Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Doom of ReconstructionThe Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era$

Andrew L. Slap

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227099

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227099.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use. Subscriber: null; date: 23 May 2022

The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872

The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872

Chapter:
(p.25) 2 The Liberal Republican Conception of Party, 1848–1872
Source:
The Doom of Reconstruction
Author(s):

Andrew L. Slap

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823227099.003.0002

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the liberal republicans' view of political parties as “engine[s] to accomplish objects of public good” and as reform coalitions that become corrupt and need constant renewal. Strongly committed to principle, liberal republicans would not follow party discipline during the Civil War, and some criticized their party for corruption and use of the spoils system. During the war, they challenged the political system by developing an independent press, something unknown at a time when most newspapers were operated by political parties. While some historians have seen the liberal republican approach to political parties as a cynical way of rationalizing their movement, their concept of party was the culmination of words and deeds over the course of two decades. In articulating their vision of political parties, the liberal republicans were drawing on their experiences since the 1848 founding of the Free Soil Party.

Keywords:   political parties, corruption, public good, reform, independent press

Years before the national phase of the liberal republican movement began, the Springfield Republican analyzed the future of the Republican Party. The paper considered political parties to be temporar07y coalitions organized for reform, but always vulnerable to corruption. “There are times and circumstances in which a thorough break-up of the old organizations is almost a condition-precedent of advance or reform. Parties become incurably corrupt, like cisterns which have accumulated so much filth that you might put in clean water, and take it out dirty, forever.” Because political parties naturally became corrupt, “It is often necessary of reform, that old parties shall be given up, and all the political atoms become free to arrange themselves around new centers and obey new attractions.” The Republican explained, though, that “there is almost always one condition of an advantageous redistribution of political forces, which is not found in the present situation. Generally speaking, change of parties requires the existence of at least a third party, however small it may be, which shall serve as the nucleus of the new organization … .It was in this way that the northern whig passed into the republican through the free soil party.” In April 1868, the Springfield Republican advanced the modest hope that the Republican National Convention in three months would nominate Ulysses Grant, for “perhaps it will be found that Ulysses S. Grant as president, is all the reconstruction that the South, the country at large, or the republican Party need.” Four years later, however, the same paper argued that the Republican Party needed reconstruction, because “the war imposed new duties upon it, and also materially changed its character and composition.” The Springfield Republican and the liberal republicans had decided that Grant could not reconstruct the Republican Party and, drawing on their understanding of the nature of politics, had begun a small political movement to break up the old political parties.1

The allusion to the Free Soil Party and the formation of the Republican Party in the Republican was not accidental. The liberal republican movement contained a disproportionate number of former Free Soilers compared to the rest of the nation. While the Free Soil presidential ticket had garnered only 10 percent of the vote in 1848, nine of the twelve liberal republicans old enough then to participate in politics had supported it. Many of those too young to experience (p.26) the Free Soil Party had been influenced by prominent Free Soilers, to whom some of them were also related. All of the liberal republicans active in politics during the mid–1850s helped organize the Republican Party from the grass roots and supported its first presidential candidate in 1856. As leaders of the Republican Party during the Civil War, they faced the challenges of trying to save the Union while maintaining the party's reform impulse. For liberal republicans, political parties were transient reform coalitions that naturally became corrupt and needed constant renewal. Experience in the Free Soil Party, the formation of the Republican Party, and leadership of the party through the Civil War had shaped their understanding of political parties. The liberal republicans' decades of political experience before the 1870s help demonstrate the political flexibility of the Civil War era and help explain the formation of the liberal republican movement.2

Two political forces gained strength in the early 1840s: party ties and the issue of slavery. After generations of distrust, Americans were gradually accepting the legitimacy of political parties, and two of them, the Whigs and the Democrats, dominated the political landscape. At the same time, the expansion of slavery into the western territories became a contentious political issue. As the election of 1844 neared, the debate focused on the possible annexation of Texas with its thousands of slaves. Southern Democrats blocked the nomination of their party's expected candidate, Martin Van Buren, because of his antiannexation position. After a bitter conflict the Democrats nominated James K. Polk, an avid expansionist. Polk won the 1844 election, and outgoing President John Tyler interpreted the victory as a mandate for annexation. Before leaving office Tyler pushed a joint resolution through Congress annexing Texas.3

The annexation of Texas angered Mexicans, Whigs, and abolitionists, but it failed to satisfy the expansionistic goals of Polk. Three months after the outbreak of the Mexican War, Polk asked the House of Representatives for $2 million to facilitate the purchase of territory from Mexico when negotiating a peace treaty. David Wilmot, a Democrat in the Van Buren wing of his party, moved an amendment making it “an express and fundamental condition to the acquisition of any territory” that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of said territory.” While abolitionists naturally supported the Wilmot Proviso, many Northern Democrats also endorsed it to show their displeasure with Polk's victory over Van Buren at the convention and what they considered undue Southern influence in the party. Eric Foner warns that “it would be a serious mistake to dismiss the bitterness of the Van Burenites as merely the normal complaints of political losers,” for “the Van Burenites were convinced that Polk's nomination was not the result of open deliberations by party leaders, but of ‘the most stupendous intrigue that has (p.27) ever been successful in this country.’” Despite popular support in the North and passing the House twice, the Wilmot Proviso failed to pass the Southern-dominated Senate.4

The failure of the Wilmot Proviso in Congress did not prevent it from raising the divisive issue of slavery expansion in both the Democratic and Whig parties. In New York the Van Buren wing of the Democratic Party, called the Barnburners, was still opposed to the expansion of slavery and bitter about the defeat of Van Buren at the 1844 convention. William Cullen Bryant, editor of the Democratic New York Evening Post and a future liberal republican, publicly denounced Daniel S. Dickinson, the Democratic senator from New York who had voted against the Wilmot Proviso, and ridiculed General Lewis Cass, a prospective presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. Bryant was the classic aristocratic Yankee, able to trace his ancestors on both sides back to the Mayflower, educated at the exclusive Williams College in the Berkshires, and published in the prestigious North American Review at age seventeen. In Bryant's native state, Massachusetts, the Wilmot Proviso divided the Whig Party. A group of young abolitionist Whigs, known as the Conscience Whigs, decided that “the Wilmot proviso should be the policy—and the test—of a true Whig.” Charles Francis Adams, scion of the famous Adams family and editor of the Conscience Whigs' newspaper the Boston Daily Whig, attacked the Massachusetts Whig senator who filibustered the proviso, charging that he had tried to shield Southern Whigs from having to vote either way.

In Ohio the strong presence of the Liberty Party and the fiery abolitionism of the Western Reserve caused problems in both the Democratic and Whig parties. Ohio Whigs soon adopted the Democratic-sponsored proviso as their own. Jacob Brinkerhoff, Democratic congressman, coauthor of the Wilmot Proviso, and mentor of future liberal republican Roeliff Brinkerhoff, insisted that “the adoption of the principle of the ‘Wilmot proviso’ is the only way to save the Democratic party of the free states.” Brinkerhoff was an archetype, having attended Williams College a decade after Bryant and coming of age in the Burned-Over District—a section of upstate New York where so many religious revivals took place under Charles Grandison Finney that it looked as if a forest fire had swept the area. Within two years of Finney's moving to Ohio to become president of Oberlin College, a hotbed of abolitionism, Brinkerhoff also moved to Ohio and became involved in antislavery politics. Many Whig and Democratic Party leaders shared President Polk's concern that the controversy surrounding the Wilmot Proviso could destroy the national parties. Salmon P. Chase, leader of the Liberty Party in Ohio, counted on the slavery issue disrupting the national parties and began contacting disaffected Whigs and Democrats across the country to try forming a new antislavery third party.5

(p.28) The early attempts to lure antislavery Whigs and Democrats away from their parties in the aftermath of the Wilmot Proviso failed. Longtime Democrat Jacob Brinkerhoff told Chase at the end of 1847 that while “you have thought best, in order to forward the Great Cause, to disconnect yourself from both the great parties of the country;—I, who love liberty and hate slavery with an intensity few men can emulate, have thought I could best advance the same great Cause by remaining within the pale of the powerful party in which I may [be] said to have been born.” Charles Francis Adams came to a similar conclusion in Massachusetts, and few could doubt his political independence or antislavery credentials. Adams had continued his famous family's reputation, established by his grandfather and father, for being political mavericks. John Adams had fought with his own political party while president, and John Quincy Adams had returned to the House of Representatives after his own term as president to fight against slavery. The Liberty Party's poor showing in 1844 made Charles Francis Adams wary of third parties, and he wished to regenerate the Whigs into an antislavery party. The paper he edited insisted in January 1848, “There is more courage in remaining with a party to contend for the establishment of an unpopular principle against a reluctant majority, than in leaving it.” Likewise William Cullen Bryant, one of New York's leading antislavery advocates, saw little benefit to leaving the Democratic Party. He explained to his brother in February 1848, “All parties formed for a single measure are necessarily short-lived … . I never mean to belong to any of them, unless I see some strong and compelling reason for it.”6

The continued commitment of Bryant, Brinkerhoff, and Adams to their parties depended on the presidential nominations in 1848. Convinced that the Democrats could not win the presidential election without New York's thirty-six electoral votes, Bryant repeatedly insisted in the Evening Post that “New York must be conciliated and given a candidate the people can vote for.” He expected the Democratic Party to adopt the free soil view popular among New York Democrats, that slavery should not expand into the West. The Democratic Convention, however, sat both the anti-expansionist Barnburner delegation and the rival pro-expansion, Democratic faction from New York, thus reducing the Barnburners' influence and causing them to bolt. Bryant declared the Democratic nomination of the expansionist Cass for president a “nullity,” arguing that the convention merited as much consideration as “an accidental meeting of persons on a steam boat.” Unlike Bryant, Adams had little hope that his party would nominate even a nominally antislavery candidate for president, for the slaveowning General Zachary Taylor had long been the favorite for the Whig nomination and had consistently refused to support the Wilmot Proviso. Adams called a meeting of the Conscience Whigs even before the Whig Convention (p.29) met on June 8, and they agreed that if Taylor were nominated they would hold their own convention to repudiate the Whig nominees and select candidates committed to the Wilmot Proviso. When Adams heard the guns fired on Boston Common to celebrate Taylor's nomination he realized that his days as a Whig were over, writing in his diary, “We are fairly embarked.”7

Salmon Chase anticipated the results of the Democratic and Whig political conventions, and with the help of fellow Ohioans Stanley Matthews and George Hoadly Jr.—two future liberal republicans—organized a “People's Convention” for antislavery men of all parties, to be held at Columbus on June 22. The Columbus Convention called for all “opposed to the election of Lewis Cass and Zachary Taylor to meet at Buffalo on the 9th of August.” Like many of the liberal republicans, Hoadly had been a New Englander before moving to Ohio. After college and law school he became a junior partner in Chase's law firm and a political protégé of the antislavery leader. Matthews grew up in Ohio and became a lawyer in Cincinnati, later a hot spot of liberal republicanism. In the two weeks after the Ohioans held the Columbus Convention, the Barnburners and the Conscience Whigs agreed at their own conventions to send delegates to Buffalo. With the actual organization of a third party—the Free Soilers—in sight, Brinkerhoff finally left the Democrats and journeyed toward Buffalo.8

The Free Soil Convention at Buffalo publicly dealt with the conflict between principle and party. After being selected president of the convention, Adams assured his fellow Free Soilers that “you have all assembled here today out of pure devotion to a principle,” one that he described as “a contest between truth and falsehood, between the principles of Liberty and the rule of Slavery.” The first ten planks of the platform dealt with slavery, opposing the extension of slavery in the West and “the reckless hostility of the Slave power to the establishment of Free Government for Free Territories.” The Free Soilers argued that slaveowners had taken control of the federal government and were using it to protect and expand slavery against the will of the majority. Adams and the Free Soilers blamed the national parties for the Slave Power's control of the federal government and threat to national liberty. The platform explained that the Whigs and Democrats “have dissolved the National party organization heretofore existing by nominating for Chief Magistracy of the United States, under slave-holding dictation, candidates neither of whom can be supported by the opponents of slavery extension.” The major principle for Free Soilers was thus not only the moral issue of slavery, but the political parties' abandonment of their republican mission, the protection of liberty and democracy.9

The theme of party corruption rang throughout the Free Soil Convention. On its first day Adams insisted, “We are obliged, under a necessity which we cannot resist, to denounce the organizations of the old parties as no longer (p.30) worthy of the confidences of a free people. They have met, and they have shown by their action that they have no system of policy, excepting that which consists in fighting with each other in the endeavor to get place as the prize of their struggles.” He repeatedly contended that the parties “do not understand that they are fighting only for expediency, and are expecting nothing but place.” On the last day of the convention Brinkerhoff expressed similar sentiments, advising people, “Don't trust politicians. You have trusted them too long already. Trust only yourselves … uninfluenced by the hope of office.” He declared that unlike politicians, “You do not expect to be appointed on a foreign mission, or to a seat in the cabinet, or to a clerkship in the post office.” Getting to the heart of the principle-versus-party conflict, the longtime Democrat explained, “I have always been under the impression—the silly impression it may be thought—that democracy consisted, not in men—not in organizations—but in principles.” The Free Soilers attacked the corruption of the national parties by proposing to limit their source of power: patronage. The Buffalo Convention platform called for “a retrenchment of the expenses and patronage of the Federal Government; the abolition of all unnecessary offices and salaries; and the election by the people of all civil officers in the service of the Government, so far as the same may be practicable.” Many Free Soilers also worried that the federal government's large holdings of western land could lead to political corruption, and thus they included a plank calling for free grants of public land to settlers. Adams confided to a friend before the convention that he wanted to get rid of the public lands as fast as possible, since they were “nothing but a source of political corruption.”10

The antiparty, republican rhetoric of the Free Soilers was common to new and third parties in the nineteenth century. Though parties had become an established element of the political scene by mid-century, antiparty rhetoric, harkening back to earlier generations' virulent distrust of anything resembling a political party, still resonated with many Americans. The antiparty tropes of “special interests” and “corrupt politicians” were central themes in almost every nineteenth-century third party. While it would be easy to dismiss the antipartyism of new parties as a calculated attack on the established parties, much of it was sincere. Michael F. Holt contends that a sincere antipartyism was vital in the formation of the Whigs, as “only a passionate devotion to the Revolutionary experiment in republican government and a conviction that Jackson threatened it explain how men with such diverse views on other matters formed such a united front against him.” Similarly, Mark Voss-Hubbard thinks that “to cast the antiparty tradition as merely a political idiom indiscriminately deployed by insurgents and party elites alike is to miss its genuine oppositional meaning in movements of popular rage.” The perceived corruption (p.31) in government truly upset the Free Soilers, and for good reason. Mark W. Summers observes that not only were many of the antebellum denunciations of party corruption sincere, but that “corruption did endanger the Republic” because “Republican institutions are based on the trust of the people in their fairness. Corrupt use of those institutions makes them less worthy of faith.”11

The Free Soilers shared another similarity with most third parties: the difficulty of bringing people from different parties together on a common platform. Frequently described as having “all manner of men” and cited for its “heterogeneity,” the Buffalo Convention resembled the national Liberal Republican Convention held twenty-four years later. Like the Liberal Republican Convention, the Buffalo Convention had little trouble creating planks for civil service reform and preserving western land for settlers. Ironically, Adams predicted that for the coalition forming at Buffalo, “the most serious difficulty will lie in the protecting system,” the same issue—protective tariffs—that would vex the Liberal Republican Convention. The tariff resolution for the Free Soil platform did cause more discussion than any other issue, as former Whigs and Democrats continued their traditional battle over economic policy. Unlike the delegates at the Liberal Republican Convention, the Free Soilers harmoniously agreed to a plank advocating a revenue tariff—a tariff adequate to raise the money necessary to run the government. The two parties also shared a similar experience in nominating their presidential candidates. The idealistic Free Soilers handed the nomination to Martin Van Buren, who had truckled to slavery for years. Likewise, the ideologically motivated Liberal Republicans would nominate Horace Greeley, a lifetime opponent of free trade and supporter of the spoils system. The relative harmony of the Free Soil Convention, though, could not prevent the party from experiencing the fate common to most new parties—failure at the polls. The Free Soil ticket of Van Buren and Adams garnered just over 10 percent of the vote.12

The outcome at the polls did not upset the majority of Free Soilers, who had never expected to win the presidency. Many shared the view of Adams that the election of 1848 was the first battle in a great crusade and the beginning of party realignment. Shortly after the election Bryant explained to readers of the New York Evening Post that one of the campaign's major results was that “it has so disturbed the composition of the democratic party of the north, that it will compel it to reorganize with the principle of free soil in its creed as a settled doctrine.” While the Whigs and Democrats maintained their national dominance over the next four years, and the Free Soil Party lost strength nationally, the Free Soilers in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio did significantly disrupt the political parties in their states.13

(p.32) Though the Barnburners in New York reluctantly returned to the Democratic Party, few could completely forgive or forget the wounds of the campaign, and the old scars maintained the breach. Bryant editorialized about the division in the New York Democratic Party in 1850, complaining that “even now it [the New York Evening Post] is under the ban of the same organization for its uncompromising resistance to the extension of slavery, though we continually hope that the time is not far distant when this heresy, like those which have proceeded it in the history of this journal, may be transfigured into the accepted policy of our party.” More upheaval occurred in Massachusetts, where the Free Soilers and Democrats formed a coalition to replace the long-dominant Whigs. Even with the decline of the national Free Soil Party in 1852, Adams still saw the major parties as “effete” (an ironic choice of words, since this was the exact term many party regulars applied to liberal reformers in the 1870s), and thought it inevitable that a new organization must arise. Perhaps the greatest political change occurred in Ohio, where the Free Soilers elected Salmon P. Chase to the United States Senate and threw the state's two-party system into complete disarray. Controlling the balance of power in the Ohio legislature, Free Soilers prevented either of the other parties from organizing the state government and caused unprecedented chaos in the 1849–50 legislative session. The Free Soilers, particularly in Massachusetts and Ohio, learned how easily a third party could disrupt the political system. The impact of the Free Soil Party became even greater in retrospect, as many became convinced that the Free Soilers had started the party realignment of the 1850s.14

The Free Soil experience not only emphasized the plasticity of the party system for its members, but also reinforced their understanding of the nature of political parties. Adams, Bryant, and the other Free Soilers demonstrated that their loyalty to political parties was conditional on the parties' principles. While their actions can be seen as pragmatic politics in some instances, in many cases Free Soilers left established parties for one that promised little immediate success. Certainly most Free Soilers were on the fringes of their parties by 1848, but that was mainly because they had unceasingly advocated opposition to the extension of slavery, an issue most Whigs and Democrats preferred to ignore. The Free Soilers viewed parties primarily as a means to reform society, and if parties ceased to reform then they ceased to have a reason to exist. Though historians like Michael F. Holt have shown that issues other than slavery helped destroy America's second-party system, the relatively stable competition between the Whigs and Democrats in the antebellum era that constitutes one of historians' five distinct party periods, the Free Soilers perceived slavery as the salient issue and concluded that principle could drive politics.

(p.33) Many future liberal republicans shared the lessons and experience of the Free Soil Party with Adams and Bryant. New York City lawyer David Dudley Field joined Cincinnati lawyers Donn Piatt, Stanley Matthews, and George Hoadly in attending the Buffalo Convention and worked actively in the 1848 campaign. In Wisconsin, Horace White marched in a Free Soil parade at age fourteen, and in Massachusetts Edward Atkinson cast his first presidential vote for the Free Soil Party. Younger liberal republicans were often the relatives or assistants of Free Soilers. Henry Adams and Charles Francis Adams Jr. served as aides and secretaries to their father; Roeliff Brinkerhoff studied law under his uncle, the leading Free Soiler Jacob Brinkerhoff; and Charles Nordhoff was the protégé of Bryant. Many Free Soilers did not become liberal republicans, but enough attended the Liberal Republican Convention that abolitionist George Julian recalled, “I attended the Liberal Republican Convention at Cincinnati on the first of May, where I was delighted to meet troops of the old Free Soilers of 1848 and 1852.”15

The demise of America's second-party system in the mid—1850s created a political vacuum that numerous political parties tried to fill. The Democrats, Free Democrats, Whigs, Free Soilers, North Americans, Know-Nothings, Know-Somethings, and Republicans all competed to maintain or establish themselves as a major party. While the Democrats and Republicans became the two dominant parties by 1860, the question of which parties would survive was in doubt throughout most of the 1850s. For instance, the Know-Nothings were the major second party in the Northeast as late as 1855, and the North American Party polled 22 percent of the vote in the presidential contest of 1856. Some politicians and voters changed party several times during the decade, such as the opportunistic Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, who went from the Democrats to the Know-Nothings to the North Americans to the Republicans in the space of five years. Though most were not as nimble as Banks, the increasingly proslavery stance of the Democrats combined with the collapse of the Whig and Free Soil parties forced a majority of the voters and politicians to change their party at least once between 1852 and 1856. Despite the numerous choices available in the 1850s, the vast majority of liberal republicans followed one of two paths to the Republican Party by 1856, coming from either the Democratic Party or the radical antislavery parties. The liberal republicans' political experiences in the chaos of the 1850s demonstrate their concern with certain issues and help explain their expectation that new political parties could succeed in displacing existing organizations.16

It is telling that most liberal republicans did not travel some of the more common paths to the Republican Party. A majority of Republicans were former (p.34) Whigs, yet only two liberal republicans remained Whigs after 1848 and went directly from that party to the Republicans. Jacob Dolson Cox's short tenure as a Whig hardly counts; he became a Whig in 1852 after graduating from Oberlin College and began working with the Free Soilers within a year. Two years later he was helping to organize the Ohio Republican Party. In contrast to Cox, Samuel Bowles had been a Whig since the mid—1840s and remained one until 1855. Bowles, born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, took over operation of his family's newspaper at age eighteen and often silenced the Springfield Republican's usual antislavery position during campaigns to support Whig candidates. According to his biographer, “the paper was governed by loyalty to an individual and a party, rather than an idea,” and “in comparison with Mr. Bowles's course in later years, it is noticeable how thoroughly during this period he was swayed by the allegiance and enthusiasm of a party, when that party had no longer any distinctive principles.” The party loyalty of Bowles was symbolic of the change in Whig political philosophy since its original antipartyism in the 1830s, for starting in 1840 the Whigs had begun stressing that members had a duty to party. Influential Whigs argued in 1848 that since Zachary Taylor's nomination had followed regular procedures, delegates and constituents had an obligation to support him, since “the integrity and success of a party depend on its rigid adherence to this code.” Eric Foner explains that Whigs leaving their crumbling party in the mid—1850s became the conservative and moderate core of the Republican Party, often stressing the importance of party loyalty. Bowles, for example, backed Nathaniel Banks for governor of Massachusetts in 1857, when many leading Radicals refused to support him because of his ties with the nativist Know-Nothings.17

While several liberal republicans had been Whigs in the 1850s, none joined the nativist parties in the North, such as the Know-Nothings and the North Americans, that seemed poised for dominance in the mid—1850s. In 1854 the Know-Nothings in Massachusetts captured 63 percent of the vote and elected every state office and almost every member of the legislature. One historian has estimated that 78 percent of the Free Soilers, including most of the leaders, voted the Know-Nothing ticket. Charles Francis Adams was one of the few Free Soilers in Massachusetts not to join the Know-Nothings, and he complained that “four fifths of the organization has left the standard of freedom to enlist itself against a shadow.” A few weeks after the election, however, Adams decided that the loss of the “office seekers” had purified the Free Soil Party, which encouraged him to become more active in politics. Adams' experience appears common, since the Know-Nothings also showed strength in New York and Ohio, but no future liberal republicans joined them in those states. Their rejection of the Know-Nothings indicates a differentiation between leavin parties (p.35) for principle, as they did in creating the Free Soil Party, and political opportunism, for in several instances it would have been in the liberal republicans' best interest to join the Know-Nothings. Their overwhelming rejection of nativism in the 1850s also contrasts sharply with historians' depiction of them as antiforeigner elitists during Reconstruction.18

Many liberal republicans refused to compromise their antislavery and anti-nativist principles in the early 1850s and therefore avoided all of the major parties. Adams and Edward Atkinson condemned the Free Soilers' coalition with the Democrats in Massachusetts. Atkinson wrote to a friend in 1850, “I don't like the coalition and can't brag about the state. We may gain a U.S. Senator but I think we shall lose in the end.” Adams suspected that Charles Sumner bargained away Free Soil principles to secure his Senate seat in 1851, and publicly attacked him a few years later for supporting the Free Soil–Democratic coalition's new state constitution. In a speech at Quincy, Massachusetts, Adams charged that Sumner had “listened to the siren song of expediency” and had “bowed his neck to the iron rod of party.” With the collapse of the Free Soil Party, a few liberal republicans decided to operate outside of party structures. As treasurer of the organization Citizens of Brookline in Aid of the Free-State Cause in Kansas, Atkinson helped raise over a thousand dollars to equip John Brown with rifles and ammunition. At the same time Horace White served as assistant secretary for the Chicago branch of the National Kansas Committee, which armed three hundred men sent to defend the Topeka government in 1856. The liberal republicans who remained outside of the major parties before joining the Republicans, including Carl Schurz and Charles Francis Adams' sons, became Radical Republicans before the Civil War. According to Foner, the radicals “had a very expedient attitude toward political parties—they viewed them as means, not as ends, and they were ready to abandon a party if it would help further the antislavery cause.” He finds that “the radicals repudiated the principle of party loyalty if it meant that party members were bound to support the policies and nominees of their party even when they disagreed with them.” Even among the Republican radicals the liberal republicans held a particularly strong disdain for party orthodoxy. While radicals such as Sumner and Henry Wilson cared more for principle than party harmony, Adams still thought both had abandoned some of their principles in the early 1850s to form the Free Soil–Democratic coalition in Massachusetts.19

Although Adams did not want to form a coalition with the Democrats in Massachusetts, many future liberal republicans became Republicans straight from the Democratic Party. After supporting the Free Soil Party in 1848, Bryant, David Dudley Field, and Don Piatt returned to the Democratic Party, remaining there until becoming Republicans in 1856. Ohio lawyer Roeliff Brinkerhoff (p.36) and Cincinnati Commercial editor Murat Halstead also remained active Democrats through 1856, as did Lyman Trumbull, who assured the Senate in July that “I had always been a Democrat. I am so still, and expect to continue so.” By the end of 1856, however, the Democratic Party's proslavery principles and subservience to the South drove them into the Republican Party. David Dudley Field revived charges of a Slave Power conspiracy, charging that the Democratic Party had “fallen into the hands of office-holders and political adventurers, serving as the tools of a slaveholding oligarchy.” Bryant shared Field's view, but was also cautious of the new Republican Party, telling his brother in a private letter that “I am not a very firm believer in the honesty of parties. All parties include all sorts of men, and the moment a party becomes strong the rogues are attracted to it, and immediately try to manage it.” Halstead feared that both Democrats and Republicans, more concerned with offices than principle, would avoid the slavery question in 1856, and he titled his published notes on the conventions Trimmers, Trucklers, and Temporizers. The Democratic-Republicans distrusted political parties because they felt that theirs had been corrupted by the Slave Power. Unlike many Whigs, who were forced to leave their crumbling party, the Democrats had to deal with the pain of leaving an established party that was still strong. They did have to make the choice between party and principle.20

Many Democratic-Republicans also differed from the Whig-Republicans on several matters of principle. The Whig-Republicans generally favored a national bank, protective tariffs, internal improvements, and a strong federal government. In constrast, as Eric Foner explains, “Most Democratic-Republicans came from a tradition of strict construction of the Constitution, rigid govern-mental economy, and hostility to tariffs, corporations, banks, and monopolies.” In addition, since the former Democrats “viewed the states as the locus of governmental action,” Foner finds that “they were extremely fearful of centralized power in Washington.” All of the liberal republicans originally from the Democratic Party exhibited these traits, from Bryant with his advocacy of free trade to Trumbull with his respect for the Constitution. Many of the Republican radicals, such as Adams, Schurz, White, and Atkinson, shared the Democratic-Republicans' opposition to traditional Whig economic policies. Adams, for instance, compared the “stupendous oligarchy” of the Slave Power to the national bank and tariffs. Schurz also linked the threat of the Slave Power to other dangers to liberty, arguing, “Let the slave power or any other political or economic interest tell us that we must think and say and invent and discover nothing which is against its demands, and we must interrupt and give up the harmony of our development, or fight the tyrannical pretension, whatever shape it may assume.” The Democratic-Republicans and Radical Republicans (p.37) in the 1850s differed from the Whig-Republicans in expectations both for political parties and for the federal government.21

The liberal republicans continued to articulate their vision of political parties even as the Republican Party became established in the late 1850s. Schurz told a crowd in 1858, “Another danger for the safety of our institutions, and perhaps the most formidable one, arises from the general propensity of political parties and public men to act on a policy of mere expediency, and to sacrifice principle to local and temporary success.” He lectured the Bostonians that “you hate kingcraft, and you would sacrifice your fortunes and your lives in order to prevent its establishment on the soil of this Republic. But let me tell you that the rule of political parties which sacrifice principle to expediency, is no less dangerous, no less disastrous, no less aggressive, of no less a despotic a nature, than the rule of monarchs.” Unprincipled political parties, Schurz warned, “will help to introduce a system of action into our politics which will gradually undermine the very foundations upon which our republican edifice rests.” Charles Francis Adams struck a similar note about the nature of political parties in a May 1860 speech before Congress entitled “The Republican Party a Necessity.” Adams defended the right of citizens to create political parties, but with the understanding that parties should exist only for certain reasons. He asked, “Is it to be pretended, then, that we, whose rights are liable to be deeply affected by the preponderance in the public councils of such a [slave] power, have no right to associate and organize with the intent to guard against its bad effects?” Adams insisted that “the party thus associated has no purpose which it seeks to conceal … . Its leading idea is reform, total and fundamental.” Before the Civil War many Southerners and Democrats did attack the Republicans as a sectional party dangerous to the survival of the Union, but dedicating an entire speech to defending the mere existence of the party shows Adams' attitude toward parties. Adams thought political parties should be organizations created to advocate reform.22

Liberal republicans reinforced their public rhetoric about political parties in their actions and in private letters. Concerned with the relationship between the Know-Nothings and Republicans in Massachusetts, Schurz asked a friend whether the Republicans in Massachusetts will “at last learn that our principles cannot be victorious unless they are clear, pure and consistent?—that by trades and bargains we are bound to lose our honor and the victory at the same time?” In New York Bryant and Fields struck out against corruption in both their old party, the Democrats, and their new party, the Republicans. Field led one of the earliest movements for civil service reform in 1857, when he tried to limit the ability of New York City's Democratic mayor to appoint city officials. In the spring of 1860 Bryant ran repeated editorials in the Evening Post criticizing (p.38) the Republican-controlled state legislature for corruption. The old animosity between Whigs and Democrats certainly played a part in the intraparty squabbles, as former Whigs controlled the legislature. Former Whig Thurlow Weed, a powerful Republican boss and longtime enemy of Bryant, had obtained the promise of large contributions to the Republican Party campaign fund from promoters of New York City street railways in return for guiding the franchises through the state legislature. In a private letter to the Republican governor, Bryant asked that he veto the city railroad bills passed by the legislature, warning, “It is not easy to conceive how intense is the disgust and vehement is the indignation which these corrupt measures have awakened.” Bryant doubted “if we have ever had so corrupt a legislature as we have at present,” and insisted, “party considerations are not the proper ones for deciding this question. The bills are unrighteous.” Regardless of their dubious virtue, the governor did not veto the bills.23

Bryant's analysis of the political situation in early 1860 encapsulates both the liberal republican attitude toward parties and the flexibility of Civil War–era politics. Writing to his business partner about William H. Seward's prospects for the Republican presidential nomination, Bryant explained that “the great difficulty which I have in regard to him is this, that by the election of a Republican President the slavery question is settled, and that with Seward for President, it will be the greatest good-luck, a special and undeserved favor of Providence, if every honest democrat of the Republican Party be not driven into the opposition within a twelve month after he enters the White House.” Bryant saw the Republican Party as an organization dedicated to solving the slavery question and to reforming society. Once the Republican Party achieved its goals, however, Bryant foresaw the possibility of another political realignment. To Bryant and many liberal republicans, the Republican Party was another temporary organization.24

The election of 1860 did little to change liberal republicans' attitudes toward political parties, and they consistently refused to operate according to party discipline during the Civil War, demonstrating their continued perception of the Republican Party as a temporary reform organization. The secession crisis showed that the liberal republicans, like many in the country, considered the party a fragile alliance. South Carolina quickly reacted to Abraham Lincoln's election as president in 1860, passing a bill on November 10 for a convention to consider secession. While other Southern states followed South Carolina's lead, President-elect Lincoln and most other prominent Republicans remained silent, hoping time and Union sentiment in the South would calm the situation. Meanwhile the House of Representatives selected a congressman from each (p.39) state to create the Committee of Thirty-Three to consider the sectional crisis. The congressman from Arkansas introduced a resolution to the committee on December 13, stating that “the existing discontents among the southern people” were not without cause and that such additional guarantees of “their particular rights and interests … as or will or should allay them” were “indispensable to the perpetuation of the Union.” Henry Adams, serving as his father's secretary, wrote to his brother Charles that night of their father's distress at the passage of the resolution, which they thought yielded too much ground. He warned, “There's no immediate danger, though it embroils things badly and will inevitably break the Republican line.” At the end of the letter Henry Adams reiterated his concerns, explaining, “I'm afraid however I only speak exact truth when I tell you to prepare yourself for a complete disorganization of our party. If the South show any liberal spirit, the reaction will sweep us out dreadfully and thin our ranks to a skeleton.”25

The response of liberal republicans confirmed Henry Adams's concern for the Republican Party's weakness. Carl Schurz wrote to Lincoln just a few days after the resolution passed, threatening to leave the party if it compromised. He told his wife that the letter declared that “I should never submit to a compromise, and should leave the party the moment it abandoned its principles.” He insisted, “I have been reflecting on the question for two days, and I shall not yield.” Other liberal republicans began to fear the Republican Party would yield, however, when the Senate committee on the sectional crisis began considering a number of measures, collectively called the Crittenden Compromise, that included reconfirming the Missouri Compromise line allowing slavery in all territory south of lattitude 36″30′. William Cullen Bryant wrote to Lincoln on Christmas Day, explaining that “the restoration of the Missouri Compromise would disband the Republican Party. Any other concession recognizing the right of slavery to protection or even existence in the territories would disgust and discourage the large majority of Republicans in this state and cool their interest in the incoming administration down to the freezing point.” He warned Lincoln, “Whatever else be done [about] the slavery question, so far as it is a federal question [it] must remain as it is or the Republican party is annihilated.” The Republicans did not yield, but two months later Congress was still considering the Crittenden Compromise as Lincoln made his way East for his inauguration. By late February Samuel Bowles had become so frustrated that he confided to a friend, “I have a great faith in everything but the Republican party, and that, if it chooses, ‘may go hang.’ … I mean to be as loyal as possible, and that isn't very loyal.” Before Lincoln could even take office as the first Republican president, numerous liberal republicans threatened to leave and expected “a complete disorganization” of the party.26

(p.40) Bowles' disgust with normal mid-nineteenth-century maneuvering for patronage reflected the attitude of many liberal republicans during the Civil War, an attitude that was also common throughout the country. Most Americans expected that political parties would cease their partisanship during wartime, and that the rhetoric of both parties during the war would generally condemn normal party politics. Professor Francis Lieber, one of the antebellum advocates of political parties in a republic, published a pamphlet entitled No Party Now But All for Our Country, in which he insisted, “We do not pursue truth, or cultivate science, by party dogmas; and we do not, we must not, love and defend our country and our liberty according to party rules.” Lieber deeply influenced Henry Demarest Lloyd, a student of his at the time who later wrote the invitations to the first national meeting of the liberal republicans, but Mark E. Neely Jr. finds that generally “nineteenth-century politicians did not trifle with the patronage, for it provided the basis of their party organization,” and he observes that this continued into the Civil War. Despite the no-party rhetoric, the Republican Party eventually continued the spoils system. The liberal republicans started criticizing the Republicans' use of the spoils system, a vital piece of party machinery, before Lincoln took office, and continued their criticisms throughout the war.27

Much of the liberal republicans' early condemnation of the spoils system and corruption focused on Lincoln's consideration of Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania for his cabinet. To the liberal republicans, Cameron's reputation for corruption symbolized all that was wrong with political parties' use of the spoils system. Bryant told Lincoln that “in the late election, the Republican Party, throughout the Union, struggled not only to overthrow the party that sought the extension of slavery, but also to secure a pure and virtuous administration,” and warned that “if such men as Mr. Cameron are to compose the Cabinet … we shall not have succeeded in the second.” Trumbull counseled Lincoln that Cameron was a “trading, unreliable politician” who would endanger the administration. Horace White became so upset at the thought of the corrupt Cameron in the administration that he proclaimed to a friend that “if Cameron goes into the Cabinet I go out of the party. I can stand a good deal of ‘pizen’ in a political way but I can't stand that.” A few days later White reiterated to Trumbull that he could not belong to a party “which places thieves in charge of the most important public interests.” Just a few months after Cameron became secretary of War, Murat Halstead publicly assailed him in the Cincinnati Commercial. While Halstead admitted that “no one ever suspected Cameron of honesty,” he insisted that Cameron had proven himself so incompetent and corrupt “it would be of greater advantage to the country than to gain a battle, to have Cameron kicked out of the Cabinet.”28

(p.41) As the Civil War progressed, the liberal republicans continued to assault their party's own use of the spoils system. Collector of the New York Custom House Hiram Barney was one of the few Republicans to take the no-party rhetoric seriously and not use the spoils system to reward faithful Republicans. His reward for such idealism was a flood of complaints from fellow Republicans wanting positions for their people and appeals to Lincoln that Barney be removed for ineffectual political judgment, which the Seward-Weed faction of the Republican Party in New York finally accomplished in 1864. Bryant's long-standing hatred of Seward, partly because of the corruption associated with him, increased his outrage over Barney's dismissal. Encouraged to write a letter to Lincoln on another matter, Bryant told his wife, “After I learned that he had appointed Simeon Draper, the old pipe-layer, Collector at New York, instead of Barney—and appointed him for the reason that he was an active electioneerer, I would not write the letter.” Bryant explained to a friend, “I am so utterly disgusted with Lincoln's behavior that I cannot muster respectful terms in which to write to him.” Lincoln's actions, though, were perfectly valid in the context of nineteenth-century party politics. Bryant's vehement denunciation of Barney's dismissal for political reasons, even considering that Bryant had recommended Barney's appointment in 1861, indicates a true refusal to accept the patronage system. Several months before Barney's dismissal Bryant had publicly supported a civil service reform bill in Congress. “This bill,” proclaimed Bryant in the New York Evening Post, “would do away with what has become one of the most serious vices in our political life, the ‘Spoils System.’” He warned that the civil service had become “through the circumstances of the present war, so vast as to be dangerous to the nation, if it should chance to fall into the hands of unscrupulous and wicked men.”29

The liberal republicans also attacked directly the corruption often associated with the patronage system. Halstead privately complained that Lincoln “is opposed to stealing, but can't see the stealing that is done. I use the mildest phrase when I say he is a weak, miserably weak man.” Edwin Godkin confessed to Frederick Law Olmsted, “I am sorry to say I [am] perfectly satisfied the leading republican politicians are worse than the democrats, inasmuch as they are fully as corrupt while making far more pretensions to honesty.” Some liberal republicans even publicly charged their party with corruption. During a trial, David Dudley Field—an ex-Democrat—characterized fellow Republican Thurlow Weed—an ex-Whig—as “a leader of that band of profligate men who surround and disgrace Congress, the Legislature and the Common Council, seeking grants of franchise, lands, offices and jobs; corrupting, bribing, soliciting, misleading; living upon the country; public plunderers.” Soon after the Republicans took control of the federal government White contended in the (p.42) Chicago Tribune that the “tone of morality” was “considerably lower” than it had been before and that “the frauds and attempted frauds in the treasury … came so fast and from such unexpected quarters, that one is bewildered in contemplating them.” The Republicans regularly attacked corruption and the spoils system, but usually only noticed the sleaze of Democrats or dissident Republicans. Most politicians recognized that the spoils system and some corruption were necessary to maintain organized political parties in mid-nineteenth-century America, so Republican leaders whitewashed their own party's corruption for the sake of unity. Some of the liberal republicans, though, refused to remain silent for the sake of party unity and assailed their own party for corruption and use of the spoils system, an indication they took these issues seriously and possessed different expectations for political parties.30

The Springfield Republican consistently demonstrated its independent attitude toward political parties throughout the Civil War. With the Union war effort stagnant in late 1861, the newspaper wondered why people were criticizing it for printing editorials disapproving of how the Lincoln administration was prosecuting the war: “Nor can we comprehend the notion that the active and devoted support of the government in its war upon the rebels requires a man to endorse and praise every act of the administration, or to keep silence where he cannot approve.” Almost two years later the Republican was still defending its outspokenness during the middle of the war, insisting, “A party is not an end, but a means. It is not something to be served, but it is something to serve with.” On the day before Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, the newspaper published a long editorial on what loyalty to party and country meant. According to the Republican, “Frauds are endured, thefts are covered up, all sorts of public criminals are systematically whitewashed—and all because of this absurd idea that the true way to support a party is to maintain the infallibility of all its leaders and office holders.” The newspaper explained, “The true idea of loyalty to party, on the contrary, requires the more relentless exposure and condemnation of the faults and crimes of its representatives.” With friends like the Republican, the party's leaders hardly needed the Democrats to criticize them.31

The liberal republicans' resistance to Republican Party orthodoxy included opposition to many of the party's economic policies. In an attempt to broaden their base of support, former Whigs expanded the Republican platform in 1860 to include planks advocating “immediate and efficient aid” in the construction of a Pacific railroad, and protective tariffs. Secession left the Republicans in control of Congress and able to implement their economic agenda. In addition, the demands of the Civil War soon forced the Republicans to confront (p.43) the nation's inadequate tax system and the shortage of specie by expanding the government's role in the economy. During the first Civil War Congress the Republicans passed such economic legislation as the Union Pacific Railroad Act and the Legal Tender Act. Many Republicans with a Whig background supported the economic legislation for ideological reasons, as they sought a more activist state involved with the economy. Other Republicans, principally those of Democratic origins, disliked the legislation, but supported it as a war or party measure. The liberal republicans, however, appeared more concerned with their antebellum economic and constitutional principles. Even during the middle of a civil war they often opposed their own party's economic legislation.32

At the same time the United States was fighting a rebel army in the border state of Missouri in March 1862, Bryant's New York Evening Post disparaged the necessity of Congress sponsoring railroad construction. The Post cautioned readers that “the pressure brought to bear upon Congress to give aid to several railroads in the country is very great. In some cases a powerful lobby has been organized. Ten or fifteen millions are asked for by all the railroad petitioners before Congress, and every one asks aid upon the ground of ‘military necessity.’” The paper insisted, “All of this peculiar kind of legislation will have to be postponed to a season of greater prosperity.” Bryant was still concerned with the corruption associated with lobbyists and with maintaining fiscal discipline. A few months later Trumbull objected to parts of the Union Pacific Railroad Bill that he thought infringed on the rights of states. While in favor of using public land in the territories to build a transcontinental railroad, Trumbull argued that the federal government had no right to make internal improvements, inside of states. He told the Senate that the Democratic Party “was right, in my judgment, upon a great many questions. The old Democratic Party was very much averse to going into states to make improvements.” A week later, Trumbull warned the Senate that he could not support the bill if it continued to undermine states' rights. Trumbull eventually voted for the Pacific Railroad Bill, but only after further attempts to protect the rights of states.33

The liberal republican opposition to the Union Pacific Railroad Bill was mild compared to their vehement and sustained denunciation of the Legal Tender Bill. With the Union running out of specie, Congress began to consider a Legal Tender Bill making the federally issued United States paper notes lawful money for all debts, public and private, throughout the nation. Leonard P. Curry's analysis shows that it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Union economy to continue functioning without passage of the Legal Tender Bill. While Congress considered the bill, liberal republicans declared it unnecessary, unconstitutional, immoral, and dangerous to the economy. Horace White, a longtime abolitionist, compared making paper money legal tender to slavery in (p.44) the Chicago Tribune. William Cullen Bryant repeatedly attacked making treasury notes legal tender in the New York Evening Post, asserting that “the arguments of those who insist that the measure is required by the necessity of the times are utterly without foundation” and “that its constitutionality is so doubtful that it has been denied by some of our ablest jurists.” The Post predicted that passage of the Legal Tender Bill would lead to “the evil of debasing the whole currency of the country, the impoverishment of persons of small means, the responsibility of a measure that oppresses the poor, and the dreadful collapse of credit and the wide-spread ruin which will be the closing act of the drama.” The Post's editorials were not public posturing, as Bryant privately lobbied Senator Charles Sumner to vote against the bill, explaining that “the idea of a necessity for the measure is the shallowest of delusions.”34

Despite liberal republican pressure, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the Legal Tender Bill. The continued failure of the liberal republicans to effect policy indicates how little influence they had; this led to a growing sense of frustration that, added to their principled party independence, made them even more outspoken. Within days the liberal republicans again blasted the bill in newspaper editorials. Samuel Bowles's Springfield Republican was the mildest, contending that “the legal tender clause is injudicious, unconstitutional and unnecessary, but it can be submitted to if such other measures are linked with it as will preserve the notes from depreciation.” White charged in the Chicago Tribune that “it is facetiously called a ‘war measure.’ Rag-tag and bobtail are now coming in as fast as possible.” Once more the Post was the fiercest critic, insisting, “That the constitution has been violated we have no manner of doubt. That the necessity of making the notes of the Treasury a legal tender did not exist, is to us quite clear. That the consequences of the bill will, in various ways, be mischievous, is a corollary from these premises.” Though Republican senators overwhelmingly supported the bill—only three voted against it—the Post promised “that we have given the names of those who voted for the legal-tender clause, and of those who voted against it, for future reference.” Bryant wrote to Lincoln asking him to veto the legal-tender legislation, but the president signed it into law.35

The liberal republicans continued their fight against the legal-tender clause and Greenbacks throughout the war. With the Union war effort bogging down and Lincoln's reelection in doubt in early July 1864, Edward Atkinson went to Washington and lobbied against the use of paper currency to finance the war. A week after Lincoln's reelection in 1864 and with the Civil War still raging, Charles Francis Adams Jr. wrote to his father that “the management of our finances now seems to me not only the greatest but the most inviting field for usefulness which this country affords.” In a series of letters he explained, “The (p.45) time has come for at least the enunciation of correct principles. A return to a specie basis for our expenditures is of course the end sought for.” Even in an era of ideological politics and political flexibility, the liberal republicans' dogged commitment to principle and lack of party discipline during a civil war was extreme.36

The liberal republicans publicly opposed some of their own party's economic policies in newspapers such as the New York Evening Post and the Spring-field Republican. Their development of an independent press during the Civil War era challenged the very nature of the political system. Before the war political parties had directly funded and operated the vast majority of newspapers. Independent newspapers were also affiliated with parties, and they engaged in public issues and were highly partisan, but they relied on circulation and advertising for revenue, giving them editorial independence. Independence did not mean political neutrality, but rather the lack of adamant party allegiance that other newspapers displayed, often for financial reasons. The Post and the Republican were among the few antebellum independent newspapers. Bowles declared the Republican's independence on February 3, 1855, proclaiming, “Whatever it has been in the past, no more shall its distinction be that of a partisan organ, blindly following the will of party and stupidly obeying its behests. It has its principles and purposes. But these are above mere party success.” He predicted, “Whenever men and parties are stumbling blocks to the triumph of those principles, they will be as boldly opposed and denounced.” Bryant, meanwhile, had shown a willingness to criticize his own party since the 1840s when he was an avowed Democrat, and that did not change during the war. When Lincoln complained to Bryant in the summer of 1864 that the Post was assailing him, Bryant responded that “it was not intended to proceed beyond the bounds of respectful criticism, such as the Evening Post, ever since I have had anything to do with it, has always permitted itself to use tow[ard] every successive administration of the government.”37

Toward the end of the Civil War several liberal republicans in addition to Bowles and Bryant took control of formerly Republican newspapers and made them independent. Starting as reporters in the mid—1850s, Murat Halstead and Horace White earned reputations during the war for muckraking and for controversial stands. White regularly attacked the Republican cabinet, and Mark W. Summers has noted that Halstead's reports made “it clear that news mattered to him more than political apologia.” By the end of the war Halstead and White owned and edited two of the most important papers in the country, the Cincinnati Commercial and the Chicago Tribune, respectively. Summers writes that for men like Halstead and White, “professional journalism backgrounds made them think differently of news than party shills might,” and “the personal (p.46) pride of self-made men inclined them to go their own way in any case.” The Commercial had always been somewhat independent—once comparing fascination with party to original sin—but Halstead made the paper still more independent. He tried to insure that paying advertisers, let alone political parties, could not influence its editorial policy. The masthead of the Commercial blazed, “An Independent, but not a Non-partisan Newspaper.” In contrast, the Chicago Tribune had been one of the most reliable Republican papers until Horace White took control in 1865 and made it the most powerful independent newspaper in the West. In the East, Edwin L. Godkin became editor of the new weekly newspaper The Nation in early 1865 with the stipulation that he would enjoy absolute editorial freedom. Born and raised in Ireland by English parents, the thirty-four-year-old Godkin had enjoyed a successful career as a reporter, working for the London Daily Times before emigrating to the United States in 1856 and writing for the New York Times. The Nation was his first opportunity to run his own paper, and its prospectus announced, “The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred.”38

While it would be easy to dismiss the proclamations of Bowles or Godkin as mere rhetoric, it was more than a pose. “Independence meant a readiness to criticize one's own party,” according to Mark W. Summers, and “by 1870 many of the leading Republican ‘independents’ were going further still. They had begun to question the very basis of politics, and … the right of politicians to define the issues at all.” The political independence liberal republicans had demonstrated throughout the Civil War, from threatening to leave the Republican Party during the secession crisis to opposing their own party's legislation, became explicit with the emergence of the independent press. Newspapers such as the Springfield Republican and the Chicago Tribune were intended to provide a check on political parties, making sure they conformed to liberal republican expectations formed by decades of experience.39

This long record of dissent against Republican practices and policies provides the necessary context for evaluating the liberal republicans' critique of parties when they sought to seize control of the Republican Party in the late 1860s and early 1870s, for without that context their statements can seem more self-serving than they were. Some of their dissent reflected years of accumulated frustration from not being able to enact their policies, but a significant portion also came from longstanding principles and independence. Weeks after Schurz led the Liberal Republican bolt in Missouri he insisted that “I have never been (p.47) one to look upon a party as a deity that has supernatural claims upon my veneration,” and he questioned the value of party discipline. As Schurz became more estranged from the Republican hierarchy he argued that party discipline “is enforced by continual appeals to mercenary motives, and by practices in their very nature corrupting,” and he criticized the Republicans for “that blind and reckless party spirit which will complacently wink at and be ready to defend any wrong when perpetrated by a friend, which it would most violently denounce when merely attempted by a political opponent.” By the spring of 1872 he declared that “if there be a party spirit abroad which so subjugates the hearts of men that they welcome error and deception when the truth stands in the way of party interest … then, sir, it is time for the despotism of party to be broken.” The tendency of historians has been to dismiss the liberal republican attitude toward political parties as a cynical means to rationalize their movement, and some of their rhetoric certainly was situational. Their attacks on party discipline did come at the same time that they were trying to undermine the leaders of the Republican Party, but their concept of party also culminated two decades of words and actions. The liberal republicans consciously drew on their experiences since the founding of the Free Soil Party in 1848 to articulate a long-held vision of political parties.40

The liberal republicans had lived in an atmosphere of constant party turmoil and saw little reason for it to stop. Less than a year after the Civil War ended, the Cincinnati Commercial ran a series of editorials discussing the possibility of party rearrangement. According to the newspaper, “It would be strange indeed, if such convulsions as this country has experienced within the last five years, should not break in pieces the old political parties; and he must be of dull perception who does not see it going on.” A month later the Commercial reiterated its position: “We have stated that there will be a reorganization of Political parties, and that the new parties that will come to pass will be formed according to the vital issues before the country.” The Commercial soon cited other newspapers to support its contention that the old party organizations were breaking up. “Much is said in the public journals of a new political party, the fact being generally recognized that out of the period of war giving rise to confusion and singular complications of the present, will grow political organizations materially different from those of the past.” Predicating new parties was not guessing, insisted the Commercial: “There is more than the mere appreciation of the probability of this result. There is a popular consciousness that something of the kind is going on.”41

References to their shared political past filled liberal republican speeches and newspapers. As early as 1866 The Nation discussed the prospects of a third party by analyzing the nation's political history. “The organization of a third party is (p.48) not an impossible task,” explained the newspaper, for “the Anti-Masons, the Whigs, the Liberty party, the Free Soilers, the Know-Nothings, the Republicans, and the Unionists, were all third parties, some of which rose to great power.” The Chicago Tribune insisted in 1870 that “the same necessity which in 1848 induced William C. Bryant and his journal, the New York Evening Post, to abandon the democratic party … now induces such leaders … to effect such a reconstruction and reorganization of the political parties.” Analyzing events in 1871, the Cincinnati Commercial remarked, “We had incidents somewhat analogous to this at the time of the breaking up of the Whig party.” Schurz would remark at the Liberal Republican Cincinnati Convention in 1872, “I recognize here the faces of some of the old guard who, in 1856 and 1860, rallied around the Republican flag.” The liberal republicans' allusions to the Free Soil Party and the origins of the Republican Party were in part an effort to portray themselves as the true Republicans, compared to people like Grant who had been Democrats in the 1850s. They also referred to past party experiences, however, to explain their vision of political parties.42

The liberal republicans considered reform the central mission of political parties. The Nation contended, “The business of a party is not to exist simply and divide the offices, but to take positive and incessant action on a great variety of subjects.” According to the Cincinnati Commercial, “Our doctrine is that under a Republican form of government there are two legitimate political parties—the party of the Administration and the party of the Opposition—that parties should have no other attachments than those naturally belonging to the friends and opponents of certain measures.” Schurz declared, “Party! What more should it be than a mere engine to accomplish objects of public good?” He argued, “The best materials for progressive reforms, the true unselfish reformatory spirit; as well as the healthiest impulses of individual independence, are still to be found among the elements out of which the Republican party is formed.” The Springfield Republican explained that reform was the basis of the Republican Party, that it “was founded to be a party of progress; to advocate and exemplify a higher political morality than it found in vogue among existing organizations: to be a wholesome and quickening leaven in the republic.”43

Power, according to the liberal republicans, eventually corrupted all political parties. The call for the 1872 Cincinnati Convention proclaimed, “All parties become corrupt; all parties sacrifice public welfare to retain power.” Cox wrote to Schurz, “Ambiguities and avoidance of issues of principle are the life of decaying parties.” The Republican Party was no exception. Schurz lamented, “The Republican party has not escaped the fate of all other parties who grow very strong, and are very long in the almost unlimited enjoyment of authority. (p.49) The opportunities of the war developed a spirit of jobbery and corruption, which to a dangerous degree, has pervaded our political organism.” The Spring-field Republican agreed that the Civil War had changed the Republican Party: “The war imposed new duties upon it, and also materially changed its character and composition … . It has been a fiery ordeal for the republican party,—one that has left deep scars if not fatal wounds. The real or supposed necessities of the war accustomed it to doubtful exertions of power, and to something very like a contempt for constitutional checks and written laws.” The newspaper warned that “the republican party, under its present leadership and control, is submitting to the same influences that gained possession of the democratic party, and brought it through corruption to ruin.” Trumbull told the Senate that “the Republican Party can only maintain its ascendancy and ought only maintain its ascendancy by being a party of purity, of honesty, of fidelity to the Constitution; and when it becomes a mere spoils party, and is used to cover up frauds and dishonesty, it will soon receive the condemnation of an indignant people.”44

The liberal republicans expected Republican voters to leave the party if it deviated from its reform origins. Schurz contended, “It is not only desirable but indispensable that a healthy spirit of individual independence and self-criticism inside of political parties be encouraged and developed, even at the expense of party discipline.” He predicted back in 1868, “the masses of the Republican Party are now, as they always were, governed by strong moral impulses. They honestly want to do right. They will abandon the party than by a blind support encourage it to go wrong.” The liberal republicans based their assumptions of voter behavior on past experience. The Cincinnati Commercial warned, “The American people have shown themselves too independent of party or organization and machinery to justify the belief that they will be true to any party which has proved false to itself.” Another time the paper cautioned that “the party whip was a very useful instrument of discipline a quarter of a century ago when it was considered almost as serious to lose caste with one's party as to lose it in the church,” but now “the party is no longer the prime consideration.” The political upheaval of the last two decades gave credence to the liberal republicans' expectations for voter independence, yet The Nation was not as sanguine in 1866: “No one can be more averse to the common subservience of Americans to party leaders and party spirit than we are,” declared the newspaper, and “it is to be desired that the American people may grow more and more independent of party.” A few years later the The Nation reminded it readers, “Treachery to party is the very life and soul of political improvement—all new and progressive parties being made up of traitors and ‘deserters’ from older camps; as, for instance, the Republican organization itself, which is nothing else than a (p.50) collection of unfaithful Whigs, Democrats, and Free Soilers.” Voter movement was not just a part of the political process; liberal republicans considered “treachery to party” beneficial to politics.45

The liberal republicans still perceived a flexible political environment in the early 1870s that would lend itself to voter movement. They thought that one of the few things holding the Republican Party together was the Democratic Party. According to the Springfield Republican, “The very existence of the democratic organization is an occasion of offense and menace to the Republican party,” and “so long as this offense and menace continue, so long, practically, the republican party is likely to maintain itself in unity.” The Democratic Party's New Departure in the 1860s—their reaching out to moderates and trying to recover from association with the secessionist South—seemed to indicate its weakness. When prominent Democrats began speculating about not running a national ticket in 1872, the liberal republicans rejoiced. “The democratic party has been an unconscionable while in dying,” exclaimed the Republican, “but the final hour seems to have come.” The Cincinnati Commercial insisted, “The restoration of the Democratic party to power is utterly impossible.” Even in private, liberal republicans such as Cox discussed “the new crystallization of parties.”46

For decades those who became liberal republicans had conceived of political parties as temporary reform organizations and had acted on these convictions during an era of political flexibility. In the 1840s antislavery principles led them to leave established parties and create the Free Soil Party. In the 1850s they clung to their reform principles in a political maelstrom that saw the destruction of the Free Soil and Whig parties, the flash of nativist parties, and the emergence of a Republican Party dedicated to containing slavery. During the Civil War, the liberal republicans practiced the nonpartisanship many preached, maintaining their independence and fighting over principle with their own party in the midst of a national crisis. During the late 1860s and early 1870s they continued to see political parties as temporary reform organizations in a politically flexible system. The liberal republican movement's attempt to reorganize the political parties to advance reform fit with their experiences since 1848. Analyzing the situation in 1871, David Wells concluded, “It is essentially the same as the old free soil movement.”47

Notes:

(1.) Springfield Weekly Republican, February 29, 1868; Springfield Republican, April 23, 1872.

(2.) The nine liberal republicans with Free Soil lineage are Charles Francis Adams, Edward Atkinson, Jacob Brinkerhoff, William Cullen Bryant, George Hoadly, Stanley Matthews, Horace White, David Dudley Field, and Don Piatt. The three liberal republicans active in politics in 1848 but not Free Soilers are Lyman Trumbull and Johann B. Stallo, both Democrats, and Samuel Bowles, a Whig. All thirteen of the liberal republicans whose political activity in 1856 is discernible were Republicans. Many of the liberal republicans active in politics during the late 1840s and early 1850s started their political lives as Democrats, joining the Republican Party directly in the mid-1850s or first passing through the Free Soil Party. The experiences of the former Democratic liberal republicans do not mesh with Eric Foner's generally bleak assessment of Democratic Republicans, as he reduces them to the Blairs and blames them for the worst in the (p.249) Republican Party. In 1970, Foner argued that “during the 1850s, the former Democrats took the lead in racist appeals. They represented in the most extreme degree the racism from which no portion of the Republican party could claim total freedom.” Almost two decades later he reiterated that “Democratic-Republicans … as a group, had always been the most racist element in the Republican coalition.” Foner also dismissed many Democratic-Republicans' strict construction of the Constitution, insisting that some “had a penchant for reducing complex political questions to matters of supposedly ‘plain and simple’ constitutional interpretation.” Examining the political careers of liberal republicans with Democratic origins at least partially redeems the reputation of the Democrats who came into the Republican Party. See Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War(New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 150, 267, and Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution,1863–1877(New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 218–19.

(3.) Joel Silbey, The American Political Nation, 1838–1893 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), 126.

(4.) Foner, Free Soil, 151.

(5.) Charles H. Brown, William Cullen Bryant (New York: Scribner's, 1971), 330–31, 339–40; Martin Duberman, Charles Francis Adams, 1807–1886 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1960), 124, 122; Stephen E. Maizlish, The Triumph of Sectionalism: The Transformation of Ohio Politics, 1844–1856(Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1983), 73–74, 78; John Niven, Salmon P. Chase, A Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 100–4.

(6.) Brinkerhoff, quoted in Maizlish, Triumph of Sectionalism, 104; Duberman, Adams, 111, 113, 134; William Cullen Bryant to John Howard Bryant, February 7, 1848, in The Letters of William Cullen Bryant, ed. William Cullen Bryant II and Thomas G. Voss (New York: Fordam University Press, 1975–92), 2:516–17.

(7.) Brown, Bryant, 340–42; Kinley J. Brauer, Cotton versus Conscience: Massachusetts Whig Politics and Southwestern Expansion, 1843–1848 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1967), 230–31, 237; Duberman, Adams, 138.

(8.) Niven, Chase, 105–7; Maizlish, Triumph of Sectionalism, 104. For a comprehensive discussion of events in May and June 1848 leading to the Buffalo Convention see Joseph G. Raybeck, Free Soil: The Election of 1848 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1970), 186–217.

(9.) Oliver Dyer, Phonographic Report of the Proceedings of the National Free Soil Convention at Buffalo, N.Y.(Buffalo, New York: G. H. Derby, 1848), 7, 19. For the best discussion of “the Slave Power,” see Leonard L. Richards, The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780–1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000).

(10.) Dyer, Free Soil Convention, 7–8, 26–27, 19; Duberman, Adams, 133.

(11.) Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 28–31; Mark Voss-Hubbard, “The ‘Third Party Tradition’ Reconsidered: Third Parties and American Public Life, 1830–1900,” Journal of American History 84 (December 1997): 129, 132; Mark W. Summers, The Plundering Generation: Corruption and the Crisis of the Union, 1849– 1861 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 303.

(12.) Duberman, Adams 147, 133; Rayback, Free Soil, 223, 225–26; Dyer, Free Soil Convention, 19–20; Proceedings of the Liberal Republican Convention (New York: Baker and Godwin, 1872), 19–20.

(13.) Rayback, Free Soil, 281; Duberman, Adams, 157–58; Bryant, quoted in John Mayfield, Rehearsal for Republicanism: Free Soil and the Politics of Antislavery (Port Washington, N. Y.: Kennikat Press, 1980), 141, 190.

(p.250) (14.) Henrik Boomraem V, The Formation of the Republican Party in New York: Politics and Conscience in the Antebellum North (New York: New York University Press, 1983), 14; New York Evening Post, March 14, 1850; Duberman, Adams, 179; Maizlish, Triumph of Sectionalism, 149, 155; Rayback, Free Soil, 310.

(15.) George W. Julian, Political Recollections, 1840 to 1872 (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg and Company, 1884), 337; Edward Atkinson to Ned Wild, December 27, 1848, Edward Atkinson Papers, MHS. The Free Soil origins of many delegates at the Cincinnati Convention is discussed in Matthew T. Downey, “Horace Greeley and the Politicians: The Liberal Republican Convention in 1872,” Journal of American History 54 (March 1967):730–31.

(16.) Michael F. Holt, The Political Crisis of the 1850s (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1978), 170.

(17.) Eugene David Schmiel, “The Career of Jacob Dolson Cox, 1828–1900: Soldier, Scholar, Statesman,” Ph.D. diss. (Ohio State University, 1969), 38–41; George S. Merriam, The Life and Times of Samuel Bowles (New York: Century Co., 1885), 1:80, 95; Foner, Free Soil, 19, 205–6; Holt, American Whig Party, 348–49.

(18.) Duberman, Adams, 197–98; Charles Francis Adams diary, November 14 and 24, 1854, Adams Family Papers, MHS; William E. Gienapp, Origins of the Republican Party, 1852–1856 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); John G. Sproat, “The Best Men”: Liberal Reformers in the Gilded Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), 230–31, 250–51.

(19.) Duberman, Adams, 173, 188; Edward Atkinson to Ned Pluebrick, February 25, 1850, Subscription List for Kansas, 1856, Edward Atkinson Papers, MHS; Williamson, Atkinson, 4; Logsdon, White, 28–31; Foner, Free Soil, 104, 113–14.

(20.) Trumbull, in appendix to CG, 34th Congress, 1st sess., 861; Daun van Ee, “David Dudley Field and the Reconstruction of the Law,” Ph.D diss. (The Johns Hopkins University, 1974), 131; William Cullen Bryant to John Howard Bryant, February 15, 1856, in Bryant, Letters, 3:379; Murat Halstead, Trimmers, Trucklers, and Temporizers: Notes of Murat Halstead from the Political Conventions of 1856 (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1961).

(21.) Foner, Free Soil, 168, 180, 145; Charles Francis Adams, The Republican Party a Necessity: Speech of Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts (Washington, D.C., 1860), 2–3; Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, 1:132. Earlier in this chapter I argued that Foner paints a bleak picture of Democratic-Republicans on racial issues and that this view needs some revision. I agree much more with Foner's view of the Democratic-Republicans' attitudes toward economic policy, the Constitution, and federal power.

(22.) Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, 1:65–67; Adams, Republican Party, 3, 6.

(23.) Carl Schurz to Edward L. Pierce, April 30, 1859, in Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence,1:74, 131; Ee, “Field,” 134–35; Summers, Plundering Generation,269; William Cullen Bryant to Edwin D. Morgan, April 11, 1860, in Bryant, Letters, 4:146.

(24.) William Cullen Bryant to John Bigelow, February 20, 1860, in Bryant, Letters, 4:140.

(25.) David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848–1861, Don E. Fehrenbacher, ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), 491, 523–26; Duberman, Adams, 227–29; Congressman from Arkansas quoted in Duberman, Adams, 228; Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams Jr., December 13, 1860, Adams Family Papers, MHS. For many historians the Republican victory in 1860 initiated the stabilization phase of the third, or Civil War, party system. Joel Silbey argues that the election completed party realignment, and that “by 1860 the electorate had become locked in”; Dale Baum agrees with this view. See Joel H. Silbey, A Respectable Minority: The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860–1868 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 157, and Dale Baum, The Civil War Party System: The Case of Massachusetts, 1848–1876 (Chapel Hill: University of (p.251) North Carolina Press, 1984). Richard L. McCormick sees the Civil War as establishing Republican hegemony for the rest of the nineteenth century, asserting that during the war “leaders instilled in their supporters a lifelong passion for Republicanism”; Richard L. McCormick, The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 168. Considering Civil War politics part of a stable party system, however, misses the plasticity of the era that the participants experienced. According to Michael F. Holt, “Those who lived during the nineteenth century never knew they were experiencing the realigning or stable phase of a party system … . That permanence can only be measured in hindsight.” He explains, “Neither northern voters nor politicians living during the Civil War, in sum, could be sure that either the voter alignments of 1860 or the existing political parties that had contested the political election would endure.” The liberal republicans' words and actions during the Civil War conform to Holt's analysis. See Holt, “Northern Politics during the Civil War,” in Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand, ed. James M. McPherson and William J. Cooper Jr. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998), 126. Some historians, such as Paul Kleppner, consider the Civil War as part of the realignment phase of the party system. While ascribing some flexibility to the time period, though, they still see it primarily in terms of a two-party system. Paul Kleppner, The Third Electoral System, 1853–1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979).

(26.) Carl Schurz to Margarethe Meyer Schurz, December 17, 1860, in Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, 1:168; Potter, Impending Crisis, 531, 547; William Cullen Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, December 25, 1860, in Bryant, Letters, 4:187–88; Samuel Bowles to Henry L. Dawes, February 26, 1861, in Merriam, Bowles, 1:318.

(27.) Mark E. Neely Jr., The Union Divided: Party Conflict in the Civil War North (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 9–10, 21, 23; Chester McArthur Destler, Henry Demarest Lloyd and the Empire of Reform (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1963), 23.

(28.) William Cullen Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, January 4, 1861, in Bryant, Letters, 4:198; Krug, Trumbull, 165–66; Logsdon, White, 69; Cincinnati Commercial, June 24, 1861, quoted in Donald W. Curl, Murat Halstead and the Cincinnati Commercial (Boca Raton: University Presses of Florida, 1980), 25; Summers, Plundering Generation, 294.

(29.) Neely, Union Divided, 26–29; William Cullen Bryant to Frances F. Bryant, September 7, 1864, William Cullen Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, February 25, 1861, in Bryantt, Letters, 4:403–4, 206; Bryant, in New York Evening Post, quoted in Charles Sumner: His Complete Works, George Frisbie Hoar, ed. (Boston, 1900), 2:281.

(30.) Curl, Halstead, 33; William M. Armstrong, E. L. Godkin: A Biography (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1978), 67; Ee, “Field,” 153; Logsdon, White, 79–80; Fred Nicklason, “The Civil War Contracts Committee,” Civil War History 17 (September 1971): 232.

(31.) Springfield Weekly Republican, October 26, 1861; Springfield Republican, March 7, 1863, April 8, 1865.

(32.) Potter, Impending Crisis, 423; Heather Cox Richardson, The Greatest Nation on Earth: Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997), 5, 7; Leonard P. Curry, Blueprint for Modern America: Nonmilitary Legislation of the First Civil War Congress (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968).

(33.) New York Evening Post, March 20, 1862; Trumbull, in CG, 37th Cong., 2nd sess., 2833, 2654, 2835.

(34.) Curry, Blueprint, 196–97; Logsdon, White, 31; Chicago Tribune, January 20, 1862; New York Evening Post, February 3, 1862, January 31, 1862; William Cullen Bryant to Charles Sumner, February 13, 1862, in Bryant, Letters, 4:255–56.

(p.252) (35.) Springfield Republican, February 15, 1862; Chicago Tribune, February 14, 1862; New York Evening Post, February 14, 1862; Curry, Blueprint, 192; Brown, Bryant, 438.

(36.) Edward Atkinson to Anonymous, July 3, 1864, Edward Atkinson to Mary Atkinson, July 3, 1864, Edward Atkinson Papers, MHS; Charles Francis Adams Jr. to Charles Francis Adams, November, 18, 1864, January 30, 1865, Adams Family Papers, MHS.

(37.) Jeffrey B. Rutenbeck, “The Rise of Independent Newspapers in the 1870s: A Transformation in American Journalism,” Ph.D. diss. (University of Washington, 1990), 4; Curl, Halstead, 39; Mark W. Summers, The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865– 1878 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 66; Springfield Republican, February 3, 1855; William Cullen Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, June 30, 1864, in Bryant, Letters, 4:369.

(38.) Logsdon, White, 84; Curl, Halstead, 34; Maizlish, Sectionalism, 233; Summers, Press Gang, 64–5; Harris L. Dante, “The Chicago Tribune's ‘Lost’ Years, 1865–1874,” Journal of the Illinois Historical Society 58 (Summer 1965): 139–40; Armstrong, Godkin, 79; Godkin, Life and Letters, 1: 238.

(39.) Summer, Press Gang, 67.

(40.) CG, 41st Cong., 3rd sess., 126, 128; Appendix to CG, 41st Cong., 3rd sess., 77; Appendix to CG, 42nd Cong., 1st sess., 62; Appendix to CG, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 540.

(41.) Cincinnati Commercial, December 25, 1865, January 6, 1866, February 16, 1866.

(42.) The Nation, May 1, 1866; Chicago Tribune, quoted in Springfield Weekly Republican, November 18, 1870; Cincinnati Commercial, May 12, 1871; Schurz quoted in Cincinnati Commercial, May 1, 1872.

(43.) The Nation, August 18, 1869; Cincinnati Commercial, December 28, 1865; Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, 2:305; Springfield Republican, April 23, 1872.

(44.) “Independence and Reform!!: Address of the Liberal Republican State Executive Committee and Other Prominent Liberals,” January 1872, William M. Grosvenor Papers, CU; J. D. Cox to Carl Schurz, April 5, 1872, Schurz Papers, LC; Schurz, Speeches, Correspondence, 2:305; Springfield Republican, April 23 and 19, 1872; Trumbull, in appendix to CG, 42nd Cong., 2nd sess., 83.

(45.) Schurz quoted in Cincinnati Commercial, May 16, 1871, November 28, 1870, April 16, 1872; The Nation, May 29, 1866, September 9, 1869.

(46.) Springfield Republican, March 28 and 13, 1872; Cincinnati Commercial, March 29, 1872; J. D. Cox to Carl Schurz, April 5, 1872, Schurz Papers, LC.

(47.) David A. Wells to Francis Blair, December 22, 1871, Blair Papers, LC.