THE BALTIMORE NOMINATIONS
Though the compact voting body of the South had retired from the Charleston Convention, her animating spirit yet remained in the numbers and determination of the anti-Douglas delegates. When on Tuesday morning, May 1, the eighth day, the convention once more met, the Douglas men, with a view to making the most of the dilemma, resolved to force the nomination of their favorite. But there was a lion in the path. Usage and tradition had consecrated the two-thirds rule. Charles E. Stuart, of Michigan, tried vainly to obtain the liberal interpretation, that this meant “two-thirds of the votes given,” but Chairman Cushing ruled remorselessly against him, and at the instance of John B. Howard, of Tennessee, the convention voted (141 to 112) that no person should be declared nominated who did not receive two-thirds of all the votes the full convention was entitled to cast.
This sealed the fate of Douglas. The Electoral College numbered 303; 202 votes therefore were necessary to a choice. Voting for candidates was begun, and continued throughout all the next day (Wednesday, May 2). Fifty-seven ballots were taken in all; Douglas received 145-1/2 on the first, and on several subsequent ballots his strength rose to 152-1/2. The other votes were scattered among eight different candidates with no near approach to agreement.
The dead-lock having become unmistakable and irremediable, and the nomination of Douglas under existing conditions impossible, all parties finally consented to an adjournment, especially as it was evident that unless this were done the sessions would come to an end by mere disintegration. Therefore, on the tenth day (May 3), the Charleston Convention formally adjourned, having previously resolved to reassemble on the 18th of June, in the city of Baltimore, with a recommendation that the several States make provision to fill the vacancies in their delegations.
Mr. Yancey and his seceders had meanwhile organized another convention in St. Andrew’s Hall. Their business was of course to report substantially the platform rejected by the Douglas men, and for the rejection of which they had retired. Mr. Yancey then explained to them that the adoption of this platform was all the action they proposed to take until the “rump democracy” should make their nomination, when, he said, “it may be our privilege to indorse the nominee, or our duty to proceed to make a nomination.” Other seceders were more impatient, and desired that something be done forthwith; but as the sessions were continued to the second and third day, their overflowing zeal found a safety-valve in their speeches. Mr. Yancey’s programme prevailed, and they also adjourned to meet again in Richmond on the 11th of June.