The contention between the Missouri Radical and Conservative delegations was thrashed out before the committee on delegates, at an evening session. Judge Samuel M. Breckenridge, of St. Louis, sustained the cause of the Conservatives in a very ingenious argument, while the writer spoke for the Radicals. The result was very satisfactory to the latter, being, with the exception of one vote for compromise, a unanimous decision in their favor. That decision was sustained by the convention in its next day’s session by a vote of four hundred and forty to four.
Anticipating that the subject would be discussed on the floor of the convention,—which was not the case, however,—I asked a very eloquent St. Louis lawyer to take my place as chairman of the Radical delegation and conduct the debate on the Radical side. He declined. I then went to three or four Congressmen who were members of the Radical delegation and made the same appeal to each one of them. All declined. I suspected at the time that apprehension that a vote for anybody else would be hissed by Lincoln’s friends, had something to do with their reticence. I had no such apprehension. I did not believe there was anybody in that convention who would dare to hiss the name of Grant. If Grant had been a candidate before the convention he would have been nominated.
When, as chairman of my delegation, I pronounced his name as Missouri’s choice I remained on my feet for fully a minute while a dead silence prevailed. Meanwhile all eyes were turned upon me. Then came a clap from a single pair of hands, being the expression of a Missouri delegate. Others followed, both inside and outside of the delegation, increasing until there was quite a demonstration. When the clamor had subsided I made the next move according to the programme agreed upon, and the incident was closed.
And here it can do no harm to state that General Grant knew that he was to receive the vote of the Missouri Radicals if they were admitted to the convention—the newspapers having generally published the fact—and did not decline the intended compliment. Grant lived in Missouri for a considerable period, married there, and was on most friendly terms with the Radical leaders, many of whom he generously remembered when he got to be President. For their action in voting for Grant, the Missouri Radical delegates were sharply criticised at the time, on the alleged ground that they secured admission to the convention from Lincoln’s supporters by concealing the fact—or at least not revealing it—that they intended to vote for somebody else. The fact, however, is that there was not a person in the convention who did not from the first understand where they stood, and exactly what they intended to do. Their Conservative contestants had distributed a leaflet, intended as an appeal to the Lincoln men, setting forth the instructions to both delegations. Instead of the openly avowed opposition of the Radicals to Mr. Lincoln’s nomination