There was another reason why it stood aloof. Before the nomination it was, naturally enough, looking out for some one who might be urged as a suitable competitor for Mr. Lincoln’s place. Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, was then quite popular with a good many people of radical views. The writer prepared an article discussing his availability as presidential timber and suggested him as a good man for the nomination. The article appeared as a leader in the Democrat, and was followed by others in the same vein. The suggestion attracted attention and led to a good deal of newspaper discussion. Herein we have, according to the writer’s opinion, the leading cause of Johnson’s nomination for the Vice-Presidency. At all events, he was on the ticket with Lincoln, and the Democrat could not very well go back on its own man.
The new departure, as the proposition for another Republican candidate in case Mr. Lincoln resolved to stick might be called, that appeared so formidable at one time, faded away without the public knowing anything of its existence. The reason was that it had no candidate. It had relied on Chase, knowing the unfriendliness there was between him and the President, but Chase said “No,” and that was the end of it.
The nomination of Mr. Chase for the Chief Justiceship has always been regarded as an act of great magnanimity on Mr. Lincoln’s part, as well as a clear perception of merit. It was doubtless all that, but the actions of the two men at this time certainly make out a case of striking coincidence. Such things rarely come by accident.
From what has been stated, it will be seen that the Missouri Radicals were by no means alone in their opposition to the President’s nomination, for which they are so sharply taken to task by some of his biographers and eulogists. They had plenty of company, the only difference being that they stood out in the open while the others acted covertly.
The Missouri Germans, who mostly approved the candidature of Fremont, and some of whom refused to vote for Lincoln, have been particularly assailed. Messrs. Nicolay and Hay, in their Lincoln biography, even go so far as to attack them on the ground of their religious, or rather anti-religious, beliefs, calling them “materialist Missourians,” “Missouri agnostics,” etc., etc.
Now, after having lived among the Missouri Germans at the time of our civil troubles, the writer is impelled to say a few words in their behalf. He does not hesitate to say that, in his opinion, there was no body of men of equal numerical strength in this country to whom, at that crisis, the Government and country had cause to feel under greater obligation, and justice would require its acknowledgment at this time. But for them the enemies of the Union would have captured the city of St. Louis with its great Government arsenal, and with the arms and ammunition thus secured would have overrun both the States of Missouri and Kansas. A large preponderance of the American-born citizens of St. Louis were Rebels. The Union people of that city who saved the day, were principally the “Dutch,” as they were called.