
form, with brighter eyes and a more marked head, than 
Oliver s." But the race is not always to the swift. 
If Oliver was not the most showy boy in his class he 
had qualities beneath the surface, as yet undeveloped, 
which were destined in future years to place him far 
above his fellows and cause him to be ranked among 
the great men of his time. He remained at this school 
a little more than a year and at the age of fifteen was 
put to work in Centerville with his elder half-brother, 
William T. Morton, to learn the hatter s trade. It was 
probably the expectation of his friends that this would 
oe his life pursuit, but Providence had not so ordained. 
Even at that early age he felt powers and possibilities 


within him which demanded larger expression and 
fuller development. During the four years which he 
devoted to learning the hatter s trade his spare hours 
were spent in reading, and the information thus acquired 
begot so great a thirst for knowledge that he finally quit 
his trade in the beginning of 1843 and entered Miami 
University, at Oxford, Ohio. He remained at college 
two years, his vigorous mind eagerly grasping and ap 
propriating all the means of knowledge within his 
reach. One of his teachers at that time says he was " a 
diligent, earnest student ; modest, but not timid ; plain, 
but not verdant ; and more anxious to acquire knowledge 
than to display it." The latter clause of this statement 
was characteristic of him through life ; he was always 
more anxious to understand a subject than to advertise 
his knowledge, prizing the consciousness of power far 
above mere display. During his stay at the institution 
above named he achieved the reputation of being the 
best debater in college, showing that those powers of 
analysis and argument which were to make him so 
celebrated in after life were now receiving their first 
development. He also became a favorite member of 
the Beta Theta Pi Society, a college organization 
whose exclusiveness is sufficient guarantee of the social 
as well as intellectual status of its members. From all 
this we infer that Morton stood well at college. After 
two years of study and hard fare (for he was too poor 
to pay for any board except what he could provide in 
his own room) he left college and immediately began 
the study of law in the office of Hon. John S. Newman. 


at Center ville, Indiana. This was in 1845, Morton 
being then nearly twenty-two years old. It speaks 
well for him, and for the record he had made at Cen- 
terville, that after an absence of some years he should 
nave chosen to return there where he had passed so 
large a portion of his youth and begin the study of 
law among the friends and neighbors who had known 
him while he was learning the hatter s trade. On the 
15th of May, 1845, he married Miss Lucinda M. Bur- 
bank, daughter of Isaac Burbank of that place. The 
marriage proved a very happy one, and the gentle lady 
with whom he thus became united exercised a most 
gracious influence over his subsequent life and fortunes. 
The period of boyhood and youth being thus passed he 
stands upon the threshold of active life a married man, 
his profession chosen but not yet acquired, with a fair 
though not thorough education, but with clear head, 
stout heart, and steady purpose. This was the capital 
with which Oliver Perry Morton started in life. 



AT this period of his life it is not probable that Mr. 
Morton had any political aspirations or indeed any 
plans beyond acquiring a knowledge of law and taking 
a proper position at the bar. And in the prosecution 
of this object he had no time to lose, for having as 
sumed the responsibilities of married life it behooved 
him to qualify himself as soon as possible to earn a 
livelihood. But he was not a man who ever lost time 
about anything he undertook. He was always intensely 
in earnest, never a trifler, never wasting time nor dally 
ing with duty. Even in the manner of his marriage 
we seem to discern an evidence of the decision with 
which he acted in all matters and which was one of his 
ruling characteristics. Prudential considerations might 
have suggested the postponement of this event until he 
had acquired his profession and been admitted to the 
bar. He chose to take the important step at once, and 
rely on his future efforts to meet the responsibilities it 

To the study of law Mr. Morton brought the same 
energy of purpose and conscientious effort which had 
now become a recognized trait of his character. His 


two years of college experience, while they had not by 
any means given him a finished education, had taught 
him how to study, and he grappled with the intricacies 
of the law like one who both intended to master them 
and was conscious of his ability to do so. Judge New 
man, his preceptor, says he was laborious in his studies, 
strictly temperate in his habits, and genial in his man 
ners. As in college he had developed solid rather than 
brilliant qualities, so in the study of law he had the rep 
utation of being a close and thorough student rather 
than a showy one. His preceptor is our authority 
again for the statement that "he was a very thorough 
reader and possessed in a remarkable degree the power 
of thinking at all times and in every place." He was 
admitted to the bar in 1847. At that time the bar of 
Wayne and adjacent counties embraced a number of 
the best lawyers in the State, among whom might be 
mentioned John S. Newman, Caleb B. Smith, Samuel 
W. Parker, Jehu T. Elliott, James Rariden, Charles 
H. Test, and others whose names are still well remem 
bered throughout eastern Indiana. Thus, at the very 
outset of his career, Mr. Morton found himself brought 
into professional contact with some of the ablest and 
most cultivated men who have ever graced the profes 
sion in Indiana. It was a good school for a young 
lawyer and well calculated to put him to his best efforts 
and bring out all there was in him. Though he did 
not leap at once to fame, as indeed few lawyers in this 
or any other country have ever done, his success was 
assured from the beginning, and he soon came to be 


recognized as one of the soundest lawyers on that cir 

Surviving members of the bar who met him on the 
circuit speak in terms of high respect of his ability and 
attainments as a lawyer. A friend who knew him well 
at that time says : " At the bar he soon became known 
all over eastern Indiana, and friends and business mul 
tiplied rapidly everywhere." It is the testimony of all 
who knew him at this period of his life, members of the 
legal profession and others, that he possessed a remark 
able faculty of grasping the salient points of a case 
and getting at the heart of a legal question. He was 
never a man of many words, but what he said went to 
the core of things. His mind was massive and logical. 
He had, in a remarkable degree, the faculty of applying 
great legal principles to given cases, of discarding non- 
essentials and getting at decisive points. He advanced 
steadily in the practice, and soon came to be regarded 
as a rising lawyer. So successful was he that in five 
years after his admission to the bar he was appointed 
by the Governor circuit judge to fill an existing va 
cancy on the bench. Considering the circuit and the 
character of the lawyers who then practiced there, this 
was a high distinction, and was justly regarded as a 
handsome recognition of Mr. Morton s personal and 
professional merit. At this time he was only twenty- 
nine years old. He filled this position with credit to 
himself and with entire satisfaction to the profession 
and the public. During the summer of 1852 he ex- 
chano-ed with the judge of the Indianapolis circuit (the 


latter having been counsel in some of the cases pend 
ing in his court) and held court at the capital of the 
State for several days, strongly impressing the bar by 
his mastery of legal principles and by the clearness 
and force of his decisions. 

Some of Mr. Morton s unfriendly critics have asserted 
that he was not a good lawyer. This assumption is 
founded either in prejudice or in misinformation. The 
rapidity with which he^ advanced to a successful prac 
tice in a circuit which embraced some of the best law 
yers in the State would be a sufficient answer to this 
untruthful criticism, but we are permitted to add to this 
the uniform testimony of all those surviving members 
of the profession who remember him either at the bar 
or on the bench. If Mr. Morton had not been a great 
statesman he would have been a great lawyer. The 
memorial unanimously adopted by the bar of Indian 
apolis after his death, drafted by a committee composed 
of some of its ablest members, said : " Having chosen 
his profession, Senator Morton s place in it, by natural 
right, was the front rank, and without a struggle he 
was conspicuous there by force of character, generous 
stores of learning, and eminent ability. He was a judge 
remarkable for the wise, speedy, and impartial adminis 
tration of justice, on an important circuit, at an age 
when most men are making their first steps in profesr 
sional life." At the meeting at which this memorial 
was adopted Governor Hendricks said : " I never met 
Governor Morton in court, and had no knowledge of 
his habits in the management of causes. I have heard 


from others, however, that which convinced me that he 
was very able, and I know that he must have been so, 
because he possessed every qualification for eminence 
in our profession." One who had met him on the cir 
cuit, said : " His great characteristic was that he studied 
up his cases, and he never came into court without giv 
ing evidence of careful preparation. He was an im 
pressive talker, as every lawyer will testify I 

distinctly remember that in the four years before he 
was called into the service of the State, he literally 
annihilated everybody connected with the bar of Wayne 
County, and walked rough-shod over all the other law 
yers of the circuit There are probably few men 

who have at the same age surpassed him in ability and 
success." Another gentleman, an eminent member of 
the Indianapolis bar, said : " I have seen Governor Mor 
ton at the bar and remember the talent he displayed in 

the conduct of an important cause He was a 

great lawyer." Another, prominent at the Indianapolis 
bar, and known throughout the State, writes : " I saw 
him (Mr, Morton) but once in the exercise of the func 
tions of judge. It was in the summer of 1852, in the 

Marion Circuit Court His decision was a clear 

and forcible enunciation of the law, that left no doubt 
in the minds of those who heard it of its correctness. 
His manner during the argument and in rendering his 
judgment was dignified, judicial, and becoming in an 
eminent degree." The Hon. John Caven, present 
mayor of Indianapolis, said: *4 My first address after I 
commenced the practice of law was made before him as 


presiding judge, and I remember to have been greatly 
impressed at the time with the ability he manifested in 
summing up the case." Judge Jacob B. Julian, who 
knew Mr. Morton almost from boyhood, said : " With 
surprising speed he mastered the elementary principles 
of the law, and was admitted to the bar. Entering 
into the practice, his growth as a lawyer was rapid, and 
his professional success assured. ^1 practiced in the 
same court with him for fifteen years. He was an able 
associate, and a formidable competitor. He was polite 
and gentlemanly in his intercourse with his professional 
brethren, in every respect he was a high-toned, honora 
ble gentleman. He bid fair to become one of the fore 
most lawyers of the United States, and doubtless would 
have been if he had not been called into political life." 
Evidence might be multiplied to prove Mr. Morton s 
ability as a lawyer, but the foregoing must suffice. It 
is sufficient answer to those who have, either in igno 
rance or malice, denied the fact. 

Mr. Morton served as judge about a year, but the 
position was not altogether to his taste, and when his 
term expired by the adoption of the new constitution 
in 1852, he willingly relinquished the judgeship to re 
sume the practice of law. Being naturally of a con 
troversial cast of mind, he preferred the bar to the 
bench and professional combat to judicial service. 
And here we have to record a somewhat singular cir 
cumstance. After leaving the bench, and before resum 
ing the active practice of law, Mr. Morton went to Cin 
cinnati and took a six months course in the law school 


of that city. Few lawyers would have done this, and, 
considering his previous years of study and practice, it 
may be doubted whether there was much necessity for 
it in his case. The fact that he did so, however, was 
altogether creditable to him as evincing a desire to cor 
rect whatever deficiencies might exist in his early edu 
cation and to perfect himself in the law. A prominent 
member of the Cincinnati bar, commenting on this fact, 
says : " I have always regarded it as much to his credit 
that before returning to legal practice he took this term 
of six months for systematic study." This was in keep 
ing with his whole character. He always mastered 
whatever he undertook and was not a man to be de 
terred by false pride from going back to acquire knowl 
edge in which he might have felt or imagined himself 
to be deficient. This is probably the only case on rec 
ord of a man going to law school after five years of 
practice and a highly creditable service on the bench. 
During a portion of this time he had for a room-mate 
Mr. Murat Halstead, then recently from college, and 
now editor of " The Cincinnati Commercial." This 
gentleman has kindly furnished some personal recollec 
tions of Mr. Morton at this period. He says : " I was 
much interested in Morton at the time, and have a 
very clear recollection of his appearance and move 
ments. It is possible this is vivified by his subsequent 
celebrity, but I was not surprised when he became a 
distinguished man. I remember that some one said 
tyEorton wore the largest hat and the largest boots in 
the house. This was true as to the boots, I know. 


He was intently studious, and exerted himself to the 
utmost to remedy the deficiencies of his early educa 
tion. Time was very precious to him, and he gave 
his strength to the work. He talked and walked a lit 
tle in his sleep, the result of the strain on his mind. 
Physically he was not a giant, but he had remarkable 
power. He was not, however, as tough as he was vig 
orous ; his muscles were formidable, and yet he had 
delicacy of organization. His smile was winning and 
his ways persuasive. He had the amiabilities that be 
came a strong man. After our experience as room 
mates we did not meet for several years, and I have 
no recollection that we exchanged letters, but I heard 
of him through others." After six months of close 
study he returned to his profession and devoted him 
self to the practice with an assiduity and zeal that won 
new success and adequate reward. This was the pe 
riod in which he was best known as a lawyer. During 
the next few years he laid the foundation of a modest 
competence, the bulk of the moderate fortune which he 
left behind him having been acquired during these 
years of hard work. Between 1852 and 1860 nearly 
all of his time and energy were given to the law, with 
the exception of some digressions into politics to be 
noted hereafter. Events were now shaping themselves 
which were destined to change the whole course of his 
life and in a most remarkable manner develop the la 
tent forces of his character ; but before treating of these 
events in detail it will be proper to speak of Mr. Mor 
ton s politics and of the condition of political parties at 
that time. 



DURING the first ten years of his adult life Mr. Mor 
ton was a Democrat. The early traditions of that party 
exercised a peculiar power over the minds of ambitious 
young men, and the public conscience was not yet fully 
aroused as to its corrupt and dangerous tendencies. 
Mr. Morton was reared to believe in Democratic doc 
trines, and when he became a voter (1844) slavery was 
still generally regarded as a sacred institution, upon the 
protection of which depended the perpetuity of the 
Union. This idea had been so long inculcated by South 
ern Democrats, and so submissively accepted by those 
of the North, that it had become firmly imbedded in the 
politics of the country, and for any member of the 
party to question its justice or soundness was to court 
political excommunication. The dangerous and ag 
gressive character of slavery, asserting itself through 
the Democratic party, was but just beginning to be 
understood, and though a public sentiment was form 
ing which was destined to sweep them both out of ex 
istence, it was as yet unorganized and undefined. It 
was hardly respectable to be an antislavery man, and 
the term abolitionist was a badge of political disgrace 


The Democratic party had controlled the general gov 
ernment with but little interruption since the beginning 
of the century, and was never more autocratic or ap 
parently more powerful than during the administration 
of James K. Polk from 1844 to 1849. If it contained 
the seeds of dissolution they had not yet begun to ger 
minate. Mr. Morton s first vote was cast for Polk, and 
for nearly ten years after that he continued to act with 
the Democracy, but to his honor be it said he was among 
the first to discern the dangerous tendencies of his 
party and to rebel against the haughty dictation of the 
slave power. Without tracing the course of events 
during this period, it is enough to say that in 1854 the 
Democratic party repealed the Missouri Compromise 
and passed the Kansas-Nebraska bill. This crowning 
act of infamy at once betrayed the whole purpose of 
the slave power, and opened the way for those to leave 
the party who had already become convinced of its 
faithlessness and treachery. Among this number was 
Oliver P. Morton. Though he had up to this time 
been a Democrat in good standing, tolerating slavery as 
a necessary evil and as belonging to the traditional 
policy of his party, he had always been opposed to its 
extension. Therefore when slavery extension was made 
the touchstone of party fealty he was not slow in decid 
ing what course to pursue. He left the Democracy, and 
from that time forth acted with the friends of liberty 
and progress, who subsequently came together under 
the name of the Republican party. Mr. Morton has 
been charged with being a self-seeking politician. Surely 


there was nothing of this evinced in the time and man 
ner of his leaving the Democratic party. It was then 
in the full flush of its power, and to all appearances 
might be expected to control the government for many 
years to come. Indiana was a strong Democratic State. 
He was young, able, popular, and regarded on all hands 
as a rising man. There was hardly any position within 
the gift of his party in this State that he might not 
reasonably have hoped to attain in a very short time. 
Yet he chose to sacrifice these prospects for principle s 
sake, and to identify himself with a movement and a 
party which, so far as human foresight could judge at 
the time, had no earthly hope of success. Thus the 
first political act of his life of which we have any rec 
ord was based upon principle, and actuated by convic 
tion. For many years after this his former political 
associates were accustomed to charge him with incon 
sistency and a betrayal of his party because he failed 
to support its policy on the slavery question. It needs 
no argument now to refute this charge. The policy of 
the party in this regard was such that no Northern 
Democrat of principle or with a proper sense of man 
hood could indorse it. Mr. Morton was among the 
earliest in Indiana to repudiate it. His moral sense 
revolted against lending his influence or - vote to the 
extension of slavery, while his manhood rebelled against 
the servile submission to Southern dictation. In this 
situation he could do nothing but leave the party, and 
could go nowhere except into the new Republican or 
ganization. At this time the central idea of the Re pub- 


lican party was opposition to the extension of slavery. 
It was a party of resistance rather than of aggression. 
It did not advocate the abolition of slavery, although 
many individual members of the party were abolition 
ists. Several years elapsed before this policy came to 
be recognized as a political duty and part of the inevi 
table. Even as late as March, 1860, in a speech de 
livered at Terre Haute, Mr. Morton said : " I see that 
several of the Democratic newspapers have revived 
against me the cheap and worn-out allegation that I 

am an abolitionist If the persons making this 

charge know me to be an abolitionist they can undoubt 
edly state some political act or declaration of opinion 
on my part in proof. If they were asked what consti 
tutes an abolitionist they could answer, if they have 
any clear ideas on the subject, that he is one who is in 
favor of abolishing slavery where it now exists, and 
who claims that it is the right and duty of the State in 
which he lives, or of the general government, to per 
form the act. I am opposed to the diffusion of slavery. 
iam in favor of preserving the Territories to freedom, 
of encouraging, elevating, arid protecting free labor, at 
the same time conscientiously believing that with slav 
ery in the several States we have nothing to do and no 
right to interfere. If this makes an abolitionist then 
I am one, and my political enemies may make the most 
of it. The vague and senseless epithet has lost its 
terrors. A long, indiscriminate application of it by 
Democratic politicians to all who oppose them has 
stripped it of all title to consideration whatever." Thus, 


even as late as 1860, a leading Republican like Mr. 
Morton was rather restive under the epithet of aboli 
tionist. The fact is that opposition to the extension 
of slavery, not abolition of it, was the central idea of 
the Republican party during the early years of its ex 
istence. The Democratic party, under Providence, 
made the abolition of slavery necessary and possible. 
But we are somewhat anticipating the course of this 

Having made public avowal of his withdrawal from 
the Democracy, Mr. Morton soon became known as 
one of the most earnest advocates of a new party to 
embody the growing sentiment against the aggressions 
of the slave power. From 1854 to 1856 politics were 
in a curiously confused state. The Democratic party 
was undergoing a process of disintegration, while the 
Republican party was not yet formed. Thousands of 
men who had hitherto acted with the Democracy were 
unwilling to do so any longer, but were not yet quite 
ready to enlist under a new name and banner. Cau 
tious men hesitated and timid men feared to make ^, 
complete transfer of their political allegiance from an 
old and powerful organization to a new and untried one. 
Yet great principles and mighty motives were at work 
which were destined to triumph in the end. During 
these years of political uncertainty, marking one of the 
most interesting transitional periods in our history, 
Oliver P. Morton stood firm and unmoved, a tower of 
strength to those who rallied around him, and a recog 
nized leader of the future. He was a Republican in 


principle before the name was adopted, and was one of 
the god-fathers at the birth of the party. In 1856 he 
was one of three delegates sent from Indiana to the 
Pittsburg convention. From this convention the Re 
publican party dates the beginning of its political exist 
ence. It was held on the 22d of February, and was 
attended by leading Republicans from nearly all the 
Northern States, the object being to take steps towards 
a party organization. Its deliberations were interesting 
and important and were actively participated in by Mr. 
Morton, who was already recognized as one of the 
rising men of the new party. The convention made 
no nominations, but it led the way for the one at Phila 
delphia, held in June, 1856, which nominated John C. 
Fremont for president. 

May 1, 1856, the Republicans of Indiana met in con 
vention at Indianapolis to nominate candidates for_ state 
officers. We call it the Republican party now, though 
that name had not then been adopted. At that time it 
was called the People s party, and according to the call 
for the convention it embraced all who were opposed 
to the extension of slavery and in favor of establishing 
freedom in the Territories of the United States, without 
regard to previous party affiliations. The new party 
drew very largely from the better elements of society, 
and embraced nearly all of the friends of genuine lib 
erty and progress of that day. There was abundant 
reason for opposing the Democracy aside from the slav 
ery question, and all the opponents of that party found 
, natural abiding place in the new organization which 


entered the field so full of patriotic promise and hope. 
But opposition to the extension of slavery was the great 
underlying principle on which the People s party rested, 
the unifying motive which held it together. The con 
vention was large and earnest. The Hon. Henry S. 
Lane, then as now honored by the Republicans of In 
diana, was president, and inspired the body with his 
lofty enthusiasm. The new party was on trial, and 
every consideration required that it should nominate a 
strong ticket. When this stage of the proceedings was 
reached a delegate moved that Oliver P. Morton be 
nominated by acclamation for governor. The report in 
the "Journal " of the next day says: " The motion was 
received and carried amid deafening and long continued 
cheers." In a brief address accepting the nomination, 
Mr. Morton defined his position on the public questions 
of thje day, avowed his unalterable opposition to the ex 
tension of slavery, denounced the outrage of attempting 
to force the institution upon Kansas, and declared his 
intention of meeting his opponent before the people 
and upholding these principles in every part of Indiana. 
The " Journal " of the next day, referring to the party s 
candidate for governor, said : " In all that goes to make 
sound reasoner, a well-informed politician, a prudent 
statesman, an efficient executive, a trustworthy man, he 
is the full equal of a score of his opponent, and we 
appraise his opponent above his value in placing him so 
high." Mr. Morton accepted this nomination with a full 
consciousness that there was little or no chance of his 
election, and that he was expected to make a thorough 


canvass of the State. It would involve several months 
neglect of professional business, and considerable ex 
pense. He could not well afford either, but he had 
embarked in the new movement and his heart was in 
the cause. His opponent in the contest was Ashbel P. 
Willard, a very able man and one of the most brilliant 
speakers of his day. He represented an old, compact, 
powerful political organization, strengthened by the 
prestige of time and past successes, while Mr. Morton 
appeared as the champion of a new party, compara 
tively weak in numbers and organization, but strong in 
the consciousness of right principles. Willard was a 
sort of party pet, a fluent speaker, ready in debate, 
widely known throughout the State, and with an es 
tablished reputation as an orator. Morton was at that 
time comparatively unknown to the people of the State 
at large, and had his reputation as a political speaker 
to make. An arrangement for a joint canvass between 
the two candidates was gladly entered into by the 
Democrats, who thought their eloquent champion would 
easily dispose of his comparatively unknown antagonist. 
They were soon undeceived and the people of the State 
enlightened as to the character of the new Republican 

The canvass had not progressed far before he showed 
himself to be greatly the superior of Governor Willard 
in political information, force of argument, and all the 
essential elements of political oratory. Besides his 
joint canvass Mr. Morton filled a large number of 
separate appointments, making a thorough canvass of 


the entire State. Appearing then, for the first time, 
before the people at large, wherever he went he made 
a deep and lasting impression. His manner was dig 
nified and his style of speaking earnest, forcible, and 
convincing. He never appealed to men s passions, but 
always to their intellect and reason, and whether in 
attack or defense he proved himself a ready and power 
ful debater. From this campaign of 1856, unsuccess 
ful though it was, dated Mr. Morton s popularity with 
Republicans. From that time forward he was the rec 
ognized leader of the party in Indiana. The campaign 
ended, as he probably expected it would, in his defeat, 
but the foundations of the Republican party had been 
laid broad and deep in the minds of the people, and 
Mr. Morton himself had established a reputation for 
ability and courtesy in debate and for statesmanlike 
grasp of public questions which the whole subsequent 
course of his life strengthened and confirmed. As he 
had not sought the nomination for governor, so he ac 
cepted defeat gracefully and probably with less regret 
since he had the consciousness of having done his en 
tire duty by the party which had nominated him and 
by the principles he represented. At that time the Re 
publicans of Indiana considered his defeat as a great 
misfortune, but ill the light of subsequent history it 
cannot be so regarded. " There is a divinity which 
shapes our ends." If he had been elected governor 
in 1856 in all human probability he would not have 
succeeded to the position in 1860, and thus his splendid 
record as the great "War Governor" would have been 


lost, the whole course of his life changed, and the na 
tion as well as the State have been greatly the loser. 
Viewing the situation from our present stand-point it 
seems altogether probable that this would have been 
the case if Mr. Morton had been elected governor of 
Indiana in 1856. But he was defeated and reserved 
for another destiny. Thus Providence, which sees the 
end from the beginning, and which moulds great in 
struments for great emergencies, overrules the best laid 
plans of men and converts apparent defeats of the right 
into ultimate victories. 

After the unsuccessful campaign of 185 6 Mr. Morton 
resumed the practice of law with a zeal sharpened by 
absence from the profession and with powers certainly 
not weakened by his excursion into politics. For 
the next four years most of his time was devoted to 
the law, though his prominent identification with the 
Republican party did not admit of his wholly ignor 
ing politics. During this period he sought no honors 
from the party, although as opportunity offered he la 
bored energetically for its success. His advice was con 
stantly sought after in party affairs, and he had already 
come to be recognized as by far the best political or 
ganizer and director in the State. The Republican 
party grew very rapidly between 185G and 1860. The 
insolence and corruption of the Democracy, with their 
degrading subservience to the slave power, hastened 
the cours3 of events and contributed immensely to the 
growth of a sentiment which was destined to sweep 
them from power and change the course of national 


history. Thus, in 1860, the Republican party stood be- 
before the country with a complete organization, strong 
in the consciousness of a just cause, and prepared to 
dispute the field with the Democracy in every Northern 
State with fair prospects of success. In this year the 
Republicans of Indiana again demanded the services of 
Mr. Morton, nominating him for lieutenant-governor 
with Hon. Henry S. Lane for governor. The age and 
prestige of the latter were justly thought to entitle 
him to this honor, while at the same time there was a 
distinct understanding that if the party was successful 
Mr. Lane should go to the United States Senate and 
Mr. Morton become governor. Again, as in 1856, the 
latter threw aside private and professional business at 
the call of the party which he honestly believed rep 
resented the salvation of the country and prepared 
for another thorough canvass of the State. His splen 
did physical health at that time, his tireless energy and 
devotion to the cause, pointed to him as the principal 
worker in the campaign, and it is a matter of record 
that he did more work than any other person on the 
ticket. This time he was no stranger to the people. 
His services to the party had been matter of common 
remark during ,the last four years, and wherever he 
went he was greeted with enthusiasm. The campaign 
lasted four months, and he spoke in every part of the 
State, showing the same intuitive insight into politics 
and the same comprehensive grasp of public questions 
that had so impressed the people in 1856. At this 
time he was in the prime of life, thirty-seven years old. 


ill perfect health, full of energy and vigor, with a 
sound mind in a sound body, the very picture of well 
developed manhood. Commencing at Terre Haute he 
traversed the entire State, part of the time in company 
with his Democratic competitor, David Turpie, and 
part of the time alone. His meetings were very large 
and his labors were as effective as they were arduous. 
His first speech in this campaign, delivered at Terre 
Haute, March 18, 1860, was a masterly presentation 
of the political issues of the day and a complete sum 
ming up of the doctrines of the Republican party at 
that time. He began by exposing the fallacy of " Pop 
ular Sovereignty," a Democratic catchword invented 
by Stephen A. Douglas to cheat the people with, and 
he proved most conclusively that Congress and Con 
gress alone had constitutional power to make all needful 
rules and regulations for the Territories. . He then took 
ip the charge that the Republican party was a sectional 
party and showed that so far from this being the case 
it was the only truly national party, since it was or 
ganized in the interests of freedom and of the welfare 
of the whole country. He showed that instead of be 
ing a radical party it was the real conservative party of 
the nation. After defining the true standard of con 
servatism he said : " Measured by this standard the 
Democratic party will be found to be radical, revolu 
tionary, and subversive. Departing from its own 
creed, revolutionizing a long course of judicial decis 
ions, and subverting the practice of the government 
from the time of its creation, it has erected into an 


article of faith the new, dangerous, and portentous 
dogma that the Constitution by its own inherent power 
establishes slavery in all the Territories, and that there 
is no power in Congress nor in the people of the Ter 
ritories or, to use the language of Mr. Buchanan in 
his late message, that there is no human power that 
can exclude it therefrom." He traced the history of 
the agitation of the slavery question and showed where 
the responsibility rested for the growing hostility in 
the North against the institution. The policy of the 
Democratic party was shown to be tending towards 
disunion, while that of the Republican was in favor of 
national integrity and progress. Contrasting the two 
parties he said : 

" TLe Democratic party found the country at peace, and 
has left it stained with blood and torn with civil dissensions. 
It reopened the slavery question in a form most offensive, 
and under circumstances most aggravating to the anti- 
slavery sentiment of the North. It was the deliberate 
breach of a time-honored compromise which had had its 
origin in the most critical period of our political history, 
and had given peace to the nation. History will pronounce 
judgment on this repeal as a wanton and wicked act, with 
out a circumstance to palliate or excuse its perpetration, and 
as having its origin in the political necessities and reckless 
ambition of partisans. The object to be gained was the 
united favor of the South, and the means of obtaining it an 
extravagant and reckless devotion to her supposed inter 

Of the Republican party, then advancing so grandly 
to victory, he said : 


" It is a matter of proud congratulation that there is not 
one disunionist within the pale of the Republican party. 
There is no part of the Republican platform upon which a 
disunionist can stand .... We do not say that the Union 
may be preserved upon certain conditions; we do not meas 
ure our fidelity to it by our success; but we say it must 
and shall be preserved, whatever party may be in the as 
cendant. We do not say the Republican party first and the 
Union afterwards; but we say the Union first, last, and all 
the time, and that we will wage uncompromising warfare 
upon all parties that contemplate its destruction under any 

The speech was logical and argumentative and was 
at once a powerful arraignment of the Democracy and 
a triumphant defense of Republican principles. As in 
1856 Mr. Morton had shown himself more than a 
match in debate for Governor Willard, so in this can 
vass he easily handled his Democratic competitor wher 
ever they met in joint discussion. In a speech deliv 
ered at Fort Wayne before a large audience, he made 
the following strong argument against the Democratic 
doctrine of that day that the Constitution carried 
slavery into the Territories : 

" The fundamental principles underlying the Republican 
doctrine, the faith of the fathers, and the practice of the 
government for more than half a century, all go to show 
that slavery is local and municipal; that it can only exist by 
virtue of positive law ; that before it can exist in any State, 
Territory, or community there must be a law enacted author 
izing and creating it. In other words, that there is no gen 
eral principle of law enabling one man to hold another as a 
slave. The law of nations which recognizes the ri^ht of 

O O 

men everywhere to hold property in lands, in horses and in 


cattle, in gold and in silver, and in every species of inani 
mate goods, does not recognize the right of man to hold 
property in his fellow man. The common law which our 
ancestors brought with them to this country, and which 
forms the basis of the law of every State in the Union, save 
one, recognizes the right of men to hold property in all 
these things, but does not admit the right of man to hold 
property in man. There being then no general principle of 
law by which a slave can be held as property, it follows that 
the Territories are free because of the absence in them of 
any laAv authorizing slavery; and hence, before you can hold 
a slave in a Territory, there must be a law made for that 
purpose. The question then is, What power or tribunal can 
legislate for the Territories upon the subject of slavery? 
The Territories are the property of the general government, 
and the right to acquire them will not be disputed. If the 
government can acquire, can it not govern that which it 
acquires? Would the right to acquire, without the power 
to govern the thing acquired, be of any value? The right 
to govern is, therefore, an incident of the right to acquire. 
The Territories belong to all the people of the United States 
and not to any particular part of them. They belong to 
them in their corporate, national, and governmental capacity. 
This being the case, how shall the people, the nation, ex 
press themselves or make manifest their wishes respecting 
their property, these Territories, except through Congress? " 

This is close argument. With our present light it 
may sound rather antiquated, but this was seventeen 
years ago and we have made great progress since then. 
At that time a great and dominant party was straining 
every nerve to make slavery national, and among other 
dogmas which it had invented for this purpose was that 
the Constitution by its own force carried slavery into 


the Territories. This was one of the protean forms of 
Democratic error which the Republican party of that 
day had to combat. As a sample of Mr. Morton s di 
rect and forcible style of argument we will make one 
more extract from this Fort Wayne speech : 

" We believe that slavery is a moral, social, and political 
evil; that it is a curse to any people, a foe to progress, the 
enemy of education and intelligence, and an element of so 
cial and political weakness. For these reasons we are op 
posed to the further extension of slavery. But there are 
other considerations of a more personal and selfish charac 
ter. If Ave do not exclude slavery from the Territories, it 
will exclude us. Free labor will not go to any considerable 
extent where slave labor exists, because it is degraded 
and dishonored by the association. Hence, while there are 
thousands that come to Indiana, Ohio, and other free States 
from Kentucky, Virginia, and other slave States, there is 
hardly one for a thousand who goes hence to the slave 
States. Sometimes a Yankee tin peddler will marry a rich 
Southern widow with negroes, or a briefless lawyer from the 
North a wealthy Southern heiress, and straightway he be 
comes the most bitter and malignant of proslavery parti 
sans. But the fact is that the great body of emigration is 
from the slave to the free States. The introduction of 
slavery into a Territory prevents you and your children from 
going there as effectually as would a legislative act. It 
erects a barrier to your emigration which you will never sur 
mount. If you would, therefore, preserve these Territories 
as an inheritance to you and your children, to which you 
and they may retire when society here becomes too crowded, 
or the pressure of circumstances make a removal necessary, 
you must preserve them free. Free labor and slave labor 
will not flourish in the same bed. You cannot graft the one 
upon the stalk of the other. Where slave labor strikes its 


roots deep into the soil of a Territory, free labor will not 
grow but perish at the threshold. But it is said that the 
slave-holder has just as good a right to take his slaves to 
the Territory as you have to take your horses there from the 
State of Indiana, and that if he is prohibited from so doing 
it creates inequality. Let us consider this proposition a 
moment. Cannot the slave-holder go from Kentucky to 
Kansas and take with him every species of property which 
you can take from Indiana? And may he not pursue when 
he gets there, every avocation that you could, going from 
Indiana ? If so then you and he are on a perfect equality. 
But if he takes slaves he then takes what you cannot, and 
this creates inequality. Not only so; he takes what partic 
ularly excludes you from the Territory, and thus creates the 
grossest inequality. The truth is, there is no equality 
where there is not freedom, and slavery engenders inequal 
ity both socially and politically." 

The speech from which we have quoted was regarded 
at the time as a very able one. Besides the line of 
argument indicated above, it treated of the doctrine of 
non-intervention, of the Dred Scott decision, of Ste 
phen A. Douglas s tergiversations, of state issues, and, 
in short, covered the whole ground of an effective cam 
paign speech. It was reported phonographically and 
published not only by the Republican papers of Indiana 
but by those of many other States, showing that Mr. 
Morton was already regarded as a leading expounder 
of Republican principles. Such speeches as this, de 
livered in nearly every county of the State, had their 
effect. There were other workers in the good cause 
besides Mr. Morton, but perhaps not another one so 
earnest or effective. The election resulted in the 


success of the whole Republican ticket by about 10,000 
majority. A month later occurred the Presidential 
election, the Republicans carrying every Northern State 
and electing Abraham Lincoln by a decided majority 
of the electoral college. Immediately upon the con 
vening of the Legislature Governor Henry C. Lane 
was elected by the Republicans United States Senator, 
and on the 16th of January, 1861, Oliver P. Morton 
became Governor of Indiana. This office had in store 
for him such labors and responsibilities as rarely fall to 
the lot of any man, and, it may be added, was destined 
to bring him a corresponding amount of honorable 
fame. But before noticing in detail his great services 
to the State and nation in this capacity, it will be neces 
sary to recapitulate some of the events which preceded 
and accompanied his accession to the office, and glance 
at the political situation of that period. 



* HERETOFORE, as we have seen, Governor Morton s 
pursuits had been entirely of a peaceful character, 
mainly professional. He had established the reputation 
of a rising man at the bar and in politics, but as yet he 
had not developed any special aptitude for public affairs, 
or given any indication of the remarkable executive 
ability which was to stamp him as one of the great 
men of the age. It has been said that great emergen 
cies make great men. This is not strictly true. They 
may and often do call forth the greatness that is in 
men, but they cannot make great men out of small ones 
nor create that which did not exist before. The only 
sense in which opportunities make men is in furnish 
ing an occasion for the development or use of latent 
powers. It is possible that but for the war Oliver P. 
Morton s greatness of character might never have been 
so fully and grandly developed as it was ; but even 
without that he would have shone as a statesman and 
left a lasting impress on the history of the country. 

The election of Abraham Lincoln as president was 
a turning point in our history as a nation. The steady 
aggression of the slave power had culminated in the 


open avowal of a purpose to dissolve the Union in case 
of a Republican success in 18 GO. While using the cry 
of " sectionalism " against the Republican party, the 
Southern Democracy had themselves erected the sec 
tional standard by asserting that the government was 
nothing without slavery, and the Constitution worthless 
unless that institution was to be both protected and 
extended. Public sentiment, already debauched by a 
k>ng and systematic course of Democratic intrigue, was 
still further demoralized by the weakness and treachery 
of James Buchanan s administration, the most disastrous 
and despicable that has ever disgraced our history. 
Corruption was the rule, and honesty the exception. 
Patriots blushed with shame, and treason lifted its head 
without rebuke. The October elections in 1860 showed 
that the public conscience was at last aroused, and that 
the men of the North were moving. The election of 
Lincoln in November threw the Democracy into a 
frenzy of rage. Four months of Buchanan s adminis 
tration still remained in which to work their policy of 
rule or ruin, and they no longer attempted to conceal 
their purposes. Dissolution of the Union was the 
Southern .ultimatum peaceably if they could, forcibly 
if they must. The doctrine of secession was boldly 
avowed as a constitutional and Democratic remedy 
against a Republican triumph, and the idea of prevent 
ing or w coercing " a State from going out of the Union 
was hooted at by every Southern Democrat and a 
majority of those in the North. Meanwhile, a Demo 
cratic secretary of war was scattering the army and 


plundering the government arsenals, and other Demo 
cratic traitors were using their utmost efforts to under 
mine the government. Disunion meetings were being 
held in all parts of the South. Resolutions had already 
passed the South Carolina Legislature (November 12, 
1860) calling a convention with the distinct purpose of 
secession, and both of the United States Senators from 
that State had resigned their seats. And still, as yet, 
no one in all the great North had raised an authorita 
tive voice against this madness. There was patriotism 
and loyalty enough, but it was unorganized. The 
President elect was not yet authorized to speak. The 
Northern press was wavering and public opinion was 
at sea. The country was waiting for a leader. There 
was a mighty underlying sentiment in the North that 
the government should be preserved, that the Union 
should^not be broken up, but it lacked expression and 
leadership. Particularly was this the case in the 
border States of the North, where the poison of De 
mocracy had struck deepest and where the public mind 
was most confused in regard to the duty of the hour. 
Men were feeling after the right course, but at the 
same time they wanted some one to point the way. 
O. P. Morton was the man to do it. 

On the 22d of November, 1860, a Republican mass 
meeting was called in Indianapolis to ratify the election 
of Lincoln and to give expression to their views on the 
political situation. The meeting was held in the old 
court house, which, notwithstanding an inclement even 
ing, was crowded to its utmost capacity. The Governor 


and Lieutenant-governor elect were to speak. The 
speech of Governor Lane was rather conciliatory in 
tone. He alluded to the heroic deeds of the Kentuck- 
ians who came to Indiana at an early day to defend 
her pioneers from the tomahawk and seal ping-knife of 
the Indians, arid appealed to his hearers to cultivate a 
spirit of forbearance towards the misguided people of 
the Southern States, and if possible to avert bloodshed 
by compromise. At that time this was the sentiment 
of many wise and conservative men. The thought of 
civil war was horrible, and they could not yet bring 
themselves to contemplate it as a means of preserving 
the Union. Somewhat later Governor Lane was fully 
up with the spirit of the North, but at this time he was 
in favor of a conciliatory policy. But his words did 
not strike the popular chord at this meeting, in which it 
was evident there was a deep feeling in favor of main 
taining the Union at all hazards, even if it involved the 
dreadful alternative of war. Morton followed, and 
after a glowing eulogium upon the Union and the ad 
vantages and necessity of its preservation he declared 
that if the issue was disunion or war he, and as he be 
lieved the Republican party, was for war. The audi 
ence knew he was a strong and bold man and they ex 
pected strong and bold words ; but their hearts leaped 
with joy on hearing these sentiments, as the loyal heart 
of the country did the next day on reading the report 
of the speech. Then and there, for the first time by 
any leading man, was the duty of the government in 
the pending crisis clearly and boldly asserted. The 


doctrines of secession and coercion were examined in 
the light of the Constitution, and the right and duty of 
self-preservation shown to belong to the government. 
Stripping the subject of all disguises, the speaker struck 
straight at the heart of the question, and interpreted at 
once the popular conviction and the popular wish in 
that trying hour. The path of honor and of duty was 
shown to be the only path of safety. The pernicious 
doctrine of "peaceable secession," advocated by some 
well-meaning persons in the North, was traced to its 
ultimate consequences, and shown to be contrary to the 
Constitution and fatal to every principle of government. 
The grandeur and glory of the Union were set forth in 
eloquent words, and the power of the .government to 
" coerce " a seceding State was asserted in the strongest 
terms. In short, the patriotic sense of the loyal North 
in favor of preserving the Union was interpreted in a 
manner which no other public man had yet ventured to 
adopt. Morton rose to the height of the occasion. 
The policy of " coercion " had come to be a sort of 
bugbear to many persons : 

" What is coercion," said Mr. Morton, "but the enforce 
ment of the law. Is anything else intended or required? 
Secession or nullification can only be regarded by the gen 
eral government as individual action upon individual respon 
sibility. Those concerned in it cannot intrench themselves 
behind the forms of the state government so as to give their 
conduct the semblance of legality, and thus devolve the re 
sponsibility upon the state government, which of itself is 
irresponsible. The Constitution and laws of the United 
States operate upon individuals, but not upon States, and 


precisely as if there were no States. In this matter the 
President has no discretion. He has taken a solemn oath 
to enforce the laws and preserve order, and to this end he 
has been made commander-in-chief of the army and navy. 
How can he be absolved from responsibility thus devolved 
upoa him by the Constitution and his official oath? " 

He then showed that the Constitution provided no 
way for a State to get out of the Union, and that the 
only alternative for the President was to enforce the 
laws or acknowledge the independence of a seceding 
State, and he could only do that by authority of Con 
gress. The central thought of the speech was that the 
Union must be preserved, and, if need be, by force. 
Pursuing this line, Mr. Morton said : 

" The right of secession conceded, the nation is dissolved. 
Instead of having a nation, one mighty people, we have but 
a collection and combination of thirty-three independent and 
petty States, held together by a treaty which has hitherto 
been called a Constitution, of the infraction of which each 
State is to be the judge, and from which any State may with 
draw at pleasure The right of secession conceded 

and the way to do it having been shown to be safe and easy, 
the prestige of the republic gone, the national pride extin 
guished with the national idea, secession would become the 
remedy for every state or sectional grievance, real or imagin 
ary If South Carolina gets out of the Union, I trust 

it will be at the point of the bayonet, after our best efforts 
have failed to compel her to submission to the laws. Better 
concede her independence to force, to revolution, than to 
right and principle. Such a concession cannot be drawn 
into precedent and construed into an admission that we are 
but a combination of petty States, any one of which has a 
Tight to secede and set up for herself whenever it suits her 


temper or views of peculiar interest. Such a contest, let it 
terminate as it may, would be a declaration to the other 
States of the only terms upon which they would be permitted 

to withdraw from the Union Shall we now surrender 

the nation without a struggle, and let the Union go with 
merely a few hard words? If it was Avorth a bloody struggle 
to establish this nation, it is worth one to preserve it, and I 
trust that we shall not, by surrendering with indecent haste, 
publish to the world that the inheritance our fathers pur 
chased with their blood we have given up to save ours." 

Then, after pointing out the frightful consequences, 
the anarchy and ruin sure to follow a dissolution of the 
Union, he said : 

" We must, then, cling to the idea that we are a nation, 
one and indivisible, and that, although subdivided by state 
lines for local and domestic purposes, we are but one people, 
the citizens of a common country, having like institutions 
and manners, and possessing a common interest in that in 
heritance of glory so richly provided by our fathers. We 
must, therefore, do no act we must tolerate no act we 
must concede no idea or theory that looks to or involves the 

dismemberment of the nation Seven years is but a 

day in the life of a nation, and I would rather come out of a 
struggle at the end of that time, defeated in arms and con 
ceding independence to successful revolution, than to pur 
chase present peace by the concession of a principle that 
must inevitably explode this nation into small and dishon 
ored fragments The whole question is summed up 

in this proposition: Are we one nation, one people, or 
thirty-three nations, or thirty-three independent and petty 
States? The statement of the proposition furnishes the 
answer. If we are one nation then no State has a right to 
secede. Secession can only be the result of successful rev 
olution. I answer the question for you, and I know tha , 


my answer will find a true response in every true American 
heart, that we are one people, one nation, undivided and 

These sentiments were rapturously applauded, and 
when the speaker closed, the whole audience was in a 
state of patriotic excitement. The speech had a re 
markable effect. It was what the country had been 
waiting for, the voice of a leader able to comprehend 
the great issues involved, far-sighted enough to trace 
them to their legitimate results, and bold enough to 
assert the right and duty of the government to pro 
tect itself against secession and treason. It went to 
the popular heart like a bullet to its mark. Men read 
it, and said, " Here is the doctrine and the man." It 
dissipated the clouds of doubt and error as the sun 
scatters the morning mists. The public mind wavered 
no longer. From that day forth the idea of " peaceable 
secession " was dead and the policy of force was a fixed 
fact. The speech was published far and wide in the 
Republican papers, and everywhere admitted to be un 
answerable. The Southern leaders read in it an author 
itative expression of Northern opinion. A gentleman, 
who visited the President elect a short time afterwards, 
at Springfield, found Mr. Lincoln reading the speech, 
and the latter said : " It covers the whole ground, and 
declares the whole policy of the government. It is 
the policy I shall pursue from the first." Its echoes 
reached across the ocean, and it was regarded as of 
such political significance that the English authorities 
applied, through the English consul at Cincinnati, for 


a copy of it. It constituted a rallying point for public 
opinion throughout the North and gave an immense 
impulse to the development of loyal sentiment. It lifted 
Mr. Morton at once into national prominence and 
secured him universal recognition as one of the fore 
most men in the Republican party, a man for the times 
and a natural leader. This speech was the key-note of 
his subsequent career. 

On the 14th of January, 1861, he was duly qualified 
as lieutenant-governor, and on the same day took his 
seat as president of the Senate. He occupied this 
position but two days, for on the 16th Governor Lane 
was elected United States senator, and Lieutenant-gov 
ernor Morton became governor. 



FROM the day of his inauguration Governor Morton 
gave evidence of possessing extraordinary executive 
ability. He was eminently a man of affairs and took 
hold of the business of the office as one who knew 
there was work to do. With one exception he was at 
this time the youngest governor of any Northern State, 
but of all those who acted in that capacity during the 
eventful years of the war, none was surrounded with 
such difficulties as he, and none gave evidence of such 
immense fertility of resources. His first attention was 
turned toward reforming the civil administration of the 
State. In his brief inaugural address before the Gen 
eral Assembly he had said, " The financial affairs of 
our State are in great confusion and embarrassment. 
It will be among your first duties carefully to investi 
gate their condition, which having done, you will then 
be able to devise the necessary remedies, and apply 
them as far as may be in your power. The people of 
this State have been promised retrenchment and re 
form. That promise can and must be redeemed." He 
never lost sight of this purpose and promise, and in 
spite of the immense labors devolved upon him by the 


war he was able to accomplish wonders in the way of 
placing the finances of the State on a solid basis. Un 
der a succession of Democratic administrations the 
credit of the State had been seriously impaired, ita 
public lands stolen and its revenues squandered. Gov 
ernor Morton addressed himself to the practical refor 
mation of these abuses and with most gratifying results. 
I his services in this regard had not been so com 
pletely overshadowed by those in connection with the 
war, he would still be entitled to the lasting gratitude 
of every citizen of Indiana. The inauguration of 
measures looking to these civil reforms occupied the 
early months of his administration. 

Meanwhile the storm-cloud was gathering in the 
South. Several of the States had passed ordinances of 
secession. Peaceable expedients had been exhausted, 
and all attempts at compromise had failed. The South 
would have nothing but separation. The rebel sena 
tors and representatives had remained in Congress as 
long as they dared, and then, drawing their pay, had 
fled South. A congress of Southern States had been 
held at Montgomery, Alabama, early in February, 1861, 
at which a constitution for " The Confederate States 
of America " had been adopted, and a president and 
vice-president had been elected. In the North the 
condition of the public mind was marked by trepida 
tion, confusion, and uncertainty, but underlying all was 
a determined purpose to preserve the Union. Gov 
ernor Morton foresaw the coming storm and was one 
of the most active in preparing to meet it. In Indiana, 


especially in the southern portion of the State, there 
was strong opposition to a coercive policy on the part 
of the government, and many Democrats openly de 
clared that if this policy was adopted they would take 
up arms for the South. But Governor Morton did not 
waver nor falter. He was no friend of half-way meas 
ures. His voice was for the Constitution and the Union, 
and, if need be, for war to preserve them. Perceiving 
the danger of a dilatory policy he visited Washington 
shortly after the inauguration of President Lincoln, to 
advise vigorous action, and to assure the President of 
Indiana s support in such a policy. He felt sure of 
being able to rally the loyal sentiment of the State. 
At this period events followed each other in rapid suc 
cession a/nd culminated in the firing on Fort Sumter, 
and the surrender of that post to the rebels. This 
occurred on the 12th of April, 1861. On the 15th, 
President Lincoln issued his proclamation calling for 
75,000 men, and appealing "to all loyal citizens to 
favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the 
honor, the integrity and existence of our national 
Union, and the perpetuity of popular government, and 
to redress wrongs already long enough endured." On 
the morning of the very day this proclamation was 
issued, and before it was received in Indianapolis, Gov 
ernor Morton had telegraphed as follows : 



" INDIANAPOLIS, April 15, 1861. 

" President of the United States : 

" On behalf of the State of Indiana, I tender to you, for the 
defense of the nation and to uphold the authority of the 
government, ten thousand men. 


" Governor of Indiana." 

Thus Indiana, through her governor, was the first 
State to accept the gage of war and to proffer troops, 
as she was also one of the first to put her troops into 
the field. The State s quota under the call was six 
regiments, and on the next day Governor Morton issued 
a proclamation calling upon " the loyal and patriotic 
men of this State, to the number of six regiments, to 
organize themselves into military companies and forth 
with report to the Adjutant-general, in order that they 
may be speedily mustered into the service of the United 
States." The response to this proclamation was a 
splendid proof of the patriotism of Indiana s sons. 
The day after it was issued there were five hundred 
men in camp at Indianapolis, and the s^tate house had 
already begun to assume the appearance of. a military 
head-quarters. In less than seven days more than 
twelve thousand men, or nearly three times the quota 
required, had been tendered. Fearing that an attempt 
would be made by the rebels to take possession of the 
national capital, Governor Morton telegraphed to the 
Secretary of War on the 18th, offering to sent forward 
one regiment immediately if needed to protect the 


capital, but they were not called for. At this time 
there was less than $15,000 in the state treasury, and 
no available means of arming, subsisting, and equipping 
troops. Foreseeing the approach of hostilities, Gov 
ernor Morton had visited Washington about the middle 
of March for the purpose of procuring a supply of 
arms for state troops from the general government, 
but obtained little satisfaction. What few arms the 
State had, therefore, were practically worthless. It had 
no military law nor any military system. All had to 
be built from the ground up. No man ever met new and 
sudden responsibilities more nobly than Governor Mor 
ton did in this emergency, or showed greater executive 
ability and aptitude for affairs. On the 20th of April, 
four days after his call was issued, the organization 
of regiments began. Meanwhile the war spirit was 
rushing through the State like a whirlwind, and vol 
unteers continued to pour in. At this juncture, Gov 
ernor Morton, foreseeing that the government would 
need more men, telegraphed to the Secretary of War 
offering six additional regiments, without regard to 
length of service, and pledging his word to organize 
them in six days, if accepted. No response being re 
ceived to this proposition, telegraphic communication 
with Washington being interrupted, the Governor, on 
the 23d, sent a special messenger to Washington, re 
newing the offer, and expressing his determination at 
all events to put six additional regiments into camp 
and hold them subject to the demand of the govern 
ment. Thus, at the very threshold of the conflict, he 


showed an appreciation of its probable magnitude and 
an energy in preparing for it not evinced by the gov 
ernor of any other Northern State. Happily, his great 
popularity throughout the State, and the unbounded 
confidence which the people had already learned to 
feel in his judgment and patriotism, enabled him to 
fulfill to the letter every pledge or promise ever made 
to the government or to the troops themselves. Not 
withstanding the haste with which these troops were 
mobilized they were better armed and equipped than 
any other troops from the West, and the completeness 
of their outfit excited great admiration as they passed 
through Cincinnati and other cities on their way to 
West Virginia. The promptness and ability thus dis 
played by Governor Morton at the very beginning of 
the war were generally commented upon and held up 
as an example for the governors of other States to 

The first call, of which Indiana s quota was six 
regiments, was for three months. In anticipation of a 
second call, Governor Morton had organized five addi 
tional regiments of twelve months volunteers, which, 
by an act of the Legislature, were to remain under his 
control until needed by the government. The call 
came May 16, 1861. It was for forty-two thousand 
three years men, and Indiana s quota was four regi 
ments. Governor Morton was prepared for this call 
in advance, the regiments being already organized, 
equipped, and partially drilled. Thus his foresight in 
organizing these regiments proved of great value to the 


country, and enabled him to respond upon the instant 
to the President s second call without going through 
the formality and delay of another appeal to the people. 
And so it was all the time. He either anticipated every 
call for troops, or had matters in such a state of prepa 
ration that no time was lost in responding. Before the 
term of the three months men expired, and while they 
were still in the field, he sent special messengers to 
urge the*m to reenlist for three years or for the war. 
He represented to them that the war was sure to last 
during several campaigns, that the government would 
need more men when the terms of those now in the 
service should expire, and that Indiana would certainly 
be called upon for further aid. The result was that 
these regiments reenlisted almost in a body, and were 
reorganized in time to respond with others to the third 
call for troops, which was issued August 4, 1862. This 
call was for 300,000 men for nine months ; the fourth 
call, issued June 15, 1863, was for 100,000 men for six 
months ; the fifth call, October 17, 1863, was for 300,000 
men for three years; the sixth call, July 18, 1864, was 
for 500,000 men for one, two, or three years; the 
seventh and last call, December 19, 1864, was for 
300,000 men for one, two, or three years. Under these 
various calls Indiana furnished an aggregate of 208,367 
men, of whom all but about 17,000 were volunteers. 
Every call was met promptly and fully, no deficiencies 
being left to be filled on subsequent calls, and the ex 
cess, after the quotas had been filled, varying from two 
thousand to thirty thousand. This record is a splendid 


and perpetual proof of the patriotism of the people of 
Indiana, and reflects imperishable honor on the name 
of Oliver P. Morton, to whose personal ability and ex 
ertions these great results were so largely due. 

There was great uneasiness along the border lest the 
State should be invaded by rebel bands known to be 
organizing in Kentucky, and the whole situation was so 
grave that on the 19th of April Governor Morton is 
sued a call for a special session of the Legislature to 
convene at the capital on the 24th. His message to the 
General Assembly, delivered on this occasion, is so valu 
able, both as a historical outline of the causes of the 
rebellion and a presentation of his views of the situation, 
that we give it in full : 

" Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives: 
You have been summoned together under circumstances of 
the most grave and important character. Our country is 
placed in a condition hitherto unknown in her history and 
one which all patriots and lovers of liberty throughout the 
world had fondly hoped would never occur. Civil war, that 
has ever been the bane of republics, has been inaugurated 
by certain rebellious States which, unmindful of their con 
stitutional obligations, and regarding not our common his 
tory, blood, interests, and institutions, are seeking to dis 
member the nation and overthrow the federal government, 
so wisely and, as we had believed, permanently established 
by our fathers. The origin of this most wicked rebellion 
dates back more than thirty years. It is well known that 
distinguished Southern statesmen, as early as 1829, cher 
ished the dream of a vast Southern slave-holding confeder 
acy, comprehending the conquest of Cuba, Mexico, and 
Central America. The determination was then formed to 


break our republic into pieces by any available pretext. 
The first one seized upon by South Carolina was the tariff 
question ; and had not the nation had for its executive a 
man greatly distinguished for patriotism, courage, and decis 
ion of character, widespreading and disastrous consequences 
might have followed. By prompt and energetic action the 
rebellion was crushed out for the time, to be revived, as 
subsequent events have shown, on new pretenses and in an 
other form. 

" The election of a president of the United States through 
the forms of the Constitution, entertaining opinions obnox 
ious to certain States of the confederacy, is boldly pub 
lished to the world as a just cause for the dissolution of the 
Union, and bringing on, if necessary for that purpose, all the 
horrors of a bloody revolution. It would be an insult to your 
intelligence to argue that the admission of this pretense as a 
justification would be clearly fatal to all republican govern 
ment ; that popular institutions can only be sustained by 
submission to the will of the people as expressed through the 
forms of the Constitution, trusting to the peaceful remedy of 
the ballot-box for the redress of grievances. And the wick 
edness of this pretense is greatly aggravated by the reflec 
tion that it is utterly hypocritical, that it was only put forth 
in furtherance of schemes entertained for years, and sup 
ported by notoriously false assumptions of fact and logic. 
When we read the history of the late Democratic Convention 
at Charleston by the light of subsequent events, can we fail 
to see that the scheme of secession and dismemberment of 
the republic was then completely formed, and that the dis 
ruption of that convention was one of the steps towards its 
consummation? If confirmation of this opinion were needed, 
it will be found in the fact that certain traitorous members 
of Mr. Buchanan s cabinet were systematically engaged, for 
many months before the late presidential election, in placing 
the arms and defenses of the nation in a position to be 
readily seized by the seceding States. 


" Secession was at first argued as a right springing tvmii the 
Constitution, but as the movement gained strength this flimsy 
pretext was abandoned, and what in an hour of weakness 
was claimed by feeble argument, is now boldly asserted by 
military power. The North, conscious of her strength and 
the rectitude of her intentions, has hitherto remained quiet, 
making no preparation whatever for a conflict of arms. Her 
forbearance has been construed into cowardice, and her ef 
forts to keep the peace have but provoked increased inso 
lence and aggression. The secession movement has, from 
the beginning, been an act of war. Ordinances of secession 
have been immediately followed, and sometimes preceded, by 
the violent seizure and plunder of national property, and the 
forcible expulsion of the agents and officers of the federal 
government. From the very first, and at every step in its 
progress, it has been distinguished by acts of hostility and 
outrage, alike injurious to the nation and insulting to the 
people of the loyal States. 

" The secessionists were profoundly convinced that the co 
operation of the border slave States could not be procured 
without a conflict of arms between them and the federal 
government, and hence have labored assiduously to place 
the government in a position that a collision could not be 
avoided, except by the most abject submission and humilia 
tion. The intention to force a conflict has been most appar 
ent, and delay was suffered only that they might complete 
their preparations ; and when at last their preparations were 
complete, and wearied by the long forbearance of the gov 
ernment, they inaugurated hostilities by assaulting and 
reducing Fort Sumter. 

" The place where Fort Sumter is situated had been regu 
larly ceded by the State of South Carolina to the federal 
government, and, by an express provision of the Constitution, 
was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. 
It was unfinished and held by a garrison of less than one 


hundred men, and while in this condition was invested by a 
large army, cutting off all approach to it by sea or land. 
The stock of provisions was almost exhausted, and the im 
mediate prospect was presented to the feeble garrison of 
starvation, or yielding up into the hands of an avowed 
enemy a fortress of the United States. At this juncture, 
the federal government, which had waited long, perhaps too 
long, declared its determination to send provisions to the 
garrison. Before this attempt could be made, and before 
a single sail of the fleet was seen off the harbor, a powerful 
cannonade was opened upon Sumter which resulted in its 
destruction and surrender. 

" Every day brings us intelligence of new outrage and as 
sault. Throughout the rebellious States is heard the note of 
preparation for an extensive and aggressive campaign. The 
national capital is menaced, and every avenue of approach 
for federal troops and provisions is attempted to be cut off. 
The free navigation of the Mississippi River, the great artery 
of commerce of the Northwest, is obstructed; and the usurp 
ing government of the rebellious States has issued a procla 
mation inviting the freebooters of all the world to prey upon 
our national commerce. 

" We have passed from the field of argument to the solemn 
fact of war which exists by the act of the seceding States. 
The issue is forced upon us, and must be accepted. Every 
man must take his position upon the one side or upon the other. 
In time of war there is no ground upon which a third party 
can stand. It is the imperative duty of all men to rally to 
the support of the government, and to expend in its behalf, 
if need be, their fortunes and their blood. Upon the pres 
ervation of this government depends our prosperity and 
greatness as a nation; our liberty and happiness as individ 
uals. We should approach the contest, not as politicians, 
nor as ambitious partisans, but as patriots, who cast aside 
every selfish consideration when danger threatens their 


country. The voice of party should be hushed, and the 
bitterness that may have sprung out of political contests be 
at once forgiven and forgotten. Let us rise above these 
paltry considerations, and inaugurate the era when there 
shall be but one party and that for our country. The strug 
gle is one into which we enter with the deepest reluctance. 
We are bound to the people of the seceding States by the 
dearest ties of blood and institutions. They are our brothers 
and our fellow countrymen. But if they regard not these 
tender relations, how can we? If they wage war upon us 
and put themselves in the attitude of public enemies, they 
must assume all the responsibility incident to that position. 
But while I deplore deeply the character of the contest in 
which we are engaged, nevertheless we should meet it as 

" To our sister State of Kentucky we turn with hope and 
affection. She has grown rich and prosperous in the 
republic; could she do more if she were out of it? It 
would be a sad day which should sever the bonds which 
bind these States together, and place us in separate and 
hostile nations. I appeal to her by the ties of our common 
kindred and history, by our community of interest, by the 
sacred obligations that bind us to maintain the Constitution 
inviolate, to adhere to the Union and stand fast by that flag 
in defense of which she has so often shed her best blood. I 
pray her to examine her past history and perceive how the tide 
of her prosperity has flowed on unbroken and ever increas 
ing, until her limits are filled with material wealth and her 
people are respected, elevated, and happy ; and then inquire 
if all this is not the result of that Union she is called upon 
to break, and of that government she is invited to dishonor 
and overthrow. To ask Kentucky to secede is to ask her to 
commit foul dishonor and suicide. I trust that the good 
sense and patriotism of her people will not suffer her to be 
dragged by the current of events, which has been cunningly 


invented for that purpose, into the vortex of disunion ; nor 
permit her to be artfully inveigled into an armed neutrality 
between the rebellious States and the federal government. 
Such a position would be anomalous and fatal to the peace 
and perpetuity of the Union. There is no ground in the 
Constitution midway between a rebellious State and the 
federal government upon which she can stand, holding both 
in check and restraining the government from the enforce 
ment of the laws and the exercise of its constituted author 
ity. Such an attitude is at once unconstitutional and hostile. 
At a time like this, if she is not for the government, aiding 
and maintaining it by the observance of all her constitutional 
obligations, she is against it. If the voice of her people can 
be heard, I fear not the result. Secession can only triumph, 
as it has triumphed in other States, by stifling the voice of 
the people and by the bold usurpation, by demagogues and 
traitors, of the powers which rightfully belong to them alone. 
And I might here remark, it is quite manifest that the 
schemes of the authors and managers of the rebellion extend 
far beyond the dissolution of the Union, and embrace the 
destruction of the democratic principle of government, and 
the substitution of an aristocracy in its stead. In the se 
ceding States the control of public affairs has been with 
drawn substantially from the people, and every proposition 
to submit to their consideration measures of the most vital 
importance has been contemptuously overruled, and we are 
in truth called upon to fight, not only for the Union, but for 
the principle upon which our state and national governments 
are founded. 

" If the rebellious States hope to profit by dissensions in the 
North, they have erred egregiously, and have wholly failed 
to comprehend our people. Our divisions were merely po 
litical and not fundamental, and party lines faded instantly 
from sight when the intelligence went abroad that war was 
being waged against the nation. When the sound of the 


first gun reverberated through the land the people of the 
North arose as one man, and declared that the government 
must be sustained and the honor of our flag preserved invio 
late at whatever cost. The events of the last ten days are 
pregnant with instruction and moral grandeur. They pre 
sent the action of a people who have suffered much and 
waited long; who were slow to take offense and incredulous 
of treason and danger ; but who, when the dread appeal to 
arms was made and the issue could no longer be avoided 
with honor or safety, promptly abandoned the peaceful pur 
suits of life and devoted themselves to the service of their 
country. I trust that the force of this lesson may not be 
lost upon our erring brethren of the South, and that they 
will at once perceive they have inaugurated a contest from 
which they cannot emerge with honor and profit. 

" On the fifteenth day of the present month the President 
of the United States issued his proclamation calling upon the 
loyal States to furnish 75,000 men for the protection of the 
government, the suppression of rebellion, and the enforce 
ment of the laws. Subsequently the quota to be furnished 
by Indiana was fixed at six regiments, of seven hundred and 
seventy men each. In obedience to this call I issued my 
proclamation calling for volunteers, and in less than eight 
days more than 12,000 men have. tendered their services, 
and the contest among the companies has been earnest and 
exciting as to which shall secure a place within the quota. 
This response has been most gratifying and extraordinary, 
and furnishes indubitable evidence of the patriotism of In 
diana, and her entire devotion to the Union. Without dis 
tinction of party, condition, or occupation, men have rallied 
around the national standard, and in every part of the State 
may be heard the sound of martial music and witnessed the 
mustering of companies into the field. In view of this re 
markable response made to the proclamation, on the 20th 
instant I tendered to the President, for the service of the 


United States, six additional regiments ; but telegraphic and 
postal communication having been cut off with Washington, 
no answer has been received up to this time. A camp was 
formed in the neighborhood of this city for the reception of 
the troops, and Major Wood, of the United States army, 
has been busily engaged for several days in mustering them 

into the service. There are in camp companies, being 

an excess of the number called for by the President, and in 
addition to that, every company largely exceeds, and in 
some instances more than doubles the number that can be 
finally received into the company. Some companies came 
by mistakes unavoidably occurring in the office of the Adju 
tant-general, and others without marching orders. They 
will be retained in camp, and provided with quarters and 
subsistence, awaiting the action of the Legislature. I can 
not refrain from here expressing the opinion that has been 
uttered by many who have visited the camp, that finer ma 
terial for a gallant army was never assembled. 

" The report of the Adjutant-general, Lewis Wallace, is 
herewith transmitted, and I beg leave in this manner to ten 
der him my hearty thanks for his able and efficient services 
in that department. 

" In view of all the facts, it becomes the imperative duty of 
Indiana to make suitable preparations for the contest by pro 
viding ample supplies of men and money to insure the pro 
tection of the state and general government in the prosecu 
tion of the war to a speedy and successful termination. I 
therefore recommend that one million of dollars be appro 
priated for the purchase of arms and munitions of war, and 
for the organization of such portion of the militia as may be 
deemed necessary for the emergency. That a militia sys 
tem be devised and enacted looking chiefly to volunteers, 
which shall insure the greatest protection to the State, and 
unity and efficiency of the force to be employed. That a 
law be enacted suspending the collection of debts against 


those who may be actually employed in the military service 
of the State or the United States. That suitable provision 
be made by the issue of the bonds of the State or otherwise 
for raising the money herein recommended to be appropri 
ated, and that all necessary and proper legislation be had to 
protect the business, property, and citizens of the State un 
der the circumstances in which they are placed. 

" O. P. MORTON, Governor." 

The General Assembly responded with alacrity to 
these patriotic sentiments, enacting all the legislation 
recommended by the Governor, and in every way show 
ing its perfect confidence in his judgment and patriot 
ism. At this time, as indeed during the whole period 
of the war, the Governor performed an incredible 
amount of work. It would be impossible, within the 
limits of a sketch like this, to narrate in detail his vast 
and multifarious labors. Pie seemed to be ubiquitous, 
now in Washington, now at home, counseling with the 
President, encouraging the people, organizing regi 
ments, hurrying troops to the front, looking after those 
already in the field, negotiating loans, organizing sani 
tary commissions, forwarding stores in short, per 
forming the labor of a dozen men, and infusing his 
spirit into all with whom he came iri contact. From 
the beginning he comprehended almost better than any 
other man the full scope of the rebellion and the mag 
nitude of the work of suppressing it. He was for 
prompt and thorough measures, and was largely suc 
cessful in inspiring others with his own earnestness. In 
one instance, however, he failed. This was in the case 


of General George B. McClellan, the first commander 
of the Union forces in the West. On the 7th of May, 
1861, Governor Dennison of Ohio telegraphed to Wash 
ington asking that the boundaries of McClellan s de 
partment should be extended so as to include Western 
Virginia. This was done. Then the Governor wrote 
to McClellan setting forth the necessities of the case 
and urging the immediate crossing of the Ohio River 
and occupation of Western Virginia. General Mc 
Clellan replied : " I have carefully considered your 
letter of the 10th. Strange as the advice may seem 
from a young general, I advise delay for the present. 

I fear nothing from Western Virginia Don t let 

these frontier men hurry you on. I am pressed by 
Yates, Morton, etc. The latter is a terrible alarmist 
and not at all a cool head." Thus early in the war 
this celebrated general of inaction commenced advising 
" delay " and characterizing such men as Oliver P. 
Morton as alarmists. The difference between them 
was, that Morton was in favor of putting down the re 
bellion and of hurting rebels, while McClellan was not. 
The troops hurried to the front by Governor Mor 
ton in response to the President s first call were or 
ganized, fed, clothed, and equipped by him without as 
sistance from the national government. They fired the 
first shots in the war and were mainly instrumental in 
winning the earliest victories in Western Virginia. 
Thus, at the very commencement of hostilities, he began 
to exhibit those preeminent qualities which, intensely 
exercised during the following years, were to win for 
nim the proud title of Indiana s great War Governor. 



AT the beginning of the war the attitude of Ken 
tucky was a source of alarm along the border, and of 
apprehension with all. In his message to the special 
session of the General Assembly, quoted in the preced 
ing pages, Governor Morton made an eloquent appeal 
to the people of Kentucky to remain true to the Union. 
Whatever approval this may have excited in the hearts 
of loyal men, it met with no sympathy from those who 
were bent on taking Kentucky out of the Union. Her 
governor, Beriah Magoffin, a rebel at heart, had re 
fused, with insult, the call of the President for troops. 
A leading newspaper of the State had declared its 
" mingled amazement and indignation " at the audacity 
of such a call, and called on the people to take the 
President and his administration " into their own 
hands." Though Governor Magomn could not carry 
Kentucky out of the Union, he succeeded for a time in 
preventing her from doing her duty as a part of it 
and in bringing odium upon her name by his senseless 
prate about "armed neutrality." One of the transparent 
tricks by which he attempted to conceal his disloyalty 
tfas a pretended scheme to unite the governors of the 


border States, himself included, in a neutral combina 
tion " to preserve peace between the border States " 
and act as " mediators between the contending parties." 
On the 25th of April, 1861, he sent to Governor Mor 
ton this dispatch : " Will you cooperate with me in a 
proposition to the government at Washington for peace 
by the border States as mediators between the contend 
ing parties ? " Governor Morton replied at once : " I 
will unite in any effort for the restoration of the Union 
and peace which shall be constitutional and honorable 
to Indiana and the federal government." The next 
day Magoffin sent another dispatch, stating that he had 
informed Governor Dennison of Ohio that " he would 
meet that gentleman at Cincinnati the following Tues 
day evening," and requesting Governor Morton to meet 
them there. Governor Morton replied at once that he 
would, and that he expected Governor Magoffin to be 
there " in person." He went to Cincinnati at the ap 
pointed time, but Magoffin, though expressly notified 
to be present " in person," did not appear. He prob 
ably never intended to. An interview, such as Gov 
ernor Morton desired, would have been quite sure to 
expose his duplicity, and he knew it, consequently he 
sent Colonel Thomas L. Crittenden in his place, who 
gave Governor Morton the following letter on the 
30th : 

"DEAR SIR : I have been instructed by the Hon. B. 
Magoffin, governor of the State of Kentucky, to solicit the 
cooperation of yourself and the Hon. William Dennison, gov 
ernor of the State of Ohio, in an effort to bring about 
* truce between the general government and the seceded 


States until the meeting of Congress in extraordinary session, 
in the hope that the action of that body may point out the 
way to a peaceful solution of our national troubles." 

The next day Governor Morton replied as follows : 

"INDIANAPOLIS, May 1, 1861. 

" DEAR SIR, In reply to the note of Colonel T. L. Crit- 
tenden, of yesterday s date, informing me that he had been 
instructed by you to solicit the cooperation of Governor 
Dennison and myself, in an effort to bring about a truce 
between the general government and the seceded States 
until the meeting of Congress in extraordinary session, it 
becomes my duty to state that I do not recognize the right 
of any State to act as a mediator between the federal gov 
ernment and a rebellious State. I hold that Indiana and 
Kentucky are but integral parts of the nation, and as such 
are subject to the government of the United States, and 
bound to obey the requisitions of the President, issued in pur 
suance of his constitutional authority; that it is the duty of 
every state government to prohibit, by all means in its power, 
the transportation from within its own limits of arms, mili 
tary stores, and provisions to any State in open rebellion 
and hostility to the government of the United States, 
and to restrain her citizens from all acts giving aid and 
comfort to the enemy ; that there is no ground in the Con 
stitution midway between the government and a rebel 
lious State, upon which another State can stand, hold 
ing both in check; that a State must take her stand 
upon the one side or the other ; and I invoke the State 
of Kentucky by all the sacred ties that bind us together, 
to take her stand with Indiana promptly and efficiently 
on the side of the Union, the action of the federal govern 
ment in the present contest being strictly in accordance 


with the Constitution and the law of the land ; and en 
tertaining the views above indicated, I am compelled to 
decline the cooperation solicited by you. I take this oc 
casion to renew the expression of my earnest desire that 
Kentucky may remain in the Union, and that the intimate 
political, social, and commercial relations which exist between 
her and Indiana may never be disturbed, but be cemented 
and strengthened through all coming years. 
u Very respectfully, 

" O. P. MORTON, Governor of Indiana. 
" To HON. B. MAGOFFIN, Governor of Kentucky." 

Two days after the appointed time Magoffin went 
to Cincinnati, but both of the loyal governors had 
left before he arrived, as he probably intended they 
should, and the meeting never took place. The whole 
scheme was doubtless part of Magoffin s plan to cover 
up his disloyal purposes. 

Early in May, Governor Morton, in conjunction with 
the governors of Ohio and Illinois (who were then at 
Indianapolis), united in a memorial to the President, 
urging the government " at an early day to take pos 
session in force of prominent points in Kentucky, such 
as Louisville, Covington, Newport, etc. % and the rail 
roads leading from them to the South." For this 
work they recommended that loyal Kentuckians should 
be used if they could be found, and they added : 

" If Kentuckians cannot be found, United States regulars 
would be the next best for the purpose; but in our judgment 
they should be occupied at an early day, if it has to be done 
by the volunteer forces from adjoining States. We believe 
this course will save Kentucky to the Union, otherwise that 
in the end the secessionists will control her." 


But the government was slow to move, and " Ken 
tucky neutrality " was treated very tenderly. In June, 
1861, the gallant and loyal Rousseau determined to 
raise a force of Kentucky Unionists, and received 
authority from the President to that end. At a public 
meeting, however, held in Louisville, it was decided 
that the encampment ought not to be in Kentucky, and 
Rousseau was accordingly invited to estabMsh his camp 
and rendezvous at Jeffersonville, Indiana. Thus In 
diana furnished the first rallying-point for the Ken 
tucky Unionists. At this time Governor Morton was 
in constant communication with General Rousseau and 
other loyal Kentuckians, encouraging and aiding them 
by every means in his power. He gave permission to 
citizens of Indiana to enlist in Kentucky regiments, 
and allowed a company of cavalry in Knox County and 
one in Dearborn County to be recruited for a Kentucky 
regiment. He also exerted himself to procure arms 
for the Kentucky troops who, having no governor to 
look after their wants, had to rely on Governor Morton 
for this and numberless other services. Meanwhile, 
events followed each other rapidly, and "Kentucky 
neutrality " was swept out of sight. The new Legisla 
ture having by a large majority decided to remain in 
the Union, the rebels determined to invade the State, 
and in September General Zollicoffer entered it in 
force. This movement created widespread alarm in 
Kentucky. On the 2d of October, 1861, Governor 
Morton issued a proclamation to the people of Indiana, 
in which, after reciting the invasion of Kentucky, he 
Baid : 


" These rebel troops have entered the State from the 
southeast through the Cumberland Gap; also, from the 
southwest, occupying Columbus and other points, but chiefly 
from the direction of Nashville, toward Louisville, seizing 
and holding the Nashville and Louisville road, up to within 
forty miles of Louisville. A glance at the map will show 
the immense importance of their position, and the advan 
tages they have gained. From their camps south of Louis 
ville they can communicate, by railroad, with every seceding 
State but two; and can thus transport to their aid, in a few 
hours, men and munitions of war from every part of the 
South. It is the determination of the invaders and con 
spirators to subjugate the loyal people of Kentucky, and 
seize for plunder and vengeance the wealthy and populous 
cities on the border of Ohio and Indiana. 

" It should require no argument or appeal now to arouse 
the people of Indiana to put forth all their strength. When 
our State was in her infancy, the brave men of Kentucky 
came to the rescue of our people from the scalping-knife of 
the savage, and their blood is mingled with our soil on many 
a field. And shall we not stand by Kentucky now, in this, 
her hour of peril? Not to do so were base ingratitude and 
criminal folly. We can best defend Indiana by repelling 
the invader from Kentucky, and carry the war thence to the 
hearts of the rebellious States 

u I, therefore, call upon all men capable of bearing arms, 
and who can leave their homes, to cast aside their ordinary 
pursuits and enroll themselves in the ranks of the army. 
Let the farmer leave his plow, the merchant his store, the 
mechanic his workshop, the banker his exchange, and the 
professional man his office, and devote themselves to their 
country, and by enrolling themselves either in the armies of 
the general government or under the military law of the 
State, be prepared to defend their country and their homes. 
Every man in the State capable of bearing arms should be 
in the service of the general government or the State. 


Let personal ease and private interests submit to the over 
ruling necessities of the hour, and let us show the world, by 
the sacrifices we are willing to make in person and property, 
that we are worthy of our sires, and deserve to retain the 
inheritance they have bequeathed to us." 

At this time Indiana s quota was already more than 
full, but this appeal gave a new impulse to volunteer 
ing and resulted in large accessions to the Union forces. 
The troops now recruited were speedily organized, 
equipped, and sent into Kentucky, some of them joining 
Buell s command south of Louisville, and others going 
to meet Zollicoffer in the southeast. Without tracing 
in detail the movements that followed, it is enough to 
say that they ended in completely breaking the rebel 
power in Kentucky, and driving them from the State. 
Governor Morton s energy in this emergency was uni 
versally recognized as "of immense value to Kentucky 
and the Union cause. 

One of the most remarkable instances of Governor 
Morton s readiness in every emergency, and of his great 
service to Kentucky, was on the occasion of General 
Kirby Smith s raid into that State in August, 1862. 
In response to the call of the government for troops 
to defend Washington, Indiana, through Governor Mor 
ton, had responded so nobly as to elicit from Secretary 
Stanton the laconic dispatch to the Governor, " Well 
done, Indiana." The third call for troops (300,000 
more) had just been issued, and Governor Morton had 
telegraphed to the Secretary of War, August 9th, that 
* Indiana s quota of 21,200 men would be raised in 


twenty days." On the 8th of August, Major-general 
Buell telegraphed to Governor Morton from Hunts- 
ville, Alabama, that " a formidable raid threatened 
Kentucky," and urged that u troops be at once sent to 
General Boyle." In this emergency the Unionists of 
Kentucky and the officers in command there looked to 
Governor Morton as their main stay. August 10th, 
General Boyle telegraphed him that the rebels were 
invading Kentucky, and begged him to send any forces 
he could possibly spare. On the llth he sent seven 
companies, fully armed and equipped, to Frankfort. 
On the same day, in compliance with General Boyle s 
requisition, he sent two car-loads of ammunition to 
Frankfort from the Indiana arsenal. 

On the 12th General Buell telegraphed from Hunts- 
vine that " Morgan had crossed the Cumberland," and 
urged " that the governors of Indiana and Ohio be 
called upon for troops at once." Before night the 
telegraphic communication between Indianapolis and 
Louisville was broken for forty miles, but the Seven 
tieth Indiana had already marched, and was at Bowling 
Green the evening of the 14th. On the 16th and 17th 
two regiments were sent ; these, with the troops before 
dispatched, being the first troops sent to the aid of 
Kentucky from any quarter. 

On Sunday, the 17th, late at night, Governor Mor 
ton received a telegram that " the rebels had invaded 
that State at several points, had captured Somerset, 
and were marching upon Glasgow, Bowling Green, and 
other points." The same day all communication was 


cut off with General Buell, and the fact became evident 
that an invasion of Kentucky was intended. On Mon 
day, the 18th, Colonel Carrington, Eighteenth United 
States Infantry, reported to Governor Morton, as chief 
mustering officer of the State. Before night the 
Seventy-first Regiment was mustered into the service, 
armed. During the night of the 18th, though stormy, 
the Twelfth, Sixteenth, Sixty-eighth, and Sixty-ninth 
Regiments were addressed by the Governor, and all 
responded with enthusiasm and promptness. On the 
morning of the 19th of August patriotic citizens and 
bankers advanced funds on account of the United 
States, in all nearly half a million of dollars, and the 
Twelfth and Sixteenth were mustered and paid during 
the day, and the Sixty-eighth and Sixty-ninth by can 
dle-light during the night, so that they moved before 
morning to Kentucky. In like manner other regiments 
were urged forward. There was no cessation of labor 
by night or day. The following summary of telegrams 
from Governor Morton to General Boyle and others 
will show how the work progressed after the first few 
regiments left: August 17 "I send 1,000 men to 
night ; 7,000 to-morrow and Tuesday." The Twelfth, 
Sixteenth, Sixty-fifth, Sixty-sixth, Sixty-seventh, Sixty- 
eighth, Seventieth, Seventy-first, and Seventy-second 
Regiments were all thereby placed in the field up to 
and including this date. August 21 u I sent another 
regiment last night; a battery will go to-morrow." 
"The Sixty-ninth has started." "The Seventy-fifth 
eaves at 6 P. M. ; the Seventy-fourth at 9 P. M., to-day, 


for Louisville." August 23 "Will have at least 
seventeen additional regiments ready for arms this time 
next week." August 26 " The Seventy-ninth leaves 
Tuesday ; will hurry others." " Indiana has put 14,480 
men in Kentucky up to Friday last ; will make it 
19,296 by Thursday, this week." This includes two 
batteries. August 27 " Another regiment can leave 
to-morro\v. One leaves this evening." August 30 
"The Eighty-ninth leaves this afternoon." "The 
Eighty-first and Eighty-second will be armed to-day." 
"Two regiments will start to-morrow, and five more 
will be ready next week." August 31 "The Eighty- 
eighth is at the depot." " The Eighty-seventh will be 
in Louisville to-morrow morning." " Two regiments 
leave to-day, and two more to-night." The Eighteenth, 
Nineteenth, Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-second, 
Twenty-third, and Twenty-fourth Batteries were organ 
ized, and several of them took the field. The remain 
ing battalion of the Fourth Cavalry was sent to Ken 
tucky, and the Fifth was hastened with all possible 
dispatch for border defense. The river towns were oc 
cupied by the state militia, and at the Indiana arsenal 
nearly seven hundred employees were engaged day and 
night in the fabrication of ammunition, averaging 
300,000 rounds daily. Such was the month of August, 
followed up in September with the same spirit and 

On the 29th and 30th of August was fought the bat 
tle of Richmond, Kentucky, and although it resulted 
disastrously to the Union troops, it checked Genera] 


Smith s advance, and gave time to put Cincinnati, which 
was his objective point, in a state of defense. In this 
battle there were six Indiana, one Kentucky, and one 
Ohio regiment, besides some Kentucky cavalry. The 
opposing force was nearly three times as great. The 
Indiana troops had only been in the service from two 
to three weeks ; the rebels were veterans. In a dis 
patch to President Lincoln, dated September 1, General 
Boyle said : 

" Our troops, especially the Indianians, fought with the 
courage and gallantry of veterans. If Ohio and Illinois had 
supported Indiana, and had sent their troops on, the issue of 
the battle would have been different. Governor Morton has 
sent to this State since I have been in command here over 
twenty thousand men. If other States had done so well we 
could have overwhelmed the enemy. I deplore the loss that 
noble Indiana has sustained under the circumstances. It 
was important to meet the enemy before he reached the 
centre of the State or crossed it, and Indiana, appreciating 
the importance of it, sent her gallant soldiers to meet the 
foe, no doubt feeling that they would be supported by Ohio, 
Illinois, and Kentucky." 

But this formidable raid was not yet ended, and 
Governor Morton s energies were to be still further 
tested. On Wednesday, September 3d, dispatches from 
John Morgan to Kirby Smith were intercepted, disclos 
ing his intention to unite with Smith at or near Lex 
ington. On the same day Frankfort was evacuated by 
the Federals. This was followed by the evacuation of 
Lexington and the advance of Kirby Smith upon Cin 
cinnati. On the 5th of September Governor Morton 


declared martial law in the river counties of Indiana 
and put the citizens on daily drill after 3 o clock p. M. 
On the same day he urged the immediate withdrawal 
of the troops at Bowling Green. This was at once 
done, and saved them from the disaster that subse 
quently befell the garrison at Munfordsville. The same 
day Louisville became equally with Cincinnati a point 
of threatened danger. On the 6th the Eighty-fifth 
and Eighty-sixth Regiments were sent to Cincinnati, 
and during the evening a requisition was received for 
a supply of ammunition for the 24- and 32-pound siege 
guns then in position before Covington, Kentucky. Ar 
tillery, small arms, and ammunition were also greatly 
needed at that point. The State had no heavy ord 
nance, and the Pittsburg arsenal was relied upon to 
furnish supplies for the armament of forts and vessels. 
But by the efforts of Colonel H. Sturm, state ordnance 
officer of Indiana, acting under orders from Governor 
Morton, the following ammunition was made up for 
shipment: 784 12-pound shot, fixed; 480 do. case shot, 
fixed ; 560 do. shell, fixed; 144 rounds canister, fixed ; 
1,450 32-pound shell and canister, fixed; and 720,000 
rounds small arms ammunition, making a total, with 
other shipments during eight days, of 33,136 rounds 
for artillery, and 3,365,000 for small arms, the entire 
amount having been made at the state arsenal. On the 
occasion referred to wagons and drays were impressed 
into the service, a train was soon ready, and in fifteen 
hours from the receipt of the dispatch the ammunition, 
3,000 muskets, and 24 pieces of artillery were delivered 


at Cincinnati and Covington, and were in position for 

Governor Morton, accompanied by a staff of com 
petent officers, went to Cincinnati to organize the forces 
for the defense of that city. Major-general Lewis 
Wallace of Indiana was placed in command and ac 
quitted himself with great credit. It is but just to say 
tnat the people of Cincinnati and of other portions of 
the State of Ohio, and the city and state authorities, did 
their entire duty in this emergency ; but it is not within 
the scope of this narrative to enter into further detail 
than is necessary to illustrate the acts and services of 
Governor Morton. The result of all these efforts was 
that the enemy was deterred from attacking the city 
and finally fell back before the advance of Union troops. 
Governor Morton s services in this perilous crisis were 
so highly appreciated that the City Council of Cin 
cinnati ordered his portrait to be painted by a cele 
brated artist, and it now hangs in the council chamber. 

But the danger to Cincinnati being passed that of 
Louisville seemed imminent, and this called for further 
activity on the part of Governor Morton. September 
17th he telegraphed to General Boyle, urging that the 
city be at once fortified, and recommending that business 
be suspended, and all citizens be put under drill. He 
also urged immediate action for the relief of the garri 
son at Munfordsville, and took steps for securing light 
draught boats for temporary gunboat service in patrol 
ling the river. On the same day, Munfordsville, after 
a gallant resistance, though assailed by General Bragg s 


entire army, surrendered, including the following garri 
son, viz : The Sixtieth, Sixty-seventh, Sixty-eighth, 
Eighty-ninth, and part of the Seventeenth Indiana In 
fantry ; one section of the Fourth Ohio Battery, and 
Captain Hunt s Kentucky Cavalry. On September 22d, 
General Bragg demanded the surrender of Louisville. 
Governor Morton and staff at once proceeded to that 
city to make ample provisions for full issues to the In 
diana troops, many of whom necessarily left without 
complete equipments, and a competent officer was sent 
to New Albany and vicinity to plan works to cover the 
fords and lowlands west of Louisville. Subsequent 
events resulted in the withdrawal of Bragg, the arrival 
of General Buell s command, the battle of Perrysville, 
and the failure of the invasion. 

Thus, in a little over one month, Indiana had organ 
ized over 30,000 three years troops, had borne the 
burden of the battles of Richmond and Munfordsville, 
had assisted in the trenches at Cincinnati and Louis 
ville, and taken part in all the events of this memora 
ble campaign. Such, in brief, is an outline of the part 
borne by Indiana and her War Governor in the 
" Kirby Smith Campaign " of 1862. 

Again, in May, 1864, when John Morgan invaded 
Kentucky, General Burbridge telegraphed to Governor 
Morton for four regiments. The response was : " One 
regiment leaves to-night, another to-morrow, and two 
more next day." A fortnight later word came from 
Louisville : " The city is in danger. We want four or 
five thousand men." Troops were sent immediately. 


The same day General Hobson telegraphed from Cov- 
ington for " any troops you can send me to Louisville 
or Frankfort." Kentucky had then taken every man 
of Indiana s troops that the Governor had. He called 
out the militia of several counties, and placed it in the 
best position for service either at home or across the 
Ohio River. A regiment of reenlisted veterans, just 
arrived at Indianapolis on the short furlough given to 
reenlisted men, at once volunteered to go to Kentucky, 
and were promptly sent to the relief of Governor Brain- 
lette, besieged in Frankfort. A portion of the Indiana 
Legion was sent to guard the Louisville and Nashville 
Railroad. By every effort, and at every point, Indiana 
threw herself forward to protect Kentucky. Thus re 
peatedly and in every emergency Governor Morton 
came to the rescue of Kentucky during the war, until 
he actually became known in familiar parlance as the 
" Governor of Indiana and Kentucky." His great ser 
vices in this regard were fully appreciated at the time, 
and are still remembered by the Union men of Ken 
tucky. In acknowledging them after one of the inva 
sions above referred to, the " Louisville Journal " (the 
lamented George D. Prentice being the writer) said : 

"He has been emphatically Kentucky s guardian spirit 
from the very commencement of the dangers that threatened 
her existence. Kentucky and the whole country owe him a 
large debt of gratitude. Oh, that all the public functionaries 
of the country were as vigilant, as clear-sighted, as energetic, 
as fearless, as chivalric as he." 

Shortly after Kentucky was cleared of rebel troops, 


a wealthy lady of Covington in that State visited some 
friends in Indianapolis, and on the second day of her 
visit inquired for Governor Morton. Upon ascertain 
ing that he was absent and would not return for several 
days, she prolonged her visit somewhat. The day for 
the Governor s return having arrived, and he not ap 
pearing, the lady extended her visit still several days 
more, saying she would not leave Indiana until she had, 
seen him. A friend inquiring of her the reason why 
she was so anxious to see the Hoosier governor, she 
replied : " Because he is our governor as well as 
yours, and has been ever since the beginning of the 




GOVERNOR MORTON has been called " The Soldier s 
Friend," and he fairly earned the title by his indefati 
gable efforts in their behalf. These efforts were di 
rected not only towards securing for the Indiana sol 
diers the best possible equipment in the way of arms, 
thus adding to their efficiency and safety in the field, 
but to seeing that they were well clothed and supplied 
with every comfort that could possibly be supplied in 
time of war. In August, 1861, being then in Wash 
ington, and foreseeing that the Indiana soldiers in the 
mountains of Western Virginia would soon need over 
coats, he telegraphed the state officers to urge the 
United States Quartermaster at Indianapolis " to get 
overcoats of any good material and not wait for a pub 
lic letting. Do have them made at once. The men 
are suffering for them and I am distressed for them." 
The officer above referred to was captious and unac 
commodating, and application was made to the United 
States Quartermaster at Cincinnati for four thousand 
overcoats. They were forwarded in care of the com 
manding officer in West Virginia, but owing to the 
confusion of the times and somebody s blundering, they 


miscarried. After much telegraphing and sending one 
or two special messengers to trace uf the lost articles, 
the Governor finally received a dispatch from General 
Reynolds, in Western Virginia, saying : Clothing is 
coming forward. In a few days we shall have a supply 
for the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, and Seven 
teenth Regiments, except shoes, socks, and caps ; the 
last are not so important. Shoes and socks much 
needed. These regiments have suffered greatly, but 
not a man among them has any fault to find with the 
governor of the State. They are all informed of the 
exertion made in their behalf and appreciate it." 

Again, in the autumn of 1861, being unable to get a 
supply of overcoats from the general government in 
time to protect the men from approaching winter, 
Governor Morton went to New York and purchased 
twenty-nine thousand overcoats. For a portion he paid 
the regular government price of $7.75, and for the re 
mainder $9.25 each. They were immediately forwarded, 
and the men made comfortable. On presentation of 
the bill, the Quartermaster-general refused to pay more 
than the regulation price on any of the coats, leaving 
the difference of $1.50 on a large number of coats to 
be settled by the State. When informed of this decis 
ion, Governor Morton replied : " Indiana will not allow 
her troops to suffer if it be in her power to prevent it, 
and if the general government will not purchase sup 
plies at current rates, Indiana will" And that was 
his spirit from the beginning. With him the question 
was not, " Will the government pay ? " but always, 


" What do the men need ? " and this ascertained, their 
wants were supplied if money and energy could do it. 
But as winter came on the wants of the men increased 
faster than they could be met by regular means. Many 
articles unknown to the regulations were needed for 
camp and hospital. Some of these the government 
could not purchase because they were not in the mar 
ket, and others it would not furnish. Governor Mor 
ton determined to meet this want and, as far as lay 
in his power, make the Indiana soldiers comfortable in 
spite of army regulations and red tape inefficiency. He 
therefore issued the following proclamation : 


" When the President issued his first call to the loyal 
States for help, the government was unprovided with most, 
if not all, of the articles necessary to the comfort and 
health of soldiers in the camp and in the field. The women 
of Indiana were appealed to, and they supplied the defi 
ciency in our State with a generous alacrity which entitles 
them to the gratitude of the nation. The approach of wiji- 
ter makes it necessary to appeal to them again. Our volun 
teers, already suffering from exposure, against which they 
are inadequately protected, will soon be compelled to en 
dure the utmost severity of winter and multiplied dangers 
of disease. The government is doing all that can be done 
for them, but, when all is done, they must still lack many 
comforts which men in ordinary pursuits enjoy, and which 
soldiers need above all others. Many articles of clothing 
which to men with houses over their heads and warm fires 
always near are hardly more than a luxury, to men with no 
protection but a tent, no bed but the ground, and whose 
duty must be performed under the unabated rigors of winter, 
are absolute necessaries. They may save many lives which 


will surely be lost without them. These, the patriotic 
women of Indiana, it is hoped, will supply. An additional 
blanket to every man in our army will preserve hundreds 
to their country and to their families. Two or three pairs 
of good, strong socks will be invaluable to men who must 
often march all day in the snow, and without them must lie 
down with cold and benumbed feet on the frozen ground. 
Good woolen gloves or mittens will preserve their hands in 
marching and in handling their arms, and while adding 
greatly to their comfort, will materially increase their effi 
ciency. Woolen shirts and drawers, too, are a necessity to 
men exposed to such vicissitudes of weather as soldiers. 
All these articles the Indiana volunteers ought to have now, 
and must before winter sets in, if we would protect them 
from exposure and disease, that may be averted by this 
timely preparation. Some of these articles the government 
does not furnish, and others not in sufficient quantities to 
supply the waste produced by the exposure of a soldier s 
life. Blankets cannot be purchased. The stock is com 
pletely exhausted, and the government is soliciting contri 
butions from the citizens. Will not the women of Indiana 
do their share in providing for the men of Indiana in the 

" An hour of each day for a week given to the manufact 
ure of the articles named will provide an ample store. Are 
they not ready to give that, and more, if needed ? I urge 
upon them the duty of promptly beginning the work. Let 
them at once forward, at the State s expense, to the State 
Quartermaster, such blankets as they can spare. They will 
be immediately and carefully sent to such regiments as the 
donors prefer, if they have any preference. Let them 
singly, or by associations, set about the manufacture of 
woolen shirts, drawers, socks, and gloves. The sewing so 
cieties of our churches have a wide field for exertion, wider 
and grander than they will ever find again. Will they not 
give their associations for a time to this beneficent object? 


The numerous female benevolent societies, by giving their 
energies and organizations to this work, can speedily pro 
vide the necessary supply. Let women through the coun 
try, who have no opportunity to join such associations, 
emulate each other in their labors, and see who shall do 
most for their country and its defenders in this hour of 

" The articles should be sent to the quartermaster-general 
of the State, with a card stating the name and residence of 
tlie donor, and their destination, if she has any choice. 
The names will be recorded and preserved, with the number 
and kind of articles sent. The women of Indiana alone can 
meet this emergency, and to them our volunteers, as well as 
the government, look for sympathy and aid. 

" O. P. MORTON, Governor of Indiana. 

October 10, 1861." 

In response to this appeal, an immense quantity of 
the above mentioned articles and other comforts were 
contributed by the women, and forwarded to the 
soldiers. This was the first organized effort of any 
State to make special provision for its soldiers, and 
was the forerunner of all the sanitary commissions. 
By degrees it expanded into a system whose beneficent 
operations were felt in all the armies of the Union. 
Governor Morton also organized the " General Military 
Agency of Indiana," for the special benefit of Indiana 
soldiers. A gentleman of well-known energy and 
probity of character was appointed general agent, to 
whom was intrusted the receipt and distribution of all 
sanitary supplies, the supervision of local agencies, 
and the direction of all matters relating to the relief of 
soldiers. A large number of local and field agents 


were appointed. The former had local offices at vari 
ous points near the field of operations. They were 
required to make their offices the homes of soldiers ; 
to assist them in getting transportation in returning 
home, when they had no money or government passes ; 
to provide them clothing when, as was too often the 
case, they were ragged and necessitous ; to feed them ; 
to facilitate every proper purpose; to take charge of 
returning prisoners, and to provide everything which 
their shocking destitution demanded ; and, in short, to 
exercise a careful guardianship over Indiana soldiers in 
every possible way. Field agents were expected, not 
only to look after the health and comfort of the men, 
but to write letters, to take charge of commissions for 
them to their friends and relatives, to see to the burial 
of the dead, and the preservation of relics, to keep 
registers of the names of all men in hospitals, with date 
of entry, disease or injury, and, in case of death, the 
date and cause, and other information that eaight be of 
interest to the friends. Governor., Morton s agents 
found out Indiana soldiers in every field and in every 
prison. Wherever a Hoosier boy was heard of in 
want or suffering, these humane organizations managed 
to reach him. They were on every battle-field, and 
the echoes of the cannon had hardly died away before 
Indiana s agents were there looking for Indiana sol 
diers. Through the Sanitary Commission enormous 
quantities of fruit and vegetables were distributed 
among Indiana regiments. Amid all his other cares 
the Governor found time to give considerable personal 


attention and supervision to these noble charities. By 
tongue and pen he cheered and inspired the people, 
while the vigor of his administration in this regard, as 
in others, made itself felt through the whole body 
politic. Local societies and organizations were formed, 
and a regular system of competitive patriotism inaug 
urated. In one of his proclamations on this subject he 

An effective working committee in each ward and town 
ship should be at once selected, with such assistants and 
sub-committees as may be necessary, who can easily ascer 
tain the number of families within their limits requiring aid, 
and estimate the quantity, kind, and cost of all supplies 
needed during the winter. Contributions can be taken up 
accordingly. In this work the township trustees, and the 
officers of the various churches, will doubtless lend a willing 
hand. Especially do I desire that ministers of the gospel 
should present this subject to their respective congregations, 
and cooperate^ as far as possible, in carrying out the gen 
eral plan of jelief." 

IB another proclamation, calling for additional vol 
unteers, he said: 

"Upon those who remain at home I would urge the 
solemn duty of making provision for the families of those 
who have or may hereafter enter the army. The soldier in 
the field should have the sweet assurance that his wife and 
Children, and all who are dependent upon his labor for a 
living, will be provided with sufficient food and clothing. 
Such an assurance would nerve his arm in the hour of battle 
and enable him to bear with cheerfulness the hardships and 
privations of a soldier s life. It would be a lasting disgrace 
to our peopl3 if the family of any soldier should want for 


bread or raiment while our country is full to overflowing 
with all the necessaries of life." 

In a proclamation issued in November, 1862, he 
called on the people to contribute liberally to the sup 
port of the families of soldiers in the field. After stat 
ing the case, he said : 

" The truth of what has been stated must be apparent to 
every one, and it remains with the patriotic and liberal citi 
zens of the State to apply the proper remedy. It is their 
solemn duty to see that the needy are cared for; that, while 
the soldier is braving the perils of the battle-field, his wife 
and children and all who are dependent on him are made 
comfortable at home; and especially that his children are 
provided with books and afforded opportunity to attend 
school. This is not charity but a sacred obligation, which 
should be met promptly and willingly, and the recipients 
should be made to feel that they are not objects of charity, 
and that what they receive is but the partial discharge of a 
debt of the most binding character. 

" It maybe urged by many that they have already given 
largely and sacrificed heavily for these benevolent objects, 
and hence that they ought to be excused from further drafts. 
It may be asked, in reply, what are these sacrifices com 
pared with the sacrifices of families who have given their 
natural supporters and protectors to the cause of their coun 
try ? What is the sacrifice of the man living comfortably 
at home, even though he give half his income, to that of 
the man who has left his family and home and gone to the 

I would therefore respectfully and earnestly request, that 
in every township, in every town, and in every ward of the 
several cities in the State, some systematic plan, by means 
of regularly organized committees or auxiliary aid societies, 
be at once adopted for relief. 


In another proclamation county and city authorities 
throughout the State were appealed to " to make ample 
appropriations for the relief of soldiers families in their 
respective jurisdictions, * and the clergy of all denomina 
tions were urged to address themselves to " this great 
work of religious and patriotic duty." Such sentiments 
as these do honor to the heart of him who penned them, 
and show what a noble zeal and tireless energy he 
brought to the service of the State. Thousands of the 
surviving soldiers of Indiana will bear testimony to his 
fatherly care in their behalf, and many a wife or mother 
who mourns the loss of her loved one in the war blesses 
the memory of Governor Morton for comforts carried 
to the death-bed, or for dying messages brought by his 
agents away from the field of battle. The history of 
the Soldiers Relief System organized and inspired by 
him, and of the noble efforts of the people of the State 
in response to his calls, would alone fill a volume much 
larger than this. Auxiliary societies were formed in 
all parts of the State, sanitary fairs were held, appeals 
were made from pulpit and platform. The result of 
these efforts was the contribution of enormous stores and 
large sums of money, all of which were gladly intrusted 
to Governor Morton, and by him and his agents faith 
fully distributed to the soldiers. He inspired every im 
portant movement, counseled in every great emergency, 
kept popular interest excited by stirring appeals, and, 
though charged with other duties as onerous as ever fell 
upon the executive of any State, and allowing nothing 
in any of their multifarious details to escape his vigi- 


lance, he might have been thought, by those uninformed 
of his many labors, to have had nothing at heart but 
the success of his plans for the relief of the soldiers of 
Indiana and their dependent and needy families. His 
labors in this regard were the subject of universal com 
ment and approval, and were held up as a matter for 
emulation by the governors of other States. The ag 
gregate result of these labors, seconded by the people, 
was that during the war over $600,000 of money and 
supplies were collected and conveyed to Indiana soldiers 
in camp, in fie^d, in hospital, or in prison. 

The limits of this sketch forbid more than a mere 
reference to Governor Morton s labors in connection 
with the establishment of the Soldiers Home at Indian 
apolis where, during the war, thousands upon thousands 
of Indiana soldiers were fed and lodged during their stay 
at the capital ; of the Ladies Home," where the wives 
and families of soldiers .in need of temporary aid were 
similarly cared for; and of the "Orphans Home," at 
Knightstown, for the maintenance and education of the 
orphaned children of Indiana soldiers. One might sup 
pose that his duties to the general government and his 
gigantic labors in the raising, arming, and moving of 
troops would have left him little time to look after 
the personal wants of soldiers, and still less of their 
families ; but the record shows that he regarded this as 
a sacred duty, and gave it all the attention necessary to 
render the system complete and efficient. His heart 
was as full of sympathy as his head was of resources, 
and in every sense of the word he was the Soldier s 



ONE of the labors devolved on Governor Morton by 
the war, and made very important by the exposed con 
dition of our border as well as by tke condition of 
affairs within the State, was the organization of the 
state militia. This work had no immediate connection 
with his duty to the federal government, but it never 
theless performed an important supplementary part and 
was of great service to the State. The General As 
sembly, at its special session in 1861, passed " An act 
for the Organization and Regulation of the Indiana 
Militia." The militia had not been organized for thirty 
years, and whatever acts may have existed relating to 
the subject were a dead letter. The act of 1861 was 
not a good one, but it was much better than nothing. 
It was poorly suited for a state of war, but such as it 
was Governor Morton made the most of it. Under it 
was organized the " Indiana Legion." This constituted 
a very efficient force for the protection of the border, 
and rendered valuable service at different times in re 
pelling invasions of the State, or suppressing internal 
disorder. It also constituted a sort of nursery for the 
army, and became an efficient aid in promoting enlist- 


meDts. In one of his messages to the Legislature, Gov 
ernor Morton said : " To the officers and men of the 
Indiana Legion the State chiefly owes the immunity 
she has enjoyed from invasion, plunder, and murder, by 
the guerillas and marauding bands which have infested 
many of the adjoining counties of Kentucky. On sev 
eral occasions they met the enemy in battle, when they 
ably maintained the credit of the State, and behaved 
with that distinguished courage which has characterized 
the soldiers of Indiana throughout this war." In this 
as in other respects he showed remarkable foresight in 
providing for the contingencies of war and protecting 
the peace and honor of the State. When the rebel 
General John Morgan made his celebrated raid into 
Indiana, in July, 1863, at the head of 2,200 cavalry, 
Governor Morton was able, by means of the Legion 
and hastily rallied militia, not only to protect the capital 
and defeat Morgan s designs, but to convert his raid 
into a desperate retreat and drive him pell-mell out 
of the State. And when Morgan escaped with his force 
into Ohio, Governor Morton notified the governor of 
that State of the fact, and tendered him the services of 
5,000 Indiana state troops if needed to assist in cap 
turing the rebel raiders. 

A memorable phase of our state history at this 
period, and one peculiar to Indiana and to Governor 
Morton s administration, was the secret disloyal intrigue 
carried on by certain parties, resulting finally in open 
demonstrations of treason and a plot to carry the State 
out of the Union. The war record of Indiana is a 


monument more enduring than brass to the loyalty and 
patriotism of her people who stood by the government ; 
but there was another class who did all in their power 
to embarrass and cripple the efforts of Governor Mor 
ton to uphold the authority of the nation. If the noble 
sacrifices of the former are worthy to be honored as 
long as the sentiments of loyalty and patriotism survive 
in the breasts of men, the infamous conduct of the lat 
ter deserves to be held up for execration to the last 
syllable of recorded time. There were disloyal men 
and Democratic rebel sympathizers in nearly all the 
Northern States, but nowhere were they so numerous, 
malignant, active, and well organized as in Indiana. 
For a little while after the firing on Fort Sumter the 
voices of these domestic traitors were hushed in the 
great roar of public patriotism, but they soon recovered 
confidence, and entered on a course of political intrigue 
and revolutionary plotting, which was kept up during 
the whole war. In proportion as Governor Morton 
showed himself energetic and vigorous in his war pol 
icy, these men hated and maligned him, and sought to 
defeat his plans. They exerted themselves to weaken 
our armies by encouraging desertion, by discouraging 
or forcibly resisting recruiting, and by crippling the 
efforts of the state authorities to send reinforcements 
into the field. They held meetings and conventions, 
and passed resolutions denouncing the war. They 
labored to produce discontent and even disloyalty 
among the soldiers by sending them papers and letters 
condemning the war, urging desertion and promising 


protection to deserters. In nearly every county of the 
State they formed an organization for resisting the 
draft, protecting deserters, and obstructing enlistments. 
Finally, they organized a secret treasonable society 
known as the " Sons of Liberty," for the express pur 
pose of aiding the rebellion by resisting the necessary 
demands of the government, and prepared by the arm 
ing and drilling of its members to resort to active hos 
tilities in the prosecution of its infamous designs. Dur 
ing the winter of 1861-62 and the summer of 1863, 
the disloyal sentiment was very active, taking fresh 
heart from the disastrous result of McClellan s Rich 
mond campaign and the prevailing depression of the 
Union cause at that time. County and local meetings 
were held in many parts of the State, which declared 
the war for the Union an " abolition crusade," a " cruel, 
and unnecessary war against the rights of the South ; " 
denounced President Lincoln as " a tyrant and usurper," 
Union soldiers as " Lincoln hirelings," " Lincoln dogs," 
etc. Governor Morton was an object of special hatred 
to the fomenters of disloyalty, and they would gladly 
have put him out of the way if they could. In fact, 
it is a matter of historical record that they did plot his 
death. While he was fighting the rebellion in the 
South he had to fight another incipient rebellion at 
home. In the fall of 1862 the Democrats carried the 
State, electing a majority of both branches of the Legis 
lature. It was a thoroughly disloyal body. The first 
exhibition of its temper was in connection with the 
Governor s message, which was as important a docu- 


ment as was ever prepared by any state executive for a 
legislature. It contained an account of the action of 
the state authorities, from the commencement of the 
war, a period of nearly two years ; suggested necessary 
measures for the better care of our soldiers families ; 
recommended important steps, the value of which was 
fully demonstrated the following summer, for improv 
ing the efficiency of the state militia ; and exhibited 
the civil as well as military condition of the State, as 
needing prompt and judicious legislation. It was just 
what the Legislature needed, and should have been 
anxious to obtain. The message was communicated by 
Governor Morton to the Legislature in printed form. 
That body declined to receive it, and subsequently 
passed a joint resolution thanking Governor Seymour 
of New York " for the able and patriotic defense of the 
Constitution, the laws, and liberties of the American 
citizen contained in his late message." Of course this 
was intended as a studied insult to Governor Morton, 
and it well illustrates the sort of recognition which 
rebel sympathizers in Indiana gave to Governor Morton 
for his noble efforts in sustaining the government dur 
ing the war. This and the subsequent action of this 
disloyal Legislature did not escape the notice of the 
Indiana soldiers in the field, who made it the occasion, 
not only of rebuking the General Assembly, but of 
declaring their unwavering regard for the Governor. 
Thus at a meeting of the officers of the Indiana regi 
ments in the Department of the Cumberland, held at 
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, January 26, 1863, at which 


twenty-two regiments of infantry and four batteries of 
artillery were represented, a memorial was unanimously 
adopted, after having been read by the officers to all 
the regiments, in which they addressed the Legislature 
as follows : 

"The undersigned, officers and soldiers of the Indiana 
volunteer regiments, submitting with patriotic self-denial 
to the policy which denied us a voice in the late election, and 
approving the wisdom of that feature of our government 
which secures the civil from the influence of the military 
power, nevertheless desire to participate in the preliminary 
councils which are to shape the popular ideas of the State, 
and consequently to control the actions of its Representatives 
in the General Assembly. We speak as soldiers, because 
our lives are staked upon the issue of the present struggle ; 
as citizens, because, at no distant day, those of us who sur 
vive are to share with you the responsibilities of citizenship, 
and to experience, in common with the people at home, the 
results of your present deliberations 

" We come boldly asking only what we have a rio-ht to 
expect, either as citizens or soldiers battling for the integ 
rity of the Union. We ask simply that you will give this 
war a cheerful and hearty support ; that you will strengthen 
and energize every department of government, that this 
unhappy struggle may be pressed to a successful termination; 
that you will pour out the treasure of the State as your sol 
diers have poured out their blood on the field of battle, to 
aid in the holy cause of restoring the Union of our fathers; 
that you will abstain from heated political discussions and 
violent party wranglings, until the authority of the govern 
ment is once more established ; that you will resist the 
infernal spirit that would waste victory in humiliating com 
promise, or render temporary reverses a pretext for the alien? 
ation of an unoffending community; that you will sacrifice 


everything, except liberty and political equality, to national 
integrity; that you will sustain all the officers of the state 
and general government in their efforts to subdue this un 
holy rebellion; and especially that you will sustain our wor 
thy Governor, whose every energy, during the past two years, 
has been so entirely devoted to the cause of the government 
and its supporters. 

" We appeal to you, especially, to sustain him, for the rea 
son that it is chiefly to his unceasing care and labor, exhibited 
in arming and supporting the troops of Indiana, that we have 
to attribute our present proud position among the loyal 
States of the Union ; and for the further reason, that he has 
demonstrated by his acts that he is an earnest and zealous 
patriot, devoting his time with untiring energy to the glo 
rious cause for which we are battling. 

" We appeal to you, as our representatives, to encourage 
him in the good work of ministering to the wants of our un 
fortunate comrades who have been stricken down in the 
strife of the battle-field and by the cruelty of relentless dis 
ease; that you will confer on him all the necessary authority, 
and place in his hands the requisite means, to carry on the 
good work which he has begun, remembering that one hu 
man life is worth all the treasures of the proudest State." 

With this memorial was transmitted a series of reso 
lutions declaring the unswerving loyalty of the soldiers, 
their determination to " fight it out on that line ; " and 
concluding as follows : ," Resolved, That we tender to 
his Excellency, Governor O. P. Morton, the thanks of 
his grateful friends in the army for his extraordinary 
efforts in their behalf, and assure him that neither time 
nor the corrupting influence of party shall ever estrange 
the soldier from the soldier s friend." 

The officers arid men of two regiments at Corinth, 


Mississippi, held a meeting January 31, 1863, and unan 
imously adopted resolutions from which we quote as 
follows : 

" Resolved, That we have watched the traitorous conduct 
of those members of the Legislature of Indiana who, mis 
representing their constituency, have been proposing a sus 
pension of hostilities, ostensibly to arrange terms of peace, 
but really to give time for the nearly exhausted rebels to re 
cover strength, and plotting to divest Governor Morton of 
the rights vested in him by our state Constitution and laws, 
and to them we calmly and firmly say, beware of the terrible 
retribution that is falling upon your coadjutors at the South, 
and as your crime is tenfold blacker, will swiftly smite you 
with tenfold more horror should you persist in your damnable 
deeds of treason. 

" Resolved, That in tendering our thanks to Governor Mor 
ton arid assuring him of our cordial support in his efforts to 
crush this inhuman rebellion, we are deeply and feelingly in 
earnest. We have left to the protection of the laws he is to 
enforce all that is dear to man our wives, our children, and 
our homes ; and should the loathsome treason of madmen, 
who are trying to wrest from him a portion of his just au 
thority, render it necessary, in his opinion, for us to return 
and crush out treason at home, we will promptly obey a 
proper order to do so ; for we despise a sneaking traitor in 
the rear more than open rebels in front." 

Similar resolutions were adopted by nearly every 
regiment of Indiana volunteers in the field and for 
warded to the Legislature, but that body either utterly 
ignored or openly condemned them. Such was In 
diana Democracy during the war. The action of the 
Legislature in declining to receive the message of Gov 
ernor Morton was the key-note to all its subsequent 


acts. It made a most odious and treasonable record, and 
finally adjourned without passing a single one of the 
appropriation bills necessary to carry on the state gov 
ernment, or paying the slightest attention to any of the 
Governor s recommendations except to spurn or de 
nounce them. The failure to pass the appropriation 
bills presented a new complication of affairs. In this 
trying emergency Governor Morton had three courses 
open before him : first, to allow the state institutions 
to be closed, the interest on the State s bonds to go un 
paid and its credit to become bankrupt ; second, to call 
a special session of the same Legislature and endeavor 
to shame it into a performance of its duty ; third, to 
devise extraordinary means of raising money to carry 
along the state government and preserve its credit. 
He chose the latter course. He organized a Bureau of 
Finance, appointed W. H. H. Terrell financial secre 
tary, and devised a new system of state government. 
He appealed to the people, to private bankers, and to 
various counties of the State to furnish funds to carry 
on the state government, confident that the next Leg 
islature would be a loyal one and justify his acts. The 
response was prompt and liberal. Many counties made 
appropriations ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 eacli. 
Private citizens advanced a considerable sum, and one 
railroad company patriotically loaned $15,000. Gov 
ernor Morton went to Washington, and on his repre 
sentation of the case the general government advanced 
him, as a disbursing officer, $250,000 out of a special 
ippropriation for military expenses. Thus, through 


his personal energy and efforts, funds were raised to 
carry on the state government, keep all the state in 
stitutions open, and defray civil and military expenses. 
The state officers were hostile to his administration, 
and he carried out his plans entirely independent of 
them. The Bureau of Finance established by him con 
tinued from April, 1863, to January, 1865. The total 
amount of cash raised and received by Governor Mor 
ton, during this period, was $1,026,321.31. Of this 
amount, he disbursed, through his financial secretary, 
for civil purposes $199,644.93. and for military pur 
poses $702,420.15, making a total of $902,065.08. Of 
the balance left in his hands ($124,256.23) $115,487.18, 
being part of the military fund, was paid back to the 
general government, and $8,768.95 was paid into the 
state treasury. Every dollar disbursed during the one 
year and nine months of his financial administration 
was paid on his check, proper and sufficient vouchers 
being taken in all cases. Not a dollar was lost or mis 
appropriated. There is no similar case on record of 
the governor of a State raising funds by his personal 
efforts to support the state government, and carrying 
it along for nearly two years without any appropriations 
by the Legislature and without any assistance from the 
state officers. 

Meanwhile the enemies of the government continued 
their secret plottings and overt demonstrations through 
out the State. Reference has already been made to 
some of the treasonable practices by which they sought 
to embarrass the administration of Governor Morton, 


but all of these, wicked as they were, sink into insignifi 
cance when compared with the step in which they 
finally culminated. This was nothing less than the 
organization of a secret treasonable society, called 
"Knights of the Golden Circle," the undoubted purpose 
of which was to plunge the State into revolution and 
precipitate a civil war in its borders. Space would 
fail to relate the numerous outrages and open acts of 
treason perpetrated by this organization before it was 
discovered. In some counties Union men had been 
driven from their homes, their houses and barns had 
been burned, draft officers had been killed, squads of 
soldiers sent to arrest deserters had been fired upon, 
and companies of rebel sympathizers drilled in open 
day, with the avowed purpose of resisting the govern 
ment authorities. Governor Morton was the special 
object of their hatred. His life was repeatedly threat 
ened. Once he was fired at as he was leaving the 
state house at night, the bullet grazing his head. 1 

1 On this point we have unquestionable authority. Gen. H. B. Car- 
rington, at that time United States mustering officer in Indiana, and 
closely associated with the Governor, both officially and personally, 
writes : " He went unarmed, was out as duty required, and often 
unattended at a late hour. On one occasion he awakened me at the 
Bates House after midnight, in haste, saying, As I left the state 
house for home, I was fired at. The ball whizzed by me. You must 
see what is up to-night. I got up, dressed, and went with him. As 
we approached his house a second pistol shot was fired, a few rods 
beyond and opposite the north entrance of the state house. I left 
him until after the arrest of the party firing, and returned to his house. 
He was calm, but earnest, saying, They want to kill me because I am 
governor. They can t do it. Indiana will support me, but you must 
watch those fellows. There must be no risk just now. " The evi- 


These outrages became so frequent, and the talk of 
organized resistance to the draft so alarming, that in 
June, 1863, the Governor issued a proclamation, recit 
ing the act of Congress to define and punish treasona 
ble conspiracies, and ordering the agitators to submit to 
the laws. In this proclamation, after quoting the act 
of Congress referred to (an act passed July 31, 1861), 
Governor Morton said : 

" These sections are very broad, and cover every form of 
opposition to the arrest of deserters and the enforcement of 
the conscription law. By the 25th section it is made a 
high penal offense to counsel or aid any person to resist the 
draft ; to counsel any person to assault, obstruct, or hinder 
any officer engaged in making the draft ; to counsel any 
drafted man not to appear at the place of rendezvous, or 
willfully dissuade him from the performance of military duty, 
as required by law. To bring a case within this section, it 
is not necessary that there should be a conspiracy or combi 
nation. If one man shall give to another the counsel or ad 
vice prohibited in the section, he is subject to the punish 
ment it prescribes. Nor is it material how he shall give this 
counsel or advice, whether by public speaking, publishing 
in pamphlets or newspapers, or by private conversation. 
Nor is it material that such counsel or advice shall be direct 
and in terms. The law holds a man responsible for the 
natural and legitimate consequences of his acts ; so also for 
the natural and legitimate effects of what he may say. If 
what he speaks or publishes is naturally and reasonably cal- 

dence brought out in the treason trial showed conclusively that the 
"Sons of Liberty" plot contemplated the Governor s assassination. 
One witness said, " Governor Morton was to be put out of the way ; " 
another testified that " Governor Morton was to be taken care of," 
either held as a hostage for those who might be taken prisoners or 
made way with in some way." 


culated to excite the hatred of men against our government, 
and resistance to the conscription law, he is within the 
purview of the section, although in the conclusion he might 
insert a saving clause, by formally declaring that the laws 
must be obeyed, and no resistance offered to the govern 
ment. In such a case the law will look to the spirit and 
treasonable effect of what is said, and not to the mere words 

Then quoting an act passed by the Indiana Legisla 
ture at the extra session in 1861, entitled " An act to 
define certain felonies, and to provide for the punish 
ment of persons guilty thereof," he added : 

" This act is very broad in its character, and comprehends 
all organizations having for their purpose resistance to any 
of the laws of the United States, or which are intended to 
weaken the power of the government, and disable it from 
suppressing the rebellion thus giving aid and comfort to 
our enemies. It having been enacted by the Legislature of 
the State, it is especially commended to the consideration of 
such persons as are tainted with the dangerous heresy that 
their allegiance is due to the State and not to the United 
States. The offenses defined and punished in the statutes 
I have quoted are below the grade of treason, and the guilt 
of the accused party may be established by one creditable 
witness, or by circumstantial evidence, as in ordinary crimi 
nal prosecutions. It will be my purpose in the future, as in 
the past, to do my whole duty to the government of the 
United States and the people of Indiana. In the adminis 
tration of the law, and the performance of official duties, I 
recognize no parties. All who obey the laws, keep the peace, 
and discharge their duties as citizens, are alike entitled to 
and will receive protection in person and property. The 
alarm which some are attempting to create of the improper 
interference of the military authorities, may be dismissed as 


without foundation. The right of the people peaceably to 
assemble and petition for a redress of grievances, and speak 
and publish their opinions touching the policy of the govern 
ment, or the conduct of the war, must be respected, and the 
enjoyment of it protected. But there is a wide difference 
between the legitimate exercise of this right and that un 
bridled license of speech which seeks, by the assertion of the 
most atrocious falsehoods, to exasperate the people to mad 
ness and drive them into a position of neutrality between 
their government and the rebels, if not into the very arms of 
the rebellion combine them in dangerous societies, provoke 
them to resist the laws, and thus contribute directly to 
weaken our own government and strengthen the cause of the 
enemy. The criticism of one who is friendly to the govern 
ment, and who is anxious that it shall succeed and be pre 
served, and who points out its errors in order that they 
may be corrected, is wholly different from that denunciation 
which seeks to bring the government into contempt and ren 
der it odious to the people, thereby withdrawing from it that 
natural support so necessary to its life when struggling in 
battle with a powerful enemy. The one can never be mis 
taken for the other. It must be borne in mind that the ex 
ercise of the plainest rights and privileges may be greatly 
modified by surrounding circumstances ; that what may be 
proper or innocent and harmless at one time may be danger 
ous and criminal at another. To advocate the right of se 
cession and rebellion, or the dissolution of our government, 
might be harmless enough in time of profound peace, but 
when the country is engaged in a desperate civil war, which 
is consuming the best blood and treasure of the nation, and 
the misfortune of arms might, within a few days, bring tli3 
enemy upon the soil of our State, will it be contended that 
the privilege of free speech gives the right to advocate the 
rebellion, resistance to our own government, or the abandon 
ment of it to its enemies ? That which is idle talk in time 
tf peace may become * aid and comfort to the enemy, and 


punishable by the laws of the land when that enemy is at 
our doors. Let me exhort the people to moderation and 
submission to the laws, and laying aside their resentments 
and prejudices, to take counsel only of their duties and the 
dangers which threaten the nation ; and while I assure them 
that protection shall be extended to life, liberty, and prop 
erty, and that equal and exact justice shall be administered 
to all, I would impress them with the fact, that if needs be 
the whole power of the State and nation will be invoked to 
execute the laws, preserve the public peace, and bring 
offenders to punishment." 

This resistance to the draft in Indiana, and the 
demonstrations of violence by which it was accompanied, 
were undoubtedly intended to, and did, furnish aid and 
comfort to the rebels in arms. The evidence on this 
point was cumulative and overwhelming ; but the scope 
of this work does not admit of entering into . these de 

Finally, in 1864, through the efforts of Governor 
Morton, and an officer whom he had employed to assist 
him, a full exposure was made of the secret organiza 
tion known as the " Knights of the Golden Circle," or 
" Sons of Liberty." The exposure was complete 
embracing the signs, grips, passwords, oaths, ceremonies, 
principles, and purposes of the order. The membership 
in the State at that time was about 50,000. Its officers 
had $200,000 in their hands for the purpose of buying 
arms. The leaders were in constant communication 
with the rebels. An outbreak had been planned to 
take place in August, 1864. The arsenal at Indian 
apolis was to be seized, railroad and telegraph lines to 


be cut, and the rebel prisoners confined here to be lib 
erated. Governor Morton was to be captured, and, if 
necessary, put out of the way. The combined forces 
of released prisoners arid Sons of Liberty were to join 
the rebel forces, who were to advance to meet them, in 
Kentucky. With such information in his possession, 
Governor Morton was prepared to deal this treasonable 
organization a crushing blow. He caused the arrest of 
the Grand Commander of the order in this State, the 
Deputy Grand Commander, and four District Com 
manders. These arrests completely overthrew the 
plans of the order. It was determined to make an ex 
ample of the leaders arrested. Accordingly, a military 
commission was organized, and they were put upon 
their trial for conspiracy and treason. Pending the 
trial the Grand Commander made his escape from the 
United States court building at Indianapolis and fled 
to Canada. The evidence against the others was over 
whelming. One of them turned state s evidence, and 
disclosed all the secrets of the order. The court finally 
found all four of them guilty as charged, and sentenced 
three of them to death and one to imprisonment. The 
death sentence was approved, the day fixed for its ex 
ecution, and preparations for it commenced, when, 
upon the earnest representations of Governor Morton 
and other prominent loyal men, the President com 
muted their sentence to confinement in the Ohio peni 
tentiary. 1 After the close of the war they were par- 

1 As there has been some discussion in regard to Governor Morton s 
tonnection with the commutation of the sentence of these men. 


doned. Those were times when men s passions ran 
high and Governor Morton was severely criticised by 

Bowles and Milligan, a brief statement of the facts may not be amiss, 
and we will preface it with the remark that our authority for every 
statement here made is the Hon. John U. Pettit, of Wabash, who 
went to Washington as the special messenger of Governor Morton, to 
intercede with President Johnson for the commutation of the sen 
tence. The time fixed for the execution of the sentence of death on 
these men was June 2, 1865, and an order had been received from 
President Johnson to carry it into effect " without delay." Just after 
the receipt of this order, in the latter part of Ma} , Judge Pettit being 
in Indianapolis, Governor Morton sent for him. He went to the 
Governor s office. After an earnest interview in which the Governor 
declared his purpose to prevent the execution of the men if possible, 
Judge Pettit was requested to go to Washington at once as the agent 
of Governor Morton and to urge a commutation of the sentence. 
He consented to go, and Governor Morton immediately sat down and 
wrote a very earnest letter to the President stating in effect that the 
country was now at peace, the necessity for the executions had passed, 
and closing with the words, strongly underscored, "Mr. President, 
I protest against these executions." Judge Pettit went to Washing 
ton with this letter, and as soon as possible after his arrival there 
called on the President. When he entered the President s room the 
latter was engaged in a conference with some other persons. Judge 
Pettit says: " As the party was bowed out the President turned, and 
I rose instantly and delivered my letter. He read it, paused, and, as 
if without motion, except to turn his look at me, then remarked: 
You have a governor in Indiana that uses strong words. I an 
swered: Mr. President, when Governor Morton feels warmly he 
speaks so. " Then, speaking for Governor Morton and as his agent, 
Judge Pettit urged the commutation of the death sentence passed 
upon the doomed men, and in respectful but earnest terms protested 
against its execution now that the war had closed and the necessity 
had passed. At first the President was inexorable and it was only 
after several interviews and much discussion that he was 1 mally 
brought to the point of action. On the afternoon when he had prom 
ised to give a final answer he had started for Bull Run to review some 
troops returning from the South, and sent back an orderly sergeanl 
from Alexandria with an order for the commutation. Judge Pettil 
immediately telegraphed the result of his mission to Governor Morton, 


"some for thus interposing to save the lives of two men 
who had plotted treason against both the state and 
national governments. But reviewing the whole case 
in the added light of experience, all right-minded per 
sons must approve his action in this regard, while it is 
impossible not to admire his magnanimity in interfering 
to save the lives of those who had been deep in the 
plot which contemplated his death. 

The foregoing summary presents but a meagre and 
imperfect outline of the operations of the enemies of 
the government in Indiana during the civil war, and of 
the desperate means by which they endeavored to de 
feat the loyal efforts of Governor Morton. But the 
masses of the people were with him and he knew it. 
Thrice armed in the justice of his cause and in the 
knowledge that the loyal people of the State were with 
him, heart and soul, he still pressed forward with an 
energy that overcame all obstacles and a zeal that 
fairly burned its way through difficulties. Thus, in 
spite of the machinations of his enemies and those of 
the government, he held the State firmly to its duty, 
and, aided by the loyal men and women who upheld his 
hands, made for it a record which shall only grow more 
lustrous as the generations pass. 

and " this," he says, "was unmistakably the first public information 
of the fact." He concludes his statement with the unqualified declara 
tion that "by Governor Morton s interest and earnestness the lives of 
these two men were spared." 



AN attempt has been made in the briefest possible 
manner to indicate the scope and character of Gov 
ernor Morton s labors during the war. To recount 
them in full would require many volumes, but a few 
additional instances may be cited of his services to the 
State and nation and his care for the soldiers. 

Quite early in the war he became convinced that the 
opening of the Mississippi River was of vital impor 
tance in a political as well as military point of view. 
Not only would it sever the Confederacy and cut off a 
large source of supplies, but it would prove to the peo 
ple that, come what might, the government intended 
to hold the great commercial artery of the continent. 
Throughout the West this was regarded as a matter of 
prime importance. In the early part of 1862 there 
began to be considerable talk among Western Demo 
crats of forming a Northwestern Confederacy, to act in 
concert with the Southern States, and to hold the Mis 
sissippi River in common. It was one of the means 
adopted by them to demoralize the public mind, under 
mine the patriotism of the people, and defeat the efforts 


of the government to preserve the Union. On the 
27th of October, 1862, Governor Morton addressed a 
letter to President Lincoln on this subject, in which, 
after referring to the Northwestern Confederacy plan, 
and to the use which Democratic politicians were mak 
ing of it, he said : 

"Let us take security against it if possible, especially 
when by so doing we shall be pursuing the surest mode for 
crushing out the rebellion in every part, and restoring the 
Union to its former limits. The plan which I have to sug 
gest is the complete clearing out of all obstacles to the navi 
gation of the Mississippi River and the thorough conquest of 
the States upon the western bank. Between the State of 
Missouri and the Gulf of Mexico on the western bank are 
the States of Arkansas and Louisiana. Arkansas has a 
population of about 325,000 white citizens and 111,000 
slaves, and a very large percentage of her white population 
are in the rebel army, and serving east of the Mississippi. 
Of the fighting population of western Louisiana, not less 
than fifty per cent, are in the rebel army, and in service east 
of the river. The river once in our possession, and occupied 
by our gunboats, can never be crossed by a rebel army, and 
the fighting men now without those States could not get 
back to their relief. To make the conquest of those States 
thorough and complete, your proclamation should be ex 
ecuted in every county and every township and upon every 
plantation. All this can be done within ninety days, with 
an army of less than 100,000 men. Texas would then be 
entirely isolated from the rebel Confederacy, and would 
readily fall into our hands. She has, undoubtedly, a large 
Union element in her population, and with her complete 
separation from the people of the other rebel States could 
make but feeble resistance. When this shall have been 
accomplished, a glance at the map will show what immense 


advantages will have been obtained. The remaining rebel 
States, separated by the river, would be cut off effectually 
from all the Territories and the States of Mexico. The 
dangers to be apprehended from the French aggressions in 
Mexico would be avoided. The entire western part of the 
continent now belonging to the government would be se 
cured to us, and all communication lx-tween the rebel States 
and the States on the Pacific entirely stopped. The work 
of conquest in Arkansas and Louisiana would be easy and 
certain, and the presence of our gunboats in the river would 
effectually prevent any large force from coming from the 
East to the relief of these States. The complete emancipa 
tion that could and should be made of all the slaves in 
Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas would place the possession 
of those States on a very different footing from any other 
rebel territory which we have heretofore overrun. But an 
other result to be gained by the accomplishment of this 
plan will be the creation of a guarantee against the further 
depreciation of the loyalty of the Northwestern States by 
giving the assurance that, whatever may be the result of the 
war, the free navigation and control of the Mississippi River 
will be secured at all events." 

These are the views of a statesman. They show that 
Governor Morton saw not only the necessity of putting 
<m end to the Northwestern Confederacy agitation, but 
the vital importance to the government of splitting the 
Southern Confederacy by opening the Mississippi River, 
which Jefferson Davis, at the beginning of the war, had 
declared " the South would never surrender." There is 
reason to believe that the views expressed in the fore 
going letter had no little influence in shaping the sub 
sequent policy of the government. 


Governor Morton originated and suggested the " one 
hundred days movement " which proved of great serv 
ice to the Union cause. The spring of 18G4 opened 
with the prospect of much desperate and bloody work 
for the Union armies. Campaigns were about to be 
undertaken which it was hoped would result in the 
overthrow of the rebellion. Our generals were anx 
ious to have all the troops possible for active service, and 
every enlisted man fit for duty was wanted at the front. 
On the 6th of April General Sherman telegraphed 
Governor Morton to push forward all the troops he 
could, saying, " Three hundred men in time are better 
than a thousand too late. Now is the time every 
soldier should be in his proper place at the front." 
For some time it had been apparent to Governor Mor 
ton that a considerable army of men, many of them 
veterans, were withdrawn from active service by the 
necessity of guarding railroads, stores, and fortifications 
in the rear. The idea occurred to him that if these 
trained soldiers could be released from this duty by the 
substitution of new recruits in their places, and thus 
permitted to take part in the active operations of the 
campaign, an important advantage would be gained. 
Revolving this matter he finally devised a plan to meet 
the desired end. Governor Brough of Ohio happening 
to be at Indianapolis just at this juncture, Governor 
Morton laid his plan before him, and the result was the 
"hundred days movement." On the lltli of April a 
telegram was sent to the governors of Illinois, Iowa, 
Wisconsin, and Michigan inviting them to meet the 


governors of Ohio and Indiana on important business 
at Indianapolis on the 22d. The meeting took place, 
all the governors mentioned being present. The result 
of the conference was a joint proposition to the Presi 
dent to furnish 85,000 infantry troops for the aproach- 
ing campaign, their term of service to be " one hundred 
days, reckoned from the date of muster into the service 
of the United States, unless sooner discharged." The 
troops were to be apportioned and furnished as follows : 
Ohio, 30,000 ; Indiana, 20,000 ; Illinois, 20,000 ; Iowa, 
10,000 ; Wisconsin, 5,000. The proposition was signed 
by the five governors named, and on the 24th of April 
was indorsed by President Lincoln. " The foregoing 
proposition of the governors is accepted, and the Sec 
retary of War is directed to carry it into execution." 
The above quotas were not entirely filled, but the move 
ment resulted in the raising of a large force of hundred 
days men, who, by relieving older and more experienced 
troops from guard duty, greatly strengthened the avail 
able force of the Union armies and undoubtedly con 
tributed to the success of the cause. 

In 1861, when the first Indiana troops were organ 
ized, it was found impossible to procure suitable ammu 
nition for them, and in order to meet this want Gov 
ernor Morton, acting solely upon his own responsibility 
and without authority of law, started a small laboratory 
for the manufacture of cartridges for the use of Indiana 
troops. This seemed to be a military necessity at the 
time, and subsequently proved of great benefit to the 


general government as well as to the State. What at 
first was a very small undertaking and intended only 
as a temporary aid to the government, gradually grew 
into an extensive establishment, and from supplying an 
existing necessity became a source of profit to the State. 
Finally, after large quantities of ammunition had been 
manufactured and sent to the field, an arrangement was 
made by which the general government agreed to pay 
for the ammunition already issued, at prices below what 
the same would have cost if made in the government 
arsenals, but still remunerative to the State. It was 
also provided that the arsenal should be continued and 
that future supplies should be paid for at the same 
rates. The entire operations of the arsenal thus estab 
lished by Governor Morton and carried on under his 
direction amounted during the war to $791,652, all of 
which was faithfully accounted for. Upon a final set 
tlement with the general government, and after refund 
ing to the State treasury every dollar that had been 
drawn from it, there remained a clear cash balance in 
favor. of the State of $71,380, which Governor Morton 
turned over to the State. Thus his foresight and man 
agement in the arsenal matter inured to the great ben 
efit of the troops in the field, to the advantage of the 
government and the profit of the State. The present 
beautiful arsenal at Indianapolis is the outgrowth and 
successor of the undertaking here described. 

After the fall of Vicksburg great numbers of Indiana 
troops lay wounded or sick in the regimental and field 


hospitals of the South. The weather was hot, hospital 
accommodations meagre, and the means of sending the 
men North very inadequate. The case being thus, 
Governor Morton determined to do something for the 
Indiana soldiCTs. He first sent an officer South to 
obtain necessary facts, and supplied with these he went 
to Washington. Calling upon the Secretary of War 
he laid the facts before him and asked permission to 
remove the Indiana sick and wounded North. The 
Secretary of War declined to grant permission on the 
ground that it would make trouble in the army if Indi 
ana were accorded such a privilege. Governor Mor 
ton at once told the Secretary that he should go to the 
President with the matter, and did so. The President 
heard the case and felt the force of the appeal. The 
result was the issuing of an order allowing any State 
to remove its sick and wounded North, thus doing away 
with the objection raised by the Secretary of War. 
Armed with this order Governor Morton hastened 
home and immediately perfected arrangements for ade 
quate transportation and the removal of Indiana s sick 
and wounded soldiers to more comfortable quarters. 

On the 21st of April, 1862, just before the battle of 
Corinth, Governor Morton telegraphed the Secretary 
of War as follows : 

" That a great battle is impending at Corinth, is evident. 
Before additional surgical aid can reach the field from any 
quarter, five or six days will elapse. Meanwhile the wounded 
must suffer immensely. So it was at Donelson and Pitts- 


burg. Indiana has at least twenty-four regiments before the 
enemy. I propose to send at once to each of them two addi 
tional surgeons, and respectfully request authority from you 
to do so. I regard this as an absolute necessity." 

Heretofore each regiment had been allowed only one 
surgeon and one assistant. Experience had shown this 
medical force to be entirely inadequate, especially dur 
ing or immediately after a severe battle. This was 
especially the case after the battles of Fort Donelson 
and Shiloh, and now as another one was impending, 
Governor Morton proposed to make better provision, 
at least for the Indiana soldiers. The Secretary of 
War replied on the same day : " You have authority to 
send to the Indiana regiments in the field in Tennessee 
two additional assistant surgeons, agreeably to your re 
quest." Accordingly the requisite number of surgeons 
were immediately selected and dispatched to the front, 
with instructions to remain as long as their services 
were required. This action of Governor Morton was 
received with great approbation by the army, and the 
attention of Congress having been called to it, an act 
was passed (approved July 2, 1862), which provided : 
" That instead of one assistant surgeon/ as provided 
by the second section of the Act of July 22, 1861, each 
regiment of volunteers in the service of th^ United 
States shall have two assistant surgeons." /his hu 
manitarian reform was the direct result of Governor 
Morton s efforts. 

But vast as his labors were, growing out of the war 


he still had time to devote to the administration of the 
State s civil affairs and the development of her material 
interests. He had a great deal of state pride, and next 
to the preservation of the Union the advancement of 
Indiana lay nearest his heart. A born Indianian, he 
loved devotedly the State of his birth and sought by 
every means to elevate her honor, uphold her integrity 
and credit, and foster her material interests. In his 
messages and other official papers he frequently dwelt 
upon the vast agricultural and mineral resources of the 
State, her extensive system of railways, and the general 
advantages afforded to those seeking homes in the West. 
He caused to be prepared an elaborate document setting 
forth the attractions of the State, entitled " Indiana as a 
Home for Emigrants," very large editions of which in 
English and German were circulated in this country 
and in Europe. 

The financial discredit sustained by the State in con 
sequence of the gigantic and unfortunate internal im 
provement schemes of 183G-7 was the cause of deep 
humiliation to him, the effects being largely felt when 
he assumed the office of governor. In consequence of 
former embarrassments, the impression prevailed that 
the State was hopelessly bankrupt ; her financial char 
acter abroad was tarnished, and the current of emigra 
tion was turned aside in great part, or swept over to 
the States and Territories farther West. Governor 
Morton determined to disabuse the public mind of these 
impressions and create a healthy public sentiment in 
favor of the financial integrity, patriotism, and enter 


prise of our people. The events of the war and the 
remarkable executive ability displayed by him attracted 
the attention of the whole country ; the State s credit 
at once rose to a high stand-point, and two million dol 
lars of war loan bonds were negotiated without trouble 
and on very favorable terms. 

The successful establishment of a Home for Dis 
abled Soldiers, and afterwards a Home for Soldiers 
Orphans, upon his recommendation and plans, added in 
no small degree to the glory of Indiana s war record. 
In recommending in his last message the erection of a 
state monument in honor of all her brave soldiers who 
perished in the war, he was actuated by the same 
tender appreciation and solicitude for their memories 
which distinguished his whole gubernatorial service. 

His careful guardianship of the Common School 
Fund (the largest of any State in the Union), the es 
tablishment. of a State Normal School, an Agricultural 
College, and a Reform School for Juvenile Offenders, 
as well as the encouragement he gave to the various 
colleges of the State, attest his deep interest in the 
cause of popular education. 

Thus while giving the general government a power 
ful support in the work of putting down the rebellion, 
arid while looking vigilantly after the interests of In 
diana soldiers in the field, he was still able to admin 
ister the domestic affairs of the State with unequaled 
ability and to give her a much higher rank in the 
sisterhood of States than she had ever held before. 



THE foregoing pages present but a very imperfect 
outline of Governor Morton s services to the State and 
nation during the war. With an energy that never 
tired and a constitution that had as yet shown no signs 
of failing, he devoted every power of his head and 
heart to the great cause of sustaining the government, 
preserving the honor of the State and looking after the 
welfare of her soldiers. During all these dark years he 
was a trusted friend and counselor of President Lin 
coln and Secretary Stanton, two men who like himself 
seemed to have been raised up by Providence to fulfill 
an especial mission. The loyal masses of Indiana had 
learned to love and trust him, and at the expiration of 
his first term as governor no other person was thought 
of by Republicans for the succession. His vigorous and 
brilliant administration during his first term had given 
the State more prominence than it had ever enjoyed 
before, elevated its credit in financial circles, and con 
verted the name of " Hoosier " from a term of ridicule 
into one of honor. Therefore when the Republican 
Convention met at Indianapolis, on the 22d of Febru 
ary, 1864, to nominate a state ticket, he was unani- 


mously nominated for reelection. In accepting the nom 
ination he made one of the ablest speeches of his life, 
reviewing his whole administration as governor, set 
ting forth the action of the disloyal Legislature of 
1863, the embarrassment which it had caused him, and 
the measures he had taken to uphold the honor and 
preserve the peace of the State, pointing out the peril 
of the government, the duty of the times, and, in short, 
completely covering the situation. Of course the main 
question in the ensuing election was whether Indiana 
would remain true to the Republican party and the 
Union, but scarcely secondary to this was the question 
whether the Legislature to be chosen would indorse 
Governor Morton s administration and approve the 
various measures he had adopted to meet emergencies 
forced upon him by the disloyal Democracy. All his 
acts had been done in the belief that a Legislature 
would be elected in 1864 which would approve them, 
and now the time had come for an appeal to the peo 
ple. His opponent for the governorship was Hon. 
Joseph E. McDonald. Friends of both parties arranged 
for a joint canvass of the State, and the opening debate 
was appointed to take place at Laporte. The char 
acter of the occasion and the importance of the issues 
involved drew an immense concourse of people, the 
crowd being estimated at not less than twenty thousand. 
His competitor was ten years his senior, a skillful de 
bater and strong man. Though politically opposed they 
were personal friends, and the contest between them 
was conducted in a fair and dignified manner. Gov- 


eruor Morton s opening speech at Laporte was pro 
nounced by all who heard it a great and convincing 
one. Fully realizing the importance of the interests at 
stake, he rose to the height of the occasion and the 
argument. The result of the opening debate was a de 
cided victory for Morton, and from that moment his 
friends confidently predicted his election. The end 
showed that their confidence was well founded. After 
a thorough and exhaustive campaign, he was reflected 
governor by over 20,000 majority and the Republicans 
gained a majority in the Legislature. It was the grand 
est popular triumph ever achieved in the State. Gov 
ernor Morton entered upon his second term with un 
abated zeal and ardor. He was now in his forty-second 
year and in the prime of physical and mental strength. 
The vast responsibilities and labors of the last five 
years had developed his character to its fullest propor 
tions. Experience had shown him to be equal to every 
emergency, and success had given him a confidence 
which was almost irresistible in itself. His energy, 
patriotism, executive ability, and fertility of resources 
were a theme of general comment. His services to the 
State and nation were known and honored everywhere. 
His message to the new Legislature set forth in detail 
all his public acts of the last two years and was a com 
plete exposition of state affairs. At his request the 
Legislature appointed a joint committee to examine the 
vouchers for receipts and payments of money by the 
Governor during the last two years. Their report was 
a complete vindication of his financial administration 


and is a lasting tribute to his integrity. During a time 
of civil war and great excitement, he raised by his per 
sonal efforts, and disbursed on his personal check, all 
the money used by the state government during a pe 
riod of nearly two years, without the loss or misappro 
priation of a dollar. 

On the morning of the 15th of April, 1865, Presi 
dent Lincoln died from a wound inflicted by the hand 
of an assassin the night before. The blow fell with 
crushing weight upon the whole country, and amid a 
nation of mourners no man felt it more keenly than 
Governor Morton, the trusted friend, counselor, and 
colaborer of the martyred President. He issued a 
proclamation convening the citizens of Indianapolis in 
the State House Square " to give expression to their 
sentiments over this great national calamity," and then 
hastened to Washington to join in paying the last sad 
honors to his murdered friend. He, with others, ac 
companied the President s remains to their final rest 
ing-place ; and, at his request, it was decided to have 
them rest for a day at Indianapolis, .where thousands 
upon thousands of citizens and soldiers had the melan 
choly pleasure of viewing them. 

In April, 1865, also came the surrender of Lee and 
the end of the war. Shortly after this the returning 
troops of Indiana began to arrive at Indianapolis, and 
the Governor was kept almost as busy receiving and 
welcoming as he had been a few years before in arm 
ing and equipping them. In each case the labor was 
to him a sacred duty. Every regiment and battery as 


it arrived from the field of its victories was welcomed 
with fitting ceremony, treated to a sumptuous dinner, 
and addressed by the Governor in person, who thanked 
them in the name of a rescued government and a 
grateful people. These duties, though of a very pleas 
ing nature, were none the less a severe draft on his 
mental and physical energies, while the regular duties 
of his office occupied a large share of his time and at 

During the last four years he had performed an in 
credible amount of labor. One familiar with the facts 
writes : " During the winter of 1865 Governor Morton 
was the most ubiquitous man in the United States. 
First at Washington, in council with the President ; 
then at the front, surveying with his own eye the bat 
tle-field ; moving in person through the hospitals, as 
certaining the wants of the sick and wounded ; super 
vising the operations of his numerous agents ; then at 
home, directing sanitary movements, appointing extra 
surgeons and sending them to the field, projecting new 
plans for the relief of dependent women and children, 
attending personally to all the details of the business of 
his office." Thus every power of body and mind had 
been taxed to the utmost. While the strain lasted no 
injurious effect was visible, but the period was ap 
proaching when he was to pay the penalty of this tre 
mendous overwork. With the close of the war and 
the diminished drafts upon his nervous energies there 
came a season of reaction. During the summer of 
1865 he was troubled and somewhat alarmed by a feel- 


ing of mental and physical sluggishness, a sort of apa 
thy which seemed to affect both mind and body. This 
tvas nature s protest and warning. Perhaps if it had 
been duly heeded at the time, the impending shock 
might have been averted, but of this we cannot cer 
tainly know. 

One morning he woke with both his legs paralyzed 
in the lower extremities. This was nature s penalty, 
and the sacrifice which Governor Morton made upon 
the altar of patriotism. His paralysis was as clearly 
due to his overwork during the war as the death of 
any soldier in battle was to the bullet that pierced his 
heart. He was immediately placed under medical 
treatment, and after a few months, little or no benefit 
being gained, he was advised to visit Europe and place 
himself in the hands of the eminent physician at Paris 
who had treated and cured Charles Sumner. Before 
acting on this advice, however, it was deemed best to 
anticipate the regular meeting of the Legislature, and 
that body was accordingly convened in extra session on 
the 14th of November. Governor Morton s message 
on this occasion was able and comprehensive, touching 
on every current matter of state policy and making im 
portant recommendations. After some comments on 
national affairs he said in conclusion : 

" The war has established upon imperishable foundations 
the great fundamental truth of the unity and indivisibility 
of the nation. We are many States but one people, having 
one undivided sovereignty, one flag, and one common destiny. 
It has also established, to be confessed by all the world, the 


exalted character of the American soldier, his matchless 
valor, his self-sacrificing patriotism, his capacity to endure 
fatigues and hardships, and his humanity, which, in the midst 
of carnage, has wreathed his victorious achievements with a 
brighter glory. He has taught the world a lesson before 
which it stands in amazement, how, when the storm of battle 
had passed, he could lay aside his arms, put off the habili 
ments of war, and return with cheerfulness to the gentle 
pursuits of peace, and show how the bravest of soldiers 
could become the best of citizens. To the army and navy, 
under the favor of Providence, we owe the preservation of 
our country, and the fact that we have to-day a place, and 
the proudest place, among the nations. Let it not be said 
of us, as it was said in olden time, that Republics are un 
grateful. Let us honor the dead, cherish the living, and 
preserve in immortal memory the deeds and virtues of all, as 
an inspiration for countless generations to come." 

The scene in the hall of the House of Representa 
tives on the occasion of his formal leave-takm** was 


impressive and affecting. The man who had guided 
the ship of state through stormiest seas, battling for 
the national government with one hand and with the 
other throttling domestic rebellion, bringing almost 
superhuman energy to the performance of almost super 
human tasks, was about to leave his native land to seek 
in a foreign one the restoration of a constitution sacri 
ficed and shattered in the cause of his country. At 
this moment party jealousies and party strifes were for 
gotten and the better instincts of men were permitted 
their natural action. Resolutions complimenting the 
Governor in the highest terms and expressing deep 
sympathy with him in his affliction, were drawn up by 


Hon. Joseph E. McDonald and Hon. Samuel Buskirk, 
both political opponents, and were adopted by the 
General Assembly without a dissenting voice. Of this 
scene it has been written : " The hatchet of political 
warfare was buried, and a melancholy regret, -a heart 
felt sorrow, pervaded the souls of all present. Not 
until now had many realized the worth of Governor 
Morton, the wisdom of his counsel, the importance of 
his services, the magnitude of his heart. The smoke of 
the war had obscured the appreciative vision of numbers 
of his friends, while it completely blinded his enemies 
to all his efficiency as an executive, all his nobleness 
as a man. But now that he was about to leave, per 
haps forever, the colleagues to whom he had been so 
faithful, the opponents he had fought so nobly, the 
State he had saved from financial thralldom and the 
meshes of treason the State whose name he had made 
the synonym of glory the people he had so devotedly 
served, the indifference of friends, the prejudice of ene 
mies gave place to a profound realization of his talents, 
his patriotism, his labor." 

Shortly after this, early in December, 1865, Governor 
Morton sailed from New York accompanied by his wife, 
one son and a friend, and proceeded with as little delay 
as possible to Paris. He remained in that city under 
medical treatment about six weeks; then, hoping to get 
some benefit by change of climate, he traveled through 
portions of Italy and Switzerland. He received, how 
ever, little or no benefit either from treatment or travel, 
and returned home in March, 1866. 



DURING Governor Morton s absence in Europe the 
duties of the office "had been ably performed by Lieu 
tenant-governor Conrad Baker. Upon the return oi 
the former he at once resumed his interest in public 
affairs. A state election was to take place in the fall 
of the year (1866), and the controversy then going on 
between President Johnson and the Republican party 
made the Democracy very hopeful of success. State of 
ficers and a state legislature were to be chosen. Upon 
the latter would devolve the duty of electing a United 
States senator, and it was taken by common consent 
among Republicans that if they carried the State 
Governor Morton was to be elected to this position. 
The Republican campaign opened at Indianapolis on 
the 20th of June, Governor Morton being announced 
as the speaker. The largest hall in the city was 
densely crowded with an audience anxious to see and 
hear him once more. He spoke sitting, the first time 
he had so addressed an Indiana audience. It was 
a painful reminder of his physical infirmity, but his 
mind was never more active and vigorous. His speech 
on this occasion was powerful and eloquent. The sur- 


roundings were suggestive of stirring memories. He 
had often spoken from the same platform during the 
war, appealing to the people, calling for volunteers, 
and exhorting the citizens of the State to stand by and 
support the government. Now the war was over, and 
the question was presented, whether the fruits of vic 
tory should be preserved or surrendered. His speech 
consisted of a vindication of the course of the Repub 
lican party and an arraignment of the Democracy. 
The latter portion of it was terribly severe, and is still 
well remembered by those who heard it. He dwelt 
upon the course of the Democracy during the war, and 
recalled their countless acts of disloyalty. He hurled 
facts and history at them with fatal precision and effect. 
Nearly every sentence was received with cheers by the 
audience, and the applause seemed to inspire the 
speaker. During his absence in Europe he had been 
outrageously abused by a, portion of the Democratic 
press and he embraced this opportunity to square ac 
counts with the party to date. Thus, with a fierceness 
of invective seldom equaled, he said of the leaders of 
the party in Indiana at that time : 

" The leaders who are now managing the Democratic 
party in this State are the men who, at the regular session 
of the Legislature in 1861, declared that if an army went 
from Indiana to assist in putting down the then approaching 
rebellion it must first pass over their dead bodies. They 
are the men who, in the Democratic Convention on the 8th 
of January, 1862, gave aid and comfort to the rebellion, by 
resolving that the South had been provoked and driven into 
the contest by the unconstitutional and wicked aggressions 


of the people of the North. They are the men who in 
speeches and resolutions proclaimed that Southern defeats 
gave them no joy, and Northern disasters no sorrows. 
They are the men who exerted their influence to prevent 
their Democratic friends from going into the army, and who, 
by their incessant and venomous slanders against the gov 
ernment, checked the spirit of volunteering, and made draft 
ing a necessity. And when the draft had thus been forced 
upon the country, their wretched subordinates, inspired by 
their devilish teachings, endeavored in many places by force 
of arms and the murder of enrolling officers to prevent its 
execution. They are the men who corresponded with the 
rebel leaders in the South, giving them full information of 
our condition, and assuring them that a revolution in public 
opinion was at hand, and that they had but to persevere a 
few months longer and the national government would fall 
to pieces of its own weight. They are the men who in tho 
Legislature of 1863 attempted to overturn the state govern 
ment and establish a legislative revolution by seizino- the 
military power of the State and transferring it into the 
hands of four state officers, three of whom were members 
of the treasonable society known as the Sons of Liberty. 
They are the men who, having failed to overturn the state 
government by seizing the military power, determined to 
defeat its operations and bring about anarchy, by locking 
up the public treasure and thus withholding the money nec 
essary to carry on the government. They are the men who 
introduced and organized in this State that dangerous and 
widespread conspiracy first known as the Knights of the 
Golden Circle, and afterwards as the * Sons of Liberty, 
which had for its purpose the overthrow of the state and 
national governments. Not all of them, it is true, belonged 
formerly to this infamous order, but such as stood on the 
outside had knowledge of its existence, purposes, and plans, 
and carefully concealing their knowledge were ready to ac- 


cept its work. To accomplish the hellish work of this con 
spiracy military officers were appointed, military organiza 
tions created, arms and ammunition purchased in immense 
quantities and -smuggled into the State, correspondence 
opened with rebel commanders, and military combinations 
agreed upon, rebel officers and agents introduced into the 
capital and concealed in hotels and boarding-houses, and it 
was deliberately planned and agreed that upon a day fixed 
they would suddenly uprise and murder the executive, seize 
the arsenal and its arms and ammunition, and releasing 
9,000 rebel prisoners in Camp Morton, put arms into their 
hands, and with their combined forces effect a military and 
bloody revolution in the State. They are the men who, in 
the Legislature of Indiana, bitterly opposed and denounced 
every effort to confer the right of suffrage upon soldiers in 
the field who could not come home to vote. They are the 
men who wrote letters to soldiers in the army, urging them 
to desert, and assuring them of support and protection if 
they did. They are the men who labored with devilish zeal 
to destroy the ability of the government to carry on the war 
by depreciating its financial credit. They assured the 
people that greenbacks would die on their hands, and 
warned them solemnly against government bonds, as a 
wicked device to rob them of their money. They are the 
men who refused to contribute to the Sanitary Commission 
for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers, upon the lying 
and hypocritical pretense that the contributions were con 
sumed by the officers of the army. They are the men who 
excused themselves from contributing for the relief of sol 
diers families at home by the infamous slander that they 
were living better than they had ever done, and by foul im 
putations on the chastity of soldiers wives. They are the 
men who declared in speeches, resolutions, and by their 
votes in Congress, that not another man nor another dollar 
should be voted to carry on a cruel war against their South 
ern brethren." 


Having thus faithfully photographed the party and 
its leaders he completed the climax by saying : 

" And this party, composed of the men and elements I have 
described, in defiance of truth and decency, asserts itself as 
the special champion of the Constitution and the Union, 
which but a short sixteen months ago it was in arms to de 
stroy; and proclaims to an astonished world that the onjy 
effect of vanquishing armed rebels in the field is to return 
them to seats in Congress, and to restore them to political 
power. Having failed to destroy the Constitution by force, 
they seek to do it by construction, and assume to have made 
the remarkable discoveiy that rebels who fought to destroy 
the Constitution were its true friends, and that the men who 
shed their blood and gave their substance to preserve it 
were its only enemies." 

He then passed to other topics, contrasting the poli 
cies of the Republican and Democratic parties during 
and since the war and summing up the salient points of 
the political situation with his usual comprehensiveness 
and ability. The speech was regarded by the Republic 
ans of Indiana and other States as a powerful campaign 
document, and nearly three million copies of it were 
circulated in different States of the Union. 

During the campaign which followed Governor Mor 
ton spoke at various points in the State, and never with 
greater power or effect. The election resulted in a 
sweeping Republican victory. The Legislature being 
largely Republican elected him United States senator to 
succeed Senator Lane without a single dissenting voice 
in the party. It was universally conceded by Republic 
ans that Governor Morton was the man for the position, 


and his election was unanimous. His first term was 
for six years from March 4, 1867. When he took his 
seat in the Senate that body contained many able and 
experienced men. He had little or no experience as a 
legislator, but his large knowledge of public affairs, and 
his varied experience as governor of Indiana, left noth 
ing to be desired in this direction. His political record 
and services were known in that body as they were 
throughout the nation, and he was at once welcomed 
into the fullest political confidence by the older Repub 
lican senators. 



GOVERNOR MORTON was twice elected to the United 
States Senate by the Republicans of Indiana, his first 
term beginning March 4, 1867, and his second March 
4, 1873. It would be impossible within the limits of 
this sketch to present anything like a complete history 
of his senatorial services, and only brief reference can 
be made to some of the leading features. Upon his 
first entrance to the Senate, in making up the standing 
committees he was accorded three important places, 
chairman of the Committee on Manufactures and mem 
ber of the Committee on Foreign Relations and that 
on Military Affairs. During his ten years of service 
he filled various other important positions and was at 
all times one of the most active and laborious members 
of the body. To say that he was one of the most able 
and influential is equally a matter of current history. 
It is probably safe to say that during his term of ser 
vice he was prominently identified with a greater num 
ber of important measures than any other senator of 
that period, if not of any period in the history of the 
government. Some of these may be briefly touched 


The great question before Congress and the coun 
try when Senator Morton entered the Senate was that 
of the reconstruction of the Southern States. The con 
test between President Johnson and Congress had at 
tracted universal attention to the subject, and its in 
trinsic importance made it the theme of general com 
ment and discussion. The great question was how far 
the government could safely go in restoring the late 
rebels to their political rights, and what measures were 
necessary to secure republican government to the 
Southern States, and political equality, together with 
safety and protection, to all classes of people. On this 
question, and all those growing out of it, Senator Mor 
ton had well settled views. He held that treason was 
a crime, and that those who had engaged in it should 
be made to realize the fact. He thought that men who 
had but just laid down their arms after a four years 
struggle to destroy the government ought not to be 
trusted with the absolute control of the Southern 
States without the exaction of guarantees in the inter 
ests of liberty. He desired to accord them all civil 
and political rights as soon as it was safe to do so, but 
he wished also to have the future peace and security of 
the Union " so imbedded in the imperishable bulwarks 
of the Constitution that the waves of secession might 


dash against it in vain." His first speech in the Sen- 
.ite was upon this subject, January 24, 1868. He had 
not intended to speak at that time and had made no 
special preparation, but Senator Doolittle of Wisconsin 
having attacked the congressional policy of reconstruc- 


tion, Senator Morton replied. At the beginning of his 
speech he thus outlined the issue before the country : 

" The issue here to-day is the same which prevails 
throughout the country, which will be the issue of this can 
vass, and perhaps for years to come. It is between two 
paramount ideas, each struggling for the supremacy. One 
is, that the war to suppress the rebellion was right and just 
on our part; that the rebels forfeited their civil and political 
rights, and can only be restored to them upon such condi 
tions as the nation may prescribe for its future safety and 
prosperity. The other idea is, that the rebellion was not 
sinful but was right; that those engaged in it forfeited no 
rights, civil or political, and have a right to take charge of 
their state governments, and be restored to their represen 
tation in Congress, just as if there were no rebellion and 
nothing had occurred. The immediate issue before the 
Senate now is between the existing state governments es 
tablished under the policy of the President of the United 
States in the rebel States and the plan of reconstruction 
presented by Congress." 

He then proceeded to demonstrate, first, that when 
the war closed the rebel States were without state gov 
ernments of any kind, since the state governments ex 
isting at the beginning of the war had been overturned 
by the rebels, and those erected by the rebels had been 
overturned by our armies, leaving the Southern States 
without any government whatever. Second, quoting 
that clause of the Constitution which provides that " the 
United States shall guarantee to every State in this 
Union a republican form of government," he proved, 
conclusively, that Congress alone had the right to exer 
cise that power, and that it must be done by -a legisla- 


tive act. He then considered the powers of Congress 
in the execution of the guarantee, how it should be 
executed, and what means might be employed for this 
purpose. This branch of the subject was exhaustively 
treated, and the conclusion reached that Congress not 
only had the power, but was in duty bound, to pre 
scribe such a plan of reconstruction as would insure 
justice, security, and equal rights to all classes in the 
South. This could only be done by giving the colored 
race the right of suffrage. After having shown the 
fallacy of President Johnson s plan of reconstruction 
and the dangerous results which it involved, he con 

" Sir, when Congress entered upon this work, it had be 
come apparent to all men that loyal republican state govern 
ments, such as are required by the Constitution, could not 
be erected and maintained upon the basis of the white popu 
lation. We had tried them. Congress had attempted the 
work of reconstruction through the fourteenth constitutional 
amendment, by leaving the suffrage with the white men, 
and by leaving with the white people of the South the ques 
tion as to when the colored people should exercise the right 
of suffrage, if ever ; but when it was found that those white 
men were as rebellious as ever ; when it was found that they 
persecuted the loyal men, both white and black, in their 
midst; when it was found that Northern men who had gone 
down there were driven out by social tyranny, by a thou 
sand annoyances, by the insecurity of life and property, 
then it became apparent to all men of intelligence that re 
construction could not take place upon the basis of the white 
population, and something else must be done. Now, sir, 
what was there left to do ? Either we must hold these peo 
ple continually by military power, or we must use such 


machinery on such a new basis as would enable loyal repub 
lican governments to be raised up ; and in the last result I 
will say Congress waited long, the nation waited long, ex 
perience had to come to the rescue of reason before the thing 
was done in the last resort, and, as the last thing to be 
done, Congress determined to dig through all the rubbish 
dig through the soil and the shifting sands, and go down to 
the eternal rock, and there, upon the basis of the everlasting 
principle of equal and exact justice to all men, we have 
planted the column of reconstruction ; and, sir, it will arise 
slowly, but surely, and the gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it. 

Senator Doolittle had charged Senator Morton with 
inconsistency on the question of negro suffrage. On 
this point the latter said : 

" Why, sir, let me frankly say to my friend from Wis 
consin, that I approached universal colored suffrage in the 
South reluctantly. Not because I adhered to the miserable 
dogma that this was the white man s government, but be 
cause I entertained fears about at once intrusting a large 
body of men just from slavery, to whom education had been 
denied by law, to whom the marriage relation had been de 
nied, who had been made the most abject slaves, with politi 
cal power. And as the senator has referred to a speech 
which I made in Indiana in 1865, allow me to show the 
principle which then actuated me, for in that speech I said : 
4 In regard to the question of admitting the freedmen of the 
Southern States to vote, while I admit the equal rights of all 
men, and that in time all men will have the right to vote, 
without distinction of color or race, I yet believe that in 
the case of four millions of slaves, just freed from bondage, 
there should be a period of probation and preparation before 
they are brought to the exercise of political power. Such 
was my feeling at that time, for it had not then been deter- 


mined by the bloody experience of the last two years that 
we could not reconstruct upon the basis of the white popula 
tion, and such was the opinion of a great majority of the 

people of the North I confess (and I do it without 

shame) that I have been educated by the great events of the 
war. The American people have been educated rapidly; 
and the man who says he has learned nothing, that he 
stands now where he did six years ago, is like an ancient 
mile-post by the side of a deserted highway." 

Having further demonstrated the utter folly of try 
ing to establish the Southern state governments on the 
basis of white suffrage alone, he concluded : 

* The column of reconstruction has risen slowly. It has 
not been hewn from a single stone. It is composed of many 
blocks, painfully laid up and put together, and cemented by 
the tears and blood of the nation. Sir, we have done noth 
ing arbitrarily. We have done nothing for punishment 
aye, too little for punishment. Justice has not had her de 
mand. Not a man has yet been executed for this great trea 
son. The arch-fiend himself is now at liberty upon bail. 
No man is to be punished; and now while punishment has 
gone by, as we all know, we are insisting dnly upon security 
for the future. We are simply asking that the evil spirits 
who brought this war upon us shall not again come into power 
during this generation, again to bring upon us rebellion and 
calamity. We are simply asking for those securities that we 
deem necessary for our peace and the peace of our posterity." 

The meagre outline here presented furnishes but a 
faint conception of the speech. It was universally con- 
eded to be a masterly presentation of the subject, and 
it placed Senator Morton at once in the foremost rank 
of debaters in the Senate. Considering his incomplete 
preparation and the circumstances of its delivery, he 


himself regarded it as one of the best speeches he ever 
made. Mr. Barnes, the congressional historian, pro 
nounced it " one of the most memorable and effective 
speeches ever delivered in the United States Senate," 
and the venerable Thaddeus Stevens declared that it 
was the first successful attempt to defend the recon 
struction policy of Congress. The national executive 
committee had it published as a campaign document 
and distributed two million copies of it during the en 
suing presidential campaign. It was the key-note of 
Senator Morton s whole course of action towards the 
lately rebellious States. He was always ready to wel 
come an honest return to allegiance, and accord the 
Southern States and people an equal place in the Union 
if they would give evidence of having heartily accepted 
the results of the war and the principles of liberty, law, 
and justice. He was willing to forgive the past but 
he wanted guarantees for the future. In his opening 
speech of the presidential campaign of 1876, made at 
Indianapolis, August 10th of that year, he said : " Let me 
say to the men of the South, there is but one highway 
to reconciliation, and that is open, straight, and free ; 
and over its portal are inscribed these words : * Equal 
rights to all ; to all equal protection of the laws. If the 
Southern people will walk in that highway they will 
arrive at the temple of peace and find unbroken rest." 
In another speech, the opening one of a political cam 
paign in Ohio, he said : " While I was willing to go to 
the limits of constitutional power to establish the au 
thority of the government in the South, to give equal 


civil and political rights to all without regard to race or 
color, to suppress disorder and to protect life, liberty, 
and property, and will do so again if necessary, I am 
from my heart anxious for the complete restoration of 
the South, the upbuilding of her prosperity, and the re 
union of all the States in sentiments of love to each 
other and devotion to our common country." Like 
sentiments are found in most of his speeches, and they 
are those of a statesman and patriot, not of a section- 



To no one person, living or dead, is the credit for 
the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the Con 
stitution so largely due as to Senator Morton. The 
thirteenth and fourteenth amendments had both been 
adopted before he entered the Senate, but he had been 
actively instrumental in securing their ratification in 
Indiana. The congressional policy of reconstruction con 
templated conferring the voting franchise on the ne 
groes of the South as a measure at once of justice to 
them and protection to the Union. This was the object 
of the fifteenth amendment, the discussion of which 
occupied a large share of attention during the third 
session of the Fortieth Congress, and the final ratifica 
tion of which was mainly due to Senator Morton s per 
sistence of purpose and boldness of action. 

After an exhaustive debate upon the subject and an 
all night session, the report of the Senate committee, 
recommending the adoption of the amendment, was 
agreed to early in the morning. Senator Morton had 
championed the measure from the beginning, and had 
been ably seconded by other Republican senators. Sen 
ator Sumner had opposed it on the double ground, 


first, that it virtually conceded that Congress had not 
the power to regulate suffrage in the States by legisla 
tion ; and second, that even if adopted by Congress, the 
amendment would not be ratified by a sufficient number 
of States to make it operative. Three fourths of the 
States (twenty-eight) were required, and to make this 
number Indiana, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, and Geor 
gia would be required in addition to those States cer 
tain to ratify. Senator Sumner was confident that the 
ratification of these States could not be secured. Sen 
ator Morton, on the other hand, believed it could be. 
At all events, he maintained that the amendment was 
right in itself, necessary to the peace and security of 
the Union, and that it should be adopted by Congress 
and the question of ratification be left to the future. 
Enough senators agreed with him to secure the pas 
sage of the amendment and it was adopted, the Demo 
crats all voting against it, and Senator Sumner not vot 
ing at all. The Indiana Legislature was in session at 
the time, the Republicans having a majority in each 
branch, but not a quorum (two thirds) in the House. 
To prevent the ratification of the amendment by the 
House, therefore, the Democratic members resigned in 
a body, thus breaking a quorum. This was treated as 
the breaking up of the Legislature, and the members 
of both Houses dispersed to their homes. Governor 
Baker, however, ordered new elections in the counties 
from which these members had resigned, and in April, 
18G9, convened the Legislature in extra session. Near 
the close of the session, the Republicans having an- 


nounced their purpose of ratifying the amendment, the 
Democrats again resigned to break a quorum. In this, 
however, they were to be defeated. Senator Morton 
returned home on the very morning the resignations 
were handed in, and, learning what had been done, im 
mediately sent word to the Republican members not to 
adjourn, but to .meet him that night in consultation at 
the supreme court room. On assembling, he addressed 
them at length, taking the ground that a quorum of the 
House was not broken by a resignation of more than 
one third of the members ; that the constitutional pro 
vision requiring two thirds of the members of each 
House to constitute a quorum meant two thirds of the 
actual members, and that when a member resigned, he 
was no longer a member, and could not be counted as 
such, and that two thirds of the remaining members 
constituted a quorum. His argument was conclusive of 
the question, and the next morning both Houses of the 
Legislature met and ratified the amendment. Their 
proceedings were duly certified to the Secretary of 
State at Washington, and Indiana was counted as hav 
ing ratified the amendment. The Democrats who re 
signed were equally surprised and disgusted at this turn 
of affairs. The next Legislature (the Democrats being 
in a majority) passed a joint resolution declaring the 
" pretended " ratification " null and void," and " with 
drawing and rescinding all action, perfect and imperfect, 
on the part of this State, purporting to assent to and 
ratify said proposed fifteenth amendment." Their pro 
test, however, amounted to nothing, and the ratification 
held good. 


The means by which he obtained the ratification of 
three more States illustrates his fertility of resources 
and his eminent qualities of leadership. Pending the 
adoption of the amendment a bill was introduced in 
the House providing for the reconstruction of Virginia, 
Texas, and Mississippi. Here was another opportunity, 
and Senator Morton seized it. When the bill reached 
the Senate, he submitted as an amendment an additional 
section, providing that before these States should be 
admitted to representation in Congress they should 
ratify the proposed fifteenth amendment. The bill 
and amendment were referred to the Judiciary Com 
mittee, which reported adversely to the amendment. 
A debate ensued lasting three days, in which Senator 
Trumbull, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, led in 
support of the committee s report, and Senator Morton 
in support of his amendment. This debate brought 
Senator Morton again prominently before the Senate 
and the country. The importance of the subject, and 
the ability with which the discussion was conducted, 
caused it to be regarded with unusual interest. At its 
conclusion a vote was taken and Senator Morton was 
sustained. His amendment passed the Senate and sub 
sequently the House, and thus the ratification of Vir 
ginia, Texas, and Mississippi was secured. 

There remained but one more obstinate State to 
secure, and Senator Morton was mainly instrumental 
in accomplishing that. Georgia had been reconstructed 
in 1868, but had subsequently violated faith with the 
government by expelling all the colored members of 


the Legislature, on the ground that they were not 
eligible to hold office. In December, 1869, therefore, 
Senator Morton introduced a bill instructing the military 
commandant to reconvene the Georgia Legislature, in 
cluding the colored members elect, and authorizing it 
thus convened to proceed to the work of reconstruction 
by the election of two United States senators, who 
should become entitled to their seats as soon as the 
Legislature should ratify the fifteenth amendment. 
The Judiciary Committee, as before, took exception to 
the last provision, and reported against it. Another 
debate ensued, similar in spirit to the former, and con 
ducted with equal ability. As before, however, Sena 
tor Morton was successful, his bill passing the Senate 
in its original shape by seven majority. Thus was 
secured the ratification of the last of the five States 
which, a year previously, Senator Sumner had declared 
could not be secured, and the fifteenth amendment 
became a part of the Constitution. The ratification of 
that noble and beneficent measure might, in time, have 
been secured by other means, but it stands to-day a 
grand and perpetual monument of Senator Morton s 
persistency of purpose, fertility of resources, and un 
flinching devotion to the cause of justice. His numer 
ous speeches in favor of the amendment furnish the 
strongest arguments to be found on that side, while the 
facts here adduced show that its final ratification was 
in great measure due to his bold and adroit leadership. 

He led in the great debates on the Ku-Klux outrages 


in the South, on the amnesty question, the Louisiana 
case, the Mississippi election, and others which have 
passed into political history. Upon these and all kin 
dred questions he held firmly to his conviction that 
treason was a crime, that the supremacy of the Con 
stitution must be enforced, the rights of the weak pro 
tected, political toleration guaranteed, and the equality 
of all men before the law made a living fact instead 
of a barren ideality. He was never for a single mo 
ment actuated by hatred of the South, but he was inex 
orable in his demand that the laws should be enforced 
and that the fruits of the war should not be weakly 
surrendered or criminally thrown away. His political 
defamers took pleasure in calling him " the apostle of 
hate," etc., but the impartial historian will write that 
his whole course towards the States and people of the 
South was actuated by praiseworthy and patriotic mo 
tives. In one of his speeches in the Senate he said : 
" Sir, I want peace in the South ; I want it as earnestly 
as any man can ; but I want peace in the South on 
correct principles. I am not willing to purchase peace 
by conceding that they were right and that we were 
wrong." This was the key-note of all his speeches. 
He wished to base the reconstruction of the South on 
enduring principles and to rear the temple of peace, 
not on a foundation of shifting sand, but upon the solid 

He filled the difficult position of chairman of the 
Committee on Privileges and Elections with great abil- 


Jty. Thoroughly versed in the law of elections, watch- 
ful of the dignity and honor of the Senate, and careful 
of the rights of individuals, no man ever brought better 
qualifications to the consideration and settlement of dis 
puted elections than did Senator Morton. The record 
will show that he treated every question brought before 
him in a spirit of justice and entirely removed from 
partisan bias. In one instance he was the means of 
excluding an unworthy Republican claimant from the 
Senate and bringing him to merited disgrace. This 
was the case of Senator Caldwell of Kansas, who was 
charged with having bought his election to the Senate. 
As chairman of the Committee on Elections it became 
the duty of Senator Morton to investigate the case, and 
upon the evidence adduced he reported in favor of 
Caldwell s expulsion, and took high ground in favor of 
purifying the Senate. There was no question of Cald 
well s guilt, but his friends demanded that the Senate 
should simply declare his election void, instead of ex 
pelling him. Some of the ablest members of the Sen 
ate opposed Senator Morton in this matter, but he so 
pressed the corrupt senator that in order to escape the 
certainty of impending expulsion he resigned, thereby 
confessing all that had been charged and proved. 

He took a leading part in the protracted discussion 
of the Louisiana question and showed a complete mas 
tery of all its phases. Though he did not always carry 
his party with him in this matter, he always stood on 
solid ground, and the facts and arguments which he 


adduced were never answered. It is conclusive proof 
at once of his political sagacity and his mastery of the 
subject that even after his death his report on the Lou 
isiana senatorial contest was accepted as an authorita 
tive exposition of the case, and the question of Senator 
Kellogg s admission settled in accordance with princi 
ples laid down by him while living. 

As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign 
Relations he was influential in shaping the action of the 
government in regard to the Alabama claims and in 
bringing about the treaty with Great Britain under 
which they were finally settled. In this connection it 
may be stated that in October, 1870, President Grant 
tendered him the English Mission for the express pur 
pose, as was then understood, of securing his services in 
the settlement of this difficult and delicate question. 
No higher tribute could have been paid to his ability, 
character, and patriotism. The appointment was warmly 
approved by the entire Republican press of the country, 
and Senator Morton s first impulse was to accept it ; 
but upon further consideration, and especially in view 
of the fact that the Democrats had then the control of 
the Indiana Legislature and would elect a Democrat to 
the Senate if he should resign, he declined the prof 
fered honor. Upon this the President sent him the fol 

lowing : 

WASHINGTON, D. C., October 21. 
" HON. O. P. MORTON, U. S. S. : 

" Dear Sir, Your letter of the 19th inst., declining the 
English Mission, with reasons therefor, is received. I fully 


concur with you in all the reasons which you give for the 
course you find it your duty to pursue in the matter, but re 
gret that the country is not to have your valuable services 
at the English Court at this important juncture. Your 
course, however, I deem wise, and it will be highly appre 
ciated by your constituents in Indiana and throughout the 

" With assurances of my highest regards, I remain, very 
truly, your obedient servant, U. S. GRANT." 

This was but one of many marks of confidence which 
he received from President Grant, who regarded him as 
preeminently the Republican leader of the Senate and 
the main pillar of his administration. 



IN January, 1873, the Committee on Privileges and 
Elections having been instructed " to examine and re 
port upon the best and most practicable mode of elect 
ing the President and Vice-president, and providing a 
tribunal to adjust and decide all contested elections 
connected therewith," Senator Morton delivered a 
speech in the Senate in favor of abolishing the Elec 
toral College, and electing the President and Vice-presi 
dent by direct vote of the people, by districts. In the 
course of an elaborate argument of the question, he 
dwelt upon the dangers of the present system, and es 
pecially on the fact that, as now organized, there is no 
tribunal for the settlement of electoral contests. On 
this point he said : 

"There is imminent danger of revolution to the nation 
whenever the result of a presidential election is to be deter 
mined by the vote of a State in which the choice of electors 
has been irregular, or is alleged to have been carried by 
fraud or violence, and where there is no method of having 
these questions examined and settled in advance ; where the 
choice of president depends upon the election in a State 
which has been publicly characterized by fraud or violence, 
and in which one party is alleged to have triumphed and 


secured the certificates of election by chicanery or the fraud 
ulent interposition of courts If the system of electo 
ral colleges is to be continued, some means should be devised 
by which the election of these electors in the States may be 
contested so that if it has been controlled by fraud or vio 
lence, or if there be two sets of electors, each claiming the 
right to cast the vote of a State, there may be some machin 
ery or tribunal provided by which fraudulent returns could 
be set aside or corrected, and the contending claims of differ 
ent sets of electors be settled in advance of the time when 
the vote is to be finally counted, and by which the President 
of the Senate may no longer be left to exercise the danger 
ous powers that seem to be placed in his hands by the Con 
stitution, nor the two houses of Congress by the twenty- 
second joint rule. 7 

Considering that these words were spoken in Janu 
ary, 1873, they seein almost prophetic of the great 
presidential controversy and crisis of 1876, which de 
veloped itself precisely in the line of Senator Morton s 
apprehensions. By his later speeches, lectures, and 
review articles he succeeded in so thoroughly arousing 
the public mind to the necessity of a change in this 
behalf that it may now be regarded as only a question 
of time, and that not distant. 

In the presidential controversy just referred to, be 
lieving that the Republican candidates had been fairly 
elected, he stood strongly for the constitutional right 
of the President of the Senate to open and count the 
votes, and was opposed to .the creation of the electoral 
commission. Congress, however, having passed the 
bill to create the commission, he was appointed a mem 
ber thereof on the part of the Senate. In this capacity 


he acted and voted in strict accordance with previously 
expressed views. In 1873, in the speech above quoted 
from, he said: "The proposition that Congress has 
power to sit as a canvassing board upon the electoral 
votes of the States, admitting or rejecting them for 
reasons of its own, subverts the whole theory by which 

their appointment was conferred upon the States 

There is no such express power given to Congress in 
the Constitution, nor is it necessary to carry out any 
express power therein given, and its exercise would be 
in direct conflict with the known purpose of the framers 
to make the executive and legislative department as 
nearly independent of each other as possible." In ac 
cordance with these views he voted steadily against the 
right of the commission, whose powers were derived 
from Congress, to go behind the regularly certified 
electoral vote of any State. 

No American statesman of recent times labored so 
hard or so effectively as Senator Morton to inculcate 
the idea that the United States are a nation, and not a 
mere confederation of States. To his mind the former 
idea embraced the true conception of our governmental 
system, and the only one on which the Union can be 
made enduring, while the latter contained the very ele 
ments of Toakness, disintegration, and ruin. This was 
a cardinal doctrine of his whole political life. In May, 
1860, he wrote : " It cannot be too strongly impressed 
upon the public mind that we are one people, a nation, 
and not a mere coalition of sovereign and independent 


States." In a message to the Indiana Legislature in 
November, 1865, he said: "The war has established 
upon imperishable foundations the great fundamental 
truth of the unity and indivisibility of the nation. We 
are many States, but one people, having one undivided 
sovereignty, one flag, and one common destiny." In a 
lecture, delivered at Providence, Rhode Island, Novem 
ber 27, 1871, in the Franklin Lyceum course, he took 
for his theme the " National Idea," and elaborated the 
subject very thoroughly, tracing the development of 
the State Sovereignty doctrine from the resolutions of 
1798 to the breaking out of the rebellion, and showing 
how pregnant it had always been with danger to the 
country. In the course of this address Senator Mor 
ton said : " The idea that we are a nation, that we are 
one people, undivided and indivisible, should be a plank 
in the platform of every party. It should be presented 
on the banner of every party. It should be taught in 
every school, academy, and college. It should be the 
political north star, by which every political manager 
should steer his bark. It should be the central idea of 
American politics, and every child should, so to speak, 
be vaccinated with the idea, that he may be protected 
against this political distemper that has brought such 
calamity upon our country." Again, in a speech deliv 
ered in Ohio in August, 1873, he used the following 
fine figure : 

" What the sun is in the heavens, diffusing light and life 
and warmth, and by its subtle influence holding the planets 
in their orbits, and preserving the harmony of the universe, 


such is the sentiment of nationality in a people, diffusing 
life and protection in every direction, holding the faces of 
Americans always towards their home, protecting the States 
in the exercise of their just, and preserving the 
harmony of all. We must have a nation. It is a necessity 
of our political existence. We should cherish the idea that 
while the States have their rights, sacred and inviolable, 
which we should guard with untiring vigilance, never per 
mitting an encroachment upon them, and remembering that 
such encroachment is as much a violation of the Constitution 
of the United States as to encroach upon the rights of the 
general government , still bearing in mind that the States 
are but subordinate parts of one great nation that the 
nation is over all, even as God is over the universe." 

Similar quotations might be made at length. From 
nearly all his speeches and addresses delivered in or 
out of the Senate the idea crops out with ever recur 
ring force that the American people are one people, 
and this government a government of the people and 
not of States in short, that we are a nation, and not 
a confederacy. In the attempted secession of the 
Southern States and the war which followed he saw 
the natural fruits of the doctrine that the government 
is a mere confederation of sovereign States, while in 
the successful effort of the government to preserve the 
Union he recognized the grand idea of national soli 

Senator Morton s campaign speeches may fairly be 
ranked among his services to the country, for he al 
ways spoke on the side of law and loyalty, justice and 
equal rights. Notwithstanding his physical infirmity 


during the last ten years of his life, he never failed to 
take part in a political campaign in Indiana, and often 
visited other States in response to the urgent appeals 
of Republicans who knew so well the power of his 
earnest eloquence. Believing the Republican party to 
represent the principles of liberty and progress, and 
regarding it as the political embodiment of those ideas 
upon which alone the government could be maintained, 
his whole soul was bound up in its success, and nothing 
short of absolute prostration could prevent him from 
participating in any campaign where his services were 
desired. In Indiana he was regarded as the head and 
front of the party, its organizer, counselor, captain, 
and chief. His influence largely shaped every political 
campaign in the State from 1860 to 1876 ; he generally 
made the " key-note speech " and took an active part in 
the canvass that followed. His printed speeches con 
stitute a rich mine of current political thought from 
which, for a long time to come, Republican speakers 
may draw their most effective arguments. But, as be 
fore stated, his services in this regard were not confined 
to Indiana. Wherever there was a hard or doubtful 
contest he was sent for, and never failed to respond. 
Thus, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Maine, and other 
States, his very name came to be a tower of Repub 
lican strength, and vast crowds assembled to hear the 
great leader, partially disabled and sitting, launch his 
thunderbolts of argument and invective against the 
Democratic party. In spite of his physical infirmity, 
few men would travel farther or by rougher convey- 


ances to keep a political appointment, and probably not 
another in any State would so sacrifice his private 
business and personal convenience to the service of his 
party, as Senator Morton. And yet, we repeat, he 
worked for the Republican party not more for its own 
sake than because he believed that through it was the 
only practicable way of serving and saving the country. 
Senator Morton s political speeches abound with pas 
sages remarkable for condensed logic, terseness of ex 
pression, aptness of illustration, purity of English, and 
elegance of diction. He did not aim to be ornamental 
in his speeches, but he was often very happy in his ex 
pressions and illustrations. Nor was he wanting in the 
highest powers of eloquence if by that term we under 
stand the power of moving and convincing. He could 
hold and move and sway great assemblages of men. 
The Hon. John U. Pettit writes : " I think that Gov 
ernor Morton s character as a speaker, especially in his 
early years, has not been well described, especially in 
so much of it as denied him emotion and enthusiasm. 
I have in my mind one instance, a memorable one, in 
which he wrought an immense audience to tears." He 
could do and sometimes did this, not by any trick of 
language or art of acting, but by the beauty of his 
thoughts and the aptness of his language. He had a 
heart full of tenderness himself, and when he chose to 
draw from it could move the hearts of others. In a 
eulogy upon his life and character, President Tuttle of 
Wabash College said : " I do not say that Morton was 
always eloquent. To do that would be to forget that 


sometimes even the wings of the loftiest eloquence skim 
the earth so closely as to bedraggle them. No man ever 

lived who was always eloquent Morton was 

not always eloquent, but there were times when he was 
as truly eloquent as Chatham, or Henry, or Webster. 
To be eloquent is not merely a thing of the man, it is 
also a thing of the occasion which calls out the man, 
and a thing of the presence in which he thunders. 
There were occasions in Morton s career in which the 
man, the theme, and the audience produced eloquence 
as genuine as that of Demosthenes." The same com 
petent judge recalls an incident of the joint canvass 
for governor between Morton and McDonald in 1864, 
when they spoke together at Crawfordsville. Dr. Tuttle 
says : " The occasion was memorable for the ability of 
both the speakers, but especially for Morton s rejoinder 
to his opponent s attack on his financial policy, to 
which reference has already been made. It was worthy 
to be ranked with the rejoinders of Pitt -in the Parlia 
ment or Webster in the American Senate. It will be 
remembered by those who heard it as a very noble and 
eloquent speech in defense of one of the boldest acts in 
his official career." There could be no better testimony 
than this as to Senator Morton s power as a speaker, 
and it might be supplemented by that of thousands 
who have felt the force of his eloquence in the Senate 
chamber, from the platform, or on "the stump." There 
have been many prettier speakers than he, many who 
understood better how to round a period or polish a 
phrase ; but if eloquence is the power of moving and 


convincing men then certainly Senator Morton was truly 

His great services to the State and nation met with 
various marks of recognition from high sources. It was 
not alone the people of Indiana who honored him but 
loyal men throughout the country and great men recog 
nized him as one of the greatest. Just before he sailed 
for Europe in 18G5 the Hon. S. P. Chase, then Secre 
tary of the Treasury, wrote him a letter stating that in 
a conversation with Secretary Stanton the night before 
" we, naturally turning our minds to the past, fell to 
talking of you. We agreed that no governor rendered 
such services, or displayed such courage or more ability 
in administration ; and we agreed that your recent ser 
vices were most meritorious of all, because rendered 
under circumstances of greater personal risk of health 
and life, and which would have been by almost any 
man regarded, and by all accepted, as good reason for 
total inaction. I have seldom heard Stanton express 
himself so earnestly." In a speech delivered at a sol 
diers reunion at Rockville, Indiana, September 6, 1875, 
General Tecumseh Sherman said : " Governor Morton 
was one of the few civilians who seemed to be unable 
to do enough for his soldiers, never hesitating to count 
the cost or the sacrifice, but acting speedily and in 
season. General Grant and all of us thought him one 
of the noblest men at home. I wish to repeat what I 
have heretofore said so often, that to Governor Morton 
the army owed much in many ways. He never failed 


us. He never said our State has stood the draft, or 
we have furnished our quota, but answered every call, 
and when the State was well-nigh impoverished he 
used his own credit. To-day the record of his fame as 
the soldier s. friend is bright and untarnished as glitter 
ing gold." 

During the whole of General Grant s two adminis 
trations Senator Morton was his trusted friend and 
counselor. Since the Senator s death General Grant 
has said that but for his ill health he should have ap 
pointed him Chief Justice of the United States Supreme 
Court, and in a letter of condolence, written to the 
widow from Paris, he says : " His services as governor 
of Indiana in the most trying times the nation has ever 
passed through, and his services in the Senate since, 
and during such an eventful period, will rank him with 
America s greatest patriots and statesmen." Thus one 
man whom the nation has delighted to honor bears 
willing testimony to the greatness and worth of another 
who himself deserved the highest honors the nation 
could bestow. 



THAT Senator Morton should have been able in his 
condition of health, partially paralyzed and seriously 
enfeebled, to hold during nearly ten years the position 
of acknowledged leader of the Senate and the greatest 
political organizer of his time, is a striking proof of his 
wonderful energy and will power. Indeed, these quali 
ties in him were so remarkable that the moral part of 
him seemed entirely superior to physical pain and 
natural disease. During the whole period of his sena 
torial service he was one of the most laborious men in 
that body, never shirking nor slighting any official duty, 
however onerous. Owing . partly to his physical dis 
ability, and partly to natural taste, he participated very 
little in social life at the capital, the time thus saved 
being devoted to investigating public questions, answer 
ing letters, receiving callers on business, or to other 
matters pertaining to his office. His first attack of 
paralysis in 18 Go was the beginning of the disease 
which was eventually to dause his death, and the twelve 
years that followed were a constant struggle between 
that malady and his mighty will. His father and a 
brother had died of the same disease, one sister had 


been stricken with it, and after his first attack there 
could be little doubt that it would ultimately prove 
fatal with him. That he was able to fight it off as 
long as he did and meanwhile with shattered health to 
^accomplish so much in the way of public service is 
not the least among the proofs of the greatness of his 

In the spring of 1877 the Senate ordered an inves 
tigation into the case of Senator Grover of Oregon, 
who was charged with having procured his election 
corruptly. This duty devolved upon the Committee 
on Privileges and Elections and was referred to a sub 
committee, consisting of Senators Morton, Saulsbury, 
of Delaware, and McMillan of Minnesota. The last 
public appearance of Senator Morton in Indiana was 
on Decoration Day, the 30th of May, 1876, when he 
delivered an address at Crown Hill Cemetery, Indian 
apolis, in honor of the memory of the soldiers buried 
there. Thus his last public utterance in the State was 
in connection with the brave patriots for whom he had 
cared so tenderly in life. In that address, after briefly 
tracing the origin of the war and eulogizing the volun 
teer soldiers who had fought and died for their country, 
he said: "And to these men we never can be suffi 
ciently grateful ; we never can repay them ; money can 
not do it ; the only thing that can approach to it is the 
love and gratitude of a free and an intelligent people. 
We owe to them a debt that is registered in heaven, 
and that can never be repudiated." Referring to the 
demand of some that the custom of decorating the 


soldiers graves should be done away with as a hurtful 
reminder of the war, he characterized it as " a false 
philosophy," and declared that the nation s life consisted 
in its adherence to true principles. Pursuing this idea, 
he said : 

"We will let by-goncs be by-gones. We cannot forget 
the past; we ought not to forget it. God has planted mem 
ory in our minds and we cannot blot it out. But while we 
cannot forget yet we can forgive, and we will forgive all 
who accept the great doctrines of equal liberty and of equal 
rights to all and equal protection to all, and will be recon 
ciled to them. And while we cannot forget the past we will 
treat them as if the past had never occurred, and that is all 
that can be asked; and that is true and perfect reconcilia 
tion. True reconciliation does not require us to forget these 
dead ; does not require us to forget the living soldier and to 
cease to do him justice. We must remember that there is 
an eternal difference between right and wrong, and that we 
were on the right side and that they were on the wrong side; 
and all that we ask of them is that hereafter they shall be 
on the right side. We should forever remember that we 
were in the right. We want to transmit that as a sacred 
inheritance to our remotest posterity. We know that in that 
great struggle we were in the right. We were grandly in 
the right, and they were terribly in the wrong. The whole 
civilized world has now said that we were in the right, and 
we know that if there is such a thing as right and wrong, 
we were in the right and they were in the wrong. We want 
that grand distinction to pass down through all time; but 
that is entirely consistent with true reconciliation. We say 
to those who were on the other side of that great contest 
that cost us so dearly in blood and treasure that cost us so 
much suffering and sacrifice that while we shall forever 
cherish the lessons that were taught us by that struggle, 


and while we shall forever stand by the principles that we 
maintained in that contest, all we ask of them is that they 
shall hereafter stand upon those principles, and let us go 
forward hand in hand and as Americans and as brethren 
through all the future pages of our country s history." 

Whatever others might do under the impulse of a 
sickly sentimentalism, he would never dishonor the mem 
ory of the dead soldiers by confounding the cause for 
which they fought and died with that for which the 
rebels fought. But all that he asked of the latter was 
that "hereafter they should be on the right side." 
Time alone can show to what extent they are enlight 
ened or reformed. 

He was in poor health when he started for Oregon, 
but he thought the journey would do him good; at all 
events official duty required that he should go. During 
the entire trip to San Francisco he was much prostrated, 
but the sea voyage thence to Portland, Oregon, greatly 
invigorated him and by the time he reached the latter 
city he was apparently in fine health and ready for any 
amount of hard work. The investigation lasted eighteen 
days during which he worked incessantly. One hun 
dred and fifty witnesses were examined and the sessions 
of the committee were sometimes prolonged late into 
the night. But, in addition to this labor, under which 
the other members of the committee nearly broke down, 
Senator Morton prepared an elaborate political speech, 
for use in the ensuing Ohio campaign. At the con 
clusion of the investigation he addressed a public meet 
ing at Salem in a speech of considerable length, which 


the Oregon papers pronounced the best ever heard in 
the State. Leaving Oregon, accompanied by his wife 
and youngest son, he reached San Francisco early in 
August. The evening of the 6th was passed at the 
house of a prominent citizen, and after spending a few 
hours in social intercourse he returned to his hotel be 
tween nine and ten o clock. He partook of a hearty 
lunch and then retired. Towards midnight he awoke 
and said to his wife that he felt weak, arid feared he 
would not be able to walk across the room, a thing he 
had heretofore been able to do without assistance. Mrs. 
Morton arose, awoke his son sleeping in the adjoining 
room, and they supported the Senator across the floor. 
In an hour or two more he complained that he was 
losing the use of his left arm, and by morning the entire 
left side had passed under the influence of the paral 
ysis. Previous to this attack he had been feeling re 
markably well, and it was not preceded by any warning 
symptoms. Notwithstanding his alarming condition he 
insisted on starting home the next day, arid accordingly 
a special car was furnished in which a cot was provided 
and the best arrangements possible made for his com 
fort. Then, on the 7th of August, accompanied as usual 
by his wife and son, he started from San Francisco for 
his Indiana home. During this long journey, though 
he was very much depressed and even feared he would 
not reach home to die, he uttered not a word of com 
plaint but bore his affliction in heroic silence. At Chey 
enne, Wyoming Territory, he was met by his brother-in- 
law, Colonel W. R. Holloway,who thenceforward was a 


constant attendant at his bedside, and at Peoria, Illinois, 
Dr. W. C. Thompson, the Senator s long time physician, 
joined the sad party. His house in Indianapolis not 
being prepared for his reception he was taken to Rich 
mond, Wayne County, and to the residence of his 
mother-in-law, Mrs. Burbank, in that city. Here he 
was at once made as comfortable as his condition would 
permit and had every attention that medical skill or 
lovincr affection could devise. The news of his attack 


had already spread abroad, and although as yet his 
friends did not think it would prove fatal, the greatest 
concern was manifested throughout the country. Let 
ters and telegrams of inquiry poured in from all parts, 
and this continued during his entire illness. Many dis 
tinguished men visited him and a still larger number 
sent messages of love and sympathy. On the 13th of 
September the President of the United States visited 
Richmond for the express purpose of calling upon the 
sick Senator. The meeting between them was simple but 
affecting. The great War Governor and distinguished 
Senator lay stretched upon his bed, broken, emaciated, 
and almost helpless. His once massive features were 
pinched with pain, and the eyes that had flashed fire in 
so many contests were dimmed by sickness and .by the 
medicines taken to alleviate his sufferings. Approach 
ing the bed the President pressed the Senator s ex 
tended hand warmly, and then, bending over, kissed 
him on the forehead. The interview was necessarily 
brief, and after a few words of earnest sympathy from 
the President, in which he said he spoke for the country 


as well as for himself, he retired from the room evi 
dently very much affected. In this interview Senator 
Morton assured the President that he would be in his 
seat in the Senate at the opening of the regular session 
of Congress in December. Such was doubtless his ex 
pectation at the time, but it was not to be realized. 

On the evening of the 15th of October he was placed 
in a special car and removed to his home in Indianapo 
lis. This short trip seemed to do him some good, and 
the hope of his recovery, at least sufficiently to take 
his seat in the Senate, was strengthened. During the 
following weeks Colonel Holloway and other friends 
were unremitting in their attentions and nothing was 
left undone either to prolong his life or mitigate his 
sufferings. All this time he took a lively interest in 
current "affairs and especially in what was passing in 
the political world. He wanted the papers read to him 
during nearly every waking moment, and even at night, 
waking from a short sleep, his first exclamation was 
" Read." If the reader stopped a moment to rest or 
for any other purpose he would say, " Read on ! Don t 
stop till I tell you." So absorbing was his interest in 
public affairs and his desire to keep up with current 
events. Meanwhile it had become apparent that his 
vital forces were giving way and that he could not last 
much longer. For many days, even weeks, he took no 
nourishment except milk or occasionally a little beef 
tea, and- even these were not digested. The paralysis 
seemed to have reached his stomach, and all natural ac 
tion was destroyed. Still his mind continued active 


and clear and when friends visited his bedside he would 
welcome them with a pleasant smile and grasp of the 
hand. As long as there was the slightest ground for 
hope those nearest him clung to the belief that he 
would recover, but from Tuesday, October 30th, it be 
came evident to all that his case was hopeless. His 
symptoms on that day were such as to make it plain 
that his end was drawing near. During the 31st his 
death was hourly expected and several times the ru 
mor went abroad that he was dead. A great number 
of telegrams were received from all parts of the coun 
try inquiring if these rumors were true and asking for 
information as to his condition. Thursday, November 
1st, dawned gloomily. The dull, gray light that first 
found admittance to the sick-room fell upon a dying 
man, though the end was yet some hours distant. 
During the day he lay very quietly, only making known 
his wants in broken accents. A number of friends 
were in and out of the room during the day, and his 
wife and family remained near the bedside. In the 
afternoon he sank rapidly. At 4.45 o clock he had 
a paroxysm of pain, and passing his hand over his 
stomach, said feebly, " I am dying." A little later his 
youngest son, taking his hand, said, " Father, do you 
know me ? " Pie nodded an assent and gave signs of 
satisfaction when his son and other members of the 
family kissed him. A few minutes after five o clock, 
while Dr. Thompson was holding his hand, he said, " I 
am dying ; I am worn out." These were the last audi 
ble words he uttered. Then he ceased to move, and at 


twenty-eight minutes past five o clock the vital spark 
went out and his great life was at an end. 

The news of Senator Morton s death caused a pro 
found sensation throughout the country. Although the 
event had been anticipated for several days, it came as 
a shock at last, and created a sorrow so deep and wide 
spread that it could only be compared to that caused by 
the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln. Flags were 
displayed at half-mast, and bells were tolled through 
out the land. Men gathered on the street corners and 
discussed the event as a national calamity. The Presi 
dent of the United States issued a special order direct 
ing the flags on all the public buildings to be placed at 
half-mast, and the government departments to be closed 
on the day of the funeral. He also sent a telegram to 
Colonel Holloway, expressive of his personal bereave 
ment, and his sympathy for the surviving family of the 
departed statesman. The Vice-president of the United 
States sent a similar dispatch. The Cabinet met, and 
gave expression to their deep sense of the nation s loss. 
The Senate and the House of Representatives each ap 
pointed committees to attend the funeral, and both ad 
journed as a further mark of respect to his memory. 
The governor of Indiana and the mayor of Indian 
apolis issued proclamations closing public offices, and 
calling upon citizens to suspend business during the 
funeral services. The bells of Indianapolis were tolled, 
and the city council met, and after passing memorial 
resolutions, resolved to attend the funeral in a body. 
The city council of Cincinnati met and appointed a 


committee to attend the funeral. Citizens meetings 
were held in all the large towns of the State, and ap 
propriate action taken relative to the sad event. The 
State University and the public schools of Indianapolis 
were ordered to be closed on the day of the funeral. 
The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, of 
which Senator Morton was chairman, met, and having 
passed a resolution of sympathy and condolence, ad 
journed in honor of his memory. The members of the 
bar of Indianapolis and other cities met and took ap 
propriate action. In many of the county towns through 
out the State the court-houses were draped in mourning 
and business was suspended. The press teemed with 
elaborate articles upon his character and public ser 
vices, and agreed with remarkable unanimity that the 
country had lost one of its greatest men. Military 
companies and social organizations of various kinds met 
and determined to attend the funeral. Thus in all 
directions, and by every means known to modern society, 
men gave expression to their profound sorrow, and to 
the respect and affection which they bore for the de 

There being a general desire on the part of the pub 
lic to view the remains of the departed statesman, they 
were placed in the main- hall of the court-house at In 
dianapolis, where they lay in state during Sunday and 
part of Monday. During this time they were viewed 
by many thousands of persons who came from far and 
near to take a last look at one who had filled so larsro 


a place in the history of the country. Special trains 
were run on several of the railroads bringing a great 



number of persons to the city, and the solemn proces 
sion which passed through the court-house during these 
days had seemingly no end. 

The funeral, which took place Monday, November 
5th, was a grand and imposing pageant, solemn, impress 
ive, and memorable. A vast concourse of people was 
assembled from all parts of the country. Every branch 
of the federal government was represented. The Pres 
ident, being unable to attend, sent his son to represent 
him. Of the cabinet officers, Secretary Thompson of 
the Navy, and Attorney- general Devens were present. 
On the part of the Senate of the United States there 
were Senators McDonald of Indiana, Davis of Illinois, 
Bayard of Delaware, Cameron of Pennsylvania, Burn- 
side of Rhode Island, and Booth of California. On 
the part of the House of Representatives, there were 
Representatives Hanna and Cobb of Indiana, Banks of 
Massachusetts, Towns end of New York, Wilson of 
West Virginia, Burchard of Illinois, and Davidson of 
Florida. The judiciary department was represented 
by federal judges from several neighboring States, and 
the army by a number of officers. Besides these, there 
were a great number of distinguished citizens from all 
parts of Indiana, governors, ex-governors, and repre 
sentative men from other States, numerous military 
companies and delegations from civil societies, and 
thousands of his neighbors who knew and loved him. 
After solemn ceremonies at the church the procession 
formed, by far the largest ever seen in Indiana, and the 
remains of her dead Governor and Senator were borne 
to Crown Hill Cemetery, and there laid to rest. 



THE foregoing sketch of his life and public services 
will have given the reader some idea of the person 
ality of Oliver P. Morton, but before dismissing the 
subject the picture may be appropriately filled in with 
a reference to his personal character, and with some 
extracts from eulogies passed upon him by those who 
knew him. But even here we are forced to dwell on 
many traits that were developed by his public life, for 
during many years he lived so much for the country that 
it is practically impossible to separate his private from his 
public character. From his first entrance into politics 
he became wholly absorbed in that pursuit. Naturally 
earnest and intense, he made thorough business of what 
ever he undertook. To him politics was the science of 
public affairs, the art of governing through party 
organization, and he devoted himself to the work of 
mastering the subject just as he did in early life to the 
law. And he did master it. That he was the ablest 
political leader, and the best party organizer of recent 
times, if not the greatest America has produced, is now 
generally conceded. In this line he not only had no 
equal but scarcely a rival. But he was not a mere 


politician, he was a statesman and patriot. He was in 
deed a Republican under all circumstances, and, it may 
be confessed without detracting from his fame, a par 
tisan ; but his ends were always those of his country, 
and his grandest party services were in cases where 
party success was identical with the national welfare. 
In politics as in everything he was a practical man, 
dealing with practical measures and aiming at practical 
results. He took men as he found them and endeav 
ored to do the best possible under any given circum 
stances. There was nothing of the dreamer or the 
doctrinaire about him. He did not evolve fine-spun 
theories of government from his inner consciousness 
and endeavor to make men and things conform to an 
impossible ideal, but he framed his measures to meet 
actual case s and dealt with men and things as he found 
them. In a speech delivered during the presidential 
campaign of 1872, he said of General Grant: "I have 
said he was a man of superior ability. I think a man s 
ability, whether he is a lawyer, a military man, or a 
statesman, is best determined by what he accomplishes. 
I want a man who can do a thing ; I want a general 
who can win battles, and not one who always procures 
defeats." This is a fair epitome of Morton s character. 
He liked a man who could " do a thing," and he was 
himself that sort of man. His public record furnishes 
abundant evidence of this. He did things. 

He was a natural leader. He possessed a sort of 
imperiousness of temper which made this a necessity 
and men recognized it as one of the essential elements 


of his greatness. He could follow when circumstances, 
as the good of the country or the welfare of the Re 
publican party, required it, but leading was most to his 
taste. And he had all the necessary qualities of a 
leader. He was bold, alert, full of resources, of almost 
unerring judgment in politics, with a cool and imper 
turbable temper, inflexible purpose, aggressive without 
being violent, never rash and never slow in short, the 
most consummate political leader of his time. This 
was not only felt by the people, but by fellow senators 
and others in public life. In an address delivered at a 
citizens meeting held in Indianapolis after his death, 
Hon. TV". P. Fishback said that during a visit to Wash 
ington while Morton was in the Senate a Republican 
senator said : " Your senator is the leader of us all." 
And Judge (now Senator) Davis said to the same gentle 
man during a later visit to the capital, and while sitting 
in the senate chamber, " Your Indiana senator is the 
bull-dog of them all. He is the big man of the whole 
party." That he felt his capacity for leadership is 
undeniable. Probably no man ever possessed the capac 
ity who did not feel it. Yet he never asserted it 
offensively in the Senate or elsewhere. On the contrary 
he was always courteous, considerate, and studiously 
careful of senatorial proprieties both towards his polit 
ical friends and opponents. But he never truckled. 
His method of political warfare was bold and open. 
Judge Hoadly of Cincinnati said of him : " He seemed 
to me utterly incapable of deceit or disguise, but con 
ducted his political warfare in the most bold, direct, and 


manly style. I came from Washington last winter 
with vastly more respect for him than for men like 

an( j . ? whose pretenses of political morality 

were very much higher than his." The same gentle 
man, referring to Senator Morton s habitual urbanity 
of manner, said: "In his personal relations he was 
both amiable and kind, genial and sweet tempered. It 
was only where he entered the political arena that he 
lost restraint and trampled down his antagonists like 
a charge of cavalry." This needs modification. He 
did trample down political antagonists if they stood in 
his way, but this was done in the discharge of what 
he conceived to be political duty and not in a manner 
to give personal offense. In his political speeches he 
never indulged in personal abuse. He often denounced 
the Democratic party, its spirit, its policy, etc., and 
would freely criticise the public acts and records of its 
leaders ; but as in the Senate he was never unparlia 
mentary, so on the hustings he was never abusive. One 
who knew him long and well says : " You may search 
through his public addresses and compare them with 
those of the other great leaders of the country ; you 
will find them freer from personal abuse than any 
speeches made for the last twenty years. He was 
bitter in hostility against the policy of a party, and 
there were, doubtless, in his speeches expressions of 
bitterness towards all measures which he believed to be 
opposed to the best interests of the country, but there 
was never any personal resentment." Those who did 
not know him personally, or who judged him by his 


campaign speeches, or by the terrible earnestness with 
which he denounced the atrocities practiced in the South, 
may possibly have thought him as cruel and vindictive 
as they were fond of representing him. Nothing could 
be farther from the truth ; he was a man of tender 
heart and very gentle nature. There is not much room 
for the exercise of these qualities in politics, and he 
was anything but a sentimentalist in public affairs, but 
they appeared conspicuously in his domestic relations. 
His family life was beautiful. His devotion to his wife 
was most tender, and her influence over him was un 
bounded. His attachment to his children was remark 
ably strong, and that which existed between him and 
his youngest son was quite extraordinary. This youth 
scarcely ever came near his father without kissing him, 
and no matter how important the latter s occupation 
at the time, he never checked the lad or failed to ac 
knowledge his caress. In a eulogy pronounced at his 
funeral the Rev. Dr. Bayliss of Indianapolis said : 
u This man had something else in him besides ambition 
and schemes and cold power. While he could hate 
wrong with intensity, and could denounce it with the 
vehemence of lightning ; could carry the affairs of a 
great State in his iron hand, and do it easily, and could 
leap almost in a day to the leadership of a Senate ; he 
could also love like a woman, and, as a matter of fact, 
displayed in his constant family intercourse an affec 
tion that was as exquisite as it was exceptional." 

General H. B. Carrington, who was intimately asso 
ciated with him during the war, says : " The one quali- 


fying element which intermingled with all his opera 
tions was the home element. This was a necessity, a 
passion. It took the place of all other luxuries and 
overflowed into public activities. The sympathy for 
the sick soldier which the world respected was a mat 
ter which did not come out of speculative ideas of what 
would bring popularity with the army. At any hour, 
under any circumstances, no matter how stern the pass 
ing issue, he relaxed before the appeal of suffering, and 
became tender as a woman in his sympathy. There 
was no false sentiment about this, and only a moment 
of yielding. There was the instant impulse to re 
lieve, and when this was attended to, he resumed his 
work. The demands of that work, however, never 
impaired the home charm, or interrupted its display of 
power. Only those who have seen him at all hours, 
under every strain of mental and physical activity, 
with a constant outflow of affection for wife and chil 
dren, can understand how the relations of husband and 
father emotionized and governed his entire inner life. 
Whoever assailed him in that citadel shot headless 

Senator Morton had great simplicity of character. 
He was above all affectation, and never did anything 
for show or effect. There was nothing pompous about 
him, no assumption of greatness. As Governor or as 
Senator, he was accessible during all business hours to 
all classes, and treated the poorest man as consider 
ately as the most distinguished. He cared nothing for 
dress, so little in fact that he required to be constantly 


looked after in this regard. His wife always bought 
his shoes, and he would wear a pair till his feet were 
almost on the ground if her timely attention did not 
supply the need. Vanity may exist along with great 
ness. Some great men have been vain of their per 
sonal appearance, fastidious about the tie of a cravat, 
or careful as to the cast of a curl. Senator Morton 
had no vanity. He was so inattentive to his personal 
appearance as to require the close supervision of his 
wife in this behalf. He was thoroughly republican and 
simple in his tastes. While in Paris in 1865 he was 
invited to a state ball at the Tuileries, but finding that 
if he went he would have to wear a court suit, em 
bracing knee-breeches, a dress sword, and cocked hat, 
he declined the invitation. He could not consent to 
exhibit himself in such a garb as that. It has been 
said that " no man is a hero to his valet," but Senator 
Morton impressed even his most intimate friends, and 
those nearest him, by the severe simplicity arid dignity 
of his character. 

Senator Morton was an honest man. Whatever 
ambition he may have had, it did not lie in the direc 
tion of accumulating wealth. He made no money in 
politics beyond the legitimate savings of his official 
salary. Living in an era of general extravagance, his 
family expenses were still held to rigid limits, and 
though he had abundant opportunities to enrich himself 
at public expense, he kept his hands and conscience 
clean. As governor of Indiana, he had unlimited oppor 
tunities for stealing, and for making money by " out- 


side operations," yet after having carried on the whole 
state government for two years with funds raised by 
his own efforts, every dollar of which passed through 
his hands, a rigid investigation of the accounts, con 
ducted in part by his political opponents, failed to dis 
cover the misappropriation or misuse of a penny. In 
the Senate he was never accused or suspected of con 
nection with any jobbery, and the malice of his worst 
enemies never ventured to cast an imputation on his 
honesty. Judge Hoadly of Cincinnati, not a political 
friend of Senator Morton s, said after his death : " In 
these days it is not to be forgotten that he died a poor 
man. His opportunities for the acquisition of wealth 
were unlimited, except by the scruples of his own con 
science. To his honor be it ever remembered that, 
whatever want of scruple he may have ha^ in the use 
of illegal or extra constitutional means to achieve what 
he considered a necessary end, no ill-gained dollar ever 
reached his pocket, but from the beginning to the end 
he lived a life free from the taint of greed." And a 
paper which had reeked with vilest abuse of him while 
living, said of him dead : " Living in an age of venality, 
of depravity and bribery, he kept his hands clean. 
With opportunities to enrich himself possessed by few, 
he contented himself with a moderate competency ; " 
and this, it should be added, was mainly gathered dur 
ing the period of his law practice, and before he en 
tered politics. The following incident never before 
made public, illustrates at once his simple tastes, and 
his scrupulous care to keep his reputation free from, all 


suspicion in this regard. Shortly after his second 
election to the Senate, Judge M. L. Bundy of New 
Castle, Indiana, a life-long friend, conceived the project 
of raising a sum of money among the Indiana friends 
of Senator Morton, and building him a fine house in 
Washington. The amount which it was proposed to 
raise was $30,000, and this was to be raised from men 
who were neither office-holders nor expectants. Sev 
eral persons had been spoken to, all of whom had sig 
nified their willingness to contribute liberally, and there 
was no doubt that the sum could be collected with very 
little effort. At this juncture, in order to avoid any 
complication. Judge Bundy wrote to Senator Morton, 
stating briefly his purpose, and asking if it would be 
agreeable to him that his friends should proceed any 
further. Following is Senator Morton s reply : 


WASHINGTON, July 12, 1873. 

"Hox. M. L. BUXDY, New Castle, Indiana : 

* My Dear Judge: Thanking you sincerely for your 
friendly sentiments and your desire to aid me to a house in 
in this city, in the manner you suggest, I am, however, con 
strained to decline. The people of Indiana have stood by 
me beyond my deserts, and my political friends have been 
faithful and earnest, for which I am deeply grateful. Such 
a contribution as you suggest might perhaps be obtained, 
but I would have no way of rewarding my friends for it and 
should feel myself under a weight of obligation which would 
be oppressive. I apprehend also that the fact of such a do 
nation, and the acceptance of it on my part, might impair my 
political influence and ability to serve the people of Indiana. 


While therefore fully appreciating the friendship which 
prompted your suggestion, I am forced to decline. 

u I am, very sincerely yours, 

" O. P. MORTON." 

Considering the circumstances and the manner of 
the proposed gift, the intention being that none should 
contribute but personal friends, and those who were not 
office-holders nor office-seekers, the most rigid political 
purist could hardly have found fault with so graceful 
and substantial a testimonial to a faithful public servant. 
Nevertheless we cannot but respect the feeling of Sen 
ator Morton in regard to the matter, and the honorable 
motives which prompted him to decline the proffered 
gift. He had had experience enough of the untiring 
energy of political malice, and doubtless deemed it best 
to avoid even the appearance of evil. 

Being honest himself he believed, as a general rule, 
in the honesty of others. He did not subscribe to the 
doctrine promulgated by some in recent years that pol 
itics is a school of corruption, and that every man in 
public life is prima facie a rascal. He had no pa 
tience with the unreasoning brawlers who shower indis 
criminate abuse on all in office, and who defame their 
country by denouncing its politics and civil service as 
hopelessly corrupt, " Those who charge and believe 
in universal corruption," he said in one of his campaign 
speeches, " are themselves most likely to be corrupt, 
and when we hear a brawling demagogue on the stump 
denouncing Republican officials as generally corrupt, 
the chances are that man will be a thief at the first 


opportunity." He held that the world was growing 
better instead of worse, and preferred to believe in 
general honesty rather than universal depravity. To 
quote again from one of his campaign speeches, deliv 
ered in Ohio in 1873 : "The standard of public morals 
is to-day higher in this country than it has ever been 
before. Of this I am satisfied from a somewhat care 
ful reading of the history of our country for the last 
one hundred years. So far from the public morals 
having been debauched and deteriorated during the last 
twelve years of Republican rule, notwithstanding the 
war with all its consequences and demoralizations, they 
have been greatly elevated and improved." It will 
thus be seen that Senator Morton was no believer in 
the general political corruption of his countrymen, or 
in the growing depravity of the times. 

He was faithful in his attachments and devoted to 
his friends. This was partly due to his nature, for a 
truer-hearted man never lived, and partly to the school 
of politics which he practiced. He loved his friends 
for their own sake, and was true to them because they 
were true to him. He never troubled himself to con 
ciliate his enemies ; but, to use a colloquialism, he " stuck 
to his friends through thick and thin." He may even 
sometimes have committed the error of being too de 
voted to them, but he certainly never fell into the 
egregious blunder of neglecting them in order to con 
ciliate his enemies. In one of his campaign speeches, 
referring to this same quality in General Grant, he 
said : " There is no man who is truer to his friends than 



General Grant. No matter what the clamor against 
a friend of his may be, unless he believes that that 
man has done something wrong or is not a good man, 
he will not desert him. He stands by him, let the 
country howl if it will." Whatever mistakes this qual 
ity may sometimes lead its possessor into, men respect 
it far more than they do the cowardly one which leads 
some men to sacrifice a score of friends in order to 
placate one enemy. 

Oliver P. Morton was a patriot in the truest sense 
of the word. He earnestly desired and labored for 
the integrity, prosperity, greatness, and glory of the 
whole country. His speeches abound with utterances 
which prove the truth of this. He was as little sec 
tional as any statesman the country has produced. He 
was for the Union unbroken, the government intact, 
and a national sovereignty that should command re 
spect by deserving it. In all his measures and policies 
he had regard not merely to present results but to the 
future welfare and prosperity of the country, through 
the establishment of right principles and the develop 
ment of a strong national sentiment. No man studied 
the constitution more closely or was more thoroughly 
imbued with its spirit. He loved liberty, revered law, 
and hated injustice. He regarded the Union of the 
States as a sacred legacy bequeathed to posterity by 
the fathers of the Constitution, and its preservation 
when threatened became with him a mighty absorbing 
passion. The mayor of Indianapolis, who was closely 
associated with him during the war, says : " If ever 


there was a great thought animating a human being, it 
was in the case of Governor Morton the determination 
that the Union should be preserved." After the war, 
and during the remainder of his life, this sentiment took 
the form that the government must and should be 
established on the eternal principles of justice and 

Many persons have inquired and all will be inter 
ested to know what Mr. Morton s views were on the 
subject of religion. While he was not what is called a 
professing Christian, he was a firm believer in the 
truths of Christianity, and, prior to his physical dis 
ability, was a frequent attendant at church services. 
Though he talked little on the subject he never hesi 
tated when proper occasion offered to express his be 
lief in revelation. Writing to a friend from New York 
on the night before he sailed for Europe, in 1865, he 
said : " For the sympathy expressed for me by the 
people at home I am most grateful, and you are right 
when you say you believe that I deeply appreciate the 
prayers which have been offered up by the praying 
friends whom I have left behind. I am no infidel. I 
wtis educated by pious grandparents to a professed be 
lief in Christianity, and taught to reverence holy 
things ; and though I may not in many things have 
led a Christian life, yet I have never fallen into disbe 
lief, nor have I been the immoral man some would 
have the world to believe. The Christian gentleman 
is the noblest and loveliest character on earth, for which 
I entertain the highest respect and love. I recognize 


the hand of Providence in all the affairs of men, and 
believe there is a Divine economy which regulates the 
lives and conduct of nations." Similar expressions in 
other letters leave no doubt that he maintained through 
life a firm belief in the truths of Christianity. 

The following personal recollections are furnished by 
Mr. Murat Halstead, editor of " The Cincinnati Com 
mercial." " The night after the day when he was 
beaten by Willard for governor of Indiana (1856), 
Morton called at my office and was weary and de 
pressed. His first state campaign had ended in dis 
aster, and he seemed to have no political future. He 
was himself of the opinion at the time that that was the 
end of his career as a politician. He was indomitable, 
though, took the second place on the ticket with Henry 
S. Lane for leader (1860), and so became the War 
Governor. I rarely missed seeing him when he came 
to Cincinnati, and knew more than was on the surface 
of his excessive labors and anxieties during the war. 
The first symptom of illness that I ever saw in him 
was once when he suddenly threw away a cigar, saying 
it made him nervous and he must stop smoking ; then 
he said that he was not well and little things were wor 
rying him. In some degree this broke the shock of the 
news that he had a paralytic difficulty. But I never 
saw him a cripple, toiling painfully on his canes, with 
out thinking of his alert and robust young manhood, his 
rapid walk and ringing step, before the trouble came in 
a form so hard to bear. Many times I talked with him 
about his health and once urged him to take the time 


and give himself a chance to recover through a long 
period of rest. He silenced me by saying with deep 
pathos that his course of ceaseless activity was not in 
considerate, adding, * I am keeping myself alive. 

" One of the strongest impressions that I have re 
ceived of Governor Morton is that he grew intellect 
ually through the later years of his life more rapidly 
than at any other time. The paralysis of his limbs 
seemed to stimulate his brain. He was conscious of 
this, spoke of it, and it was the one gleam of consolation 
that came to him in the darkness of his great calam 
ity. His stature in the Senate grew with each year s 
service, so that when he was taken there was none 
taller than he. I differed with him about public affairs 
and duties, but his greeting was always pleasant, and 
there was the life of old times in his face." 

General H. B. Carrington says : " Aside from the 
controlling political idea of his administration as gov 
ernor, which was the suppression of the rebellion and 
preservation of the Union, he did not claim precise 
consistency, but after saying * I ve changed my mind, 
he lead off in the new course with as much vigor as he 
had shown before. His belief in any issue, or in any 
policy, became his master, and forced every faculty into 
service to execute its behests. He wasted no time 
upon immaterial issues and by rejecting such was often 
found to be in the forefront of his political associates, 
leading not led. His personal habits were shaped and 
mastered by the exigencies of his work. Sleep, rest, 
and all behests of nature were forced to wait upon his 


convenience. No physical fatigue or prostration could 
so restrain his will that a pressing demand for thought 
or action was not respected. He was strictly temperate, 
had no desire for liquor of any kind and no epicurean 
tastes in the way of duty." 

At a citizens meeting held in Indianapolis after Sen 
ator Morton s death to voice the general grief caused 
by that event, after remarks by many prominent men, 
all of whom bore testimony to the great ability, many 
virtues, and unspotted patriotism of the deceased, a 
memorial was adopted as expressive of the sense of the 
meeting, from which we quote as follows : " His sense 
of greatness was such that he saw no duty too difficult 
for his faculties, and his high and heroic will smiled at 
dangers which most men would have regarded insur 
mountable. His vigilance when danger threatened and 
plots thickened made his eye seem to be ubiquitous. 
His mind grasped details, yet he made them the instru 
ments of great generalizations. He was rounded and 
complete, and filled the measure of greatness in always 
being equal to the exigency in which he was placed. 
In the supreme crisis of his country, when her institu 
tions were menaced with overthrow, his was the step 
that was in the forefront of the patriotic cause ; his was 
the trumpet voice that roused men to action. When 
the crisis was greatest, and the battles grew hottest, his 
wise provision for the soldiers wants and his fiery sym 
pathy for the soldiers cause made every soldier of the 
State, on whatever field, in whatever hospital, feel that 
Morton was ever present with him. The people loved 


him. His name among them is a household word. At 
how many unpretending homes, at how many humble 
hearthstones, are hearts now bowed with grief as they 
have never been bowed before. Men may dispute 
about this or that minor act, but the firmest opponent, 
bending over the form of the great Senator, will admit 
the general grandeur of his public service." 

Of the vast number of press notices we may select 
a few. The " New York Tribune " said : " He was no 
doubter ; he believed in his beliefs and .in himself, and 
this, with his indomitable and compelling will, was the 
secret of his strength. Although burdened for years 
with a physical disability that would have conquered one 
less resolute, he was nevertheless the strongest indivi 
dual force in the Senate. Carlyle says that the word 
king (Kb nig) comes from the German konnen, to can, 
to be able to do ; and in this case Oliver P. Morton was 
a king among men." The " New York Times " said : 
" A skillful organizer, a good debater, an eloquent and 
popular speaker, and a practical legislator, he did much, 
in the Senate and out of it, to strengthen his party and 
to organize victory when defeat seemed possible. Cour 
ageous and outspoken, he was never a man of half-way 
measures and compromises. He was not one of those 
meek souls who are ready to apologize for the faith 
which they lightly hold. The " Albany Evening Jour 
nal " said : " History will enroll him high among Amer 
ican leaders, and will pronounce the judgment : The true 
patriot ; the faithful champion of liberty ; the devoted 
friend of the freedmen, and the uncompromising sup- 


porter of the Union." The " St. Louis Republican " 
said : " The Republican party has never had a greater 
leader than him who will lead no more. He had all the 
qualities of leadership : a clear head, an indomitable will, 
a wonderful fertility of resource, a courage that never 
faltered, and a personal magnetism which drew from his 
followers an obedience as cheerful as it was prompt." 
The " Chicago Tribune " said : " Mr. Morton has left 

no equal in the Senate Able, powerful in debate, 

aggressive and intolerant, honest and patriotic, sincere 
and unwearying, the name of Senator Morton is deeply 
impressed on the pages of his country s history, and in 
future times he will be ranked among the great states 
men of the Republic." The Chicago "Inter-Ocean" 
said : " He was one of the few men whom the world with 

universal voice calls great Over such a life we 

love to ponder; the pen lingers to do honor to the 
brave, true-hearted, patriotic statesman and friend of 
humanity, who, living, occupied a large place in the 
hearts of the nation, and though now to be consigned to 
earth, yet speaks in the nobility of a grand and useful 
life." The " Cincinnati Commercial " said : " He had 
something of the massiveness of Webster, the intellect 
ual keenness of Calhoun, the persuasiveness of Clay. 
In all that he said and did the commanding will, the high 
resolve, the determination to achieve, to win, was con 
spicuous." The " Cincinnati Gazette " said : " In the 
State of Indiana, in the councils of the nation, and in the 
party of which he was the most trusted and influential 
leader, the death of Morton has caused a vacancy which 


cannot be filled. Massachusetts did not furnish a second 
Webster, nor Kentucky a second Clay, nor will Indiana 
produce a second Morton, at least, in this generation." 
The " Cleveland Leader " said : " He was not only a man 
to be admired afar off. Every one who came into his 
presence felt the genial warmth of his great, kind heart. 
Probably no man in public life save Lincoln has ever 
been so beloved by those who knew him intimately as 
the great War Governor. The soldiers whose wants 
he ministered unto with such untiring zeal, and their 
families whom he never tired in succoring, idolized 
him." The " Dayton Journal " said : " The memory of 
Lincoln has long been enshrined in the hearts of his 
countrymen ; the fame of the great services of Oliver 
P. Morton in times that tried meif^ souls will grow 
with the years as they pass." The "Illinois State Jour 
nal " said : " In the whole circle of American statesmen 
it would be impossible to name another who has tri 
umphed over such obstacles and left his name so in 
delibly written on the pages of his country s history." 

These quotations might be indefinitely multiplied, but 
the foregoing will suffice to show the general estimate 
of Senator Morton s character and the extent of the 
national loss in his death. Of the state press the eulo 
gies pronounced upon his character and services by the 
Republican papers were very eloquent, while even 
Democratic papers admitted that he was a great and 
honest man, and, to quote the language of a leading 
one, that " he raised Indiana to a place among the 
States that she never occupied before his coming." 


Thus from various sources and different stand-points 
an effort has been made to present a truthful sketch of 
the life and character of Oliver P. Morton. Necessa 
rily incomplete in some important respects, it will still 
serve to convey at least an approximate idea of one of 
the great men of the age. The future historian will 
accord him his proper place, and if the present esti 
mate is in any respect erroneous something must be al 
lowed to the influence of his mighty presence which 
still seems to linger among those who knew him. As 
the true outlines of a mountain or a pyramid are best 
seen from a distance, so the fairest estimate of a great 
character like Morton s is made after time has par 
tially divested it of those personal qualities which 
sometimes confuse the judgment by capturing the 
heart. " Worn out " in the service of his country, our 
honored Senator has so recently passed away that his 
personality still seems to pervade the State, and his 
familiar presence is still fresh in the memories of those 
who loved him. It is too soon, therefore, for any one 
who knew him to delineate his character without some 
times seeming to verge on eulogy ; but his fellow cit 
izens in Indiana will share this feeling, while those of 
other States can at least pardon and respect it. With 
confidence, therefore, we commit his fame to the future, 
not doubting that the name of Oliver P. Morton will 
be inscribed high in the list of American patriots and 



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