But were the Missouri Radicals so far disheartened by their rebuffs from the President that they gave up the fight? Not a bit of it. There was a tribunal in some respects higher than the President, and to that they resolved to go. The National Republican Convention to nominate a successor to Mr. Lincoln was approaching, and they decided to appeal to it in a way that would compel a decision between them and the President. They appointed a delegation to the convention, which they instructed for General Grant. The Claybanks also appointed a delegation, which they instructed for Mr. Lincoln, and thus the issue was made. The convention, although nominating Mr. Lincoln by a vote that, outside of Missouri’s, was unanimous, admitted the Charcoals and excluded the Claybanks by the remarkable vote of four hundred and forty to four.
While of no special consequence, some rather humorous experiences in connection with the events just spoken of may not be lacking in interest or altogether out of place in a work like this.
Before leaving Missouri for the National Republican Convention, which was held in Baltimore, June 8, 1864, the Radical delegates, including the writer, decided to go by way of Washington and call upon the President, thinking that, as there was a contest ahead with his professed Missouri supporters, a better understanding with him might be of advantage. As they were pledged to vote for another man, such a proceeding on their part was certainly somewhat audacious; nevertheless, Mr. Lincoln received us graciously and listened patiently to what we had to say.
“Mr. President,” said one of the delegates, “if you were to go out to Missouri you would find your best friends as well as practically all the good Republicans of the State on our side of the dividing line.”
“Well,” remarked the President very deliberately, “in speaking of dividing lines, the situation in Missouri recalls the story of the old man who had an unruly sow and pigs. One day, when they escaped from their enclosure and disappeared, he called his boys and started out to hunt the runaways. Up one side of the creek they went; but while they discovered plenty of tracks and rootings, they found no hogs. ’Now let us go over to the other side of the creek,’ said the old gentleman; but the result was the same—many signs but no pigs. ’Confound those swine!’ exclaimed the old man, ’they root and root on both sides, but it’s mighty hard to find them on either.’”
We, of course, were left to make the application to ourselves, and that was all the satisfaction we got.
Being greatly elated over our victory in the convention, and thinking it settled some, if not all, disputed points, we decided to return by way of Washington and again call on the President. We wanted to come to some sort of understanding with him. As we had just voted against his nomination such a step may have been more audacious than our previous action. But, for all that, a pretty late hour on the night of the convention found us at the door of the President’s room, seeking an interview that had been promised us in answer to a telegram.