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The Chicago Republican, March 1, 1868


He Attends the Illinois Association Reception.
An Agreeable Gathering -- The Skeleton of the Feast.
Mark's View of the Impeachment Proceedings.
A Lion Aroused -- Gideon on the War Path -- Make way for Welles and the Marines.
"Flame, Fire and Flame" -- Fury by Telegraph.


A State Reception.


I refer to the reception given by the "Illinois State Association," yesterday evening. Or, rather, it was more a "reunion," with considerable "at home" in it than the funereal high comedy they call a "reception in Washington." Col. Chester and his fair daughters -- former citizens of Chicago -- conducted the honors, and performed the onerous task with a skill and address that placed even diffident strangers at their ease; insomuch that I shortly became a contented Illinoisan without knowing just how or where the change took place. The invitation I had received was couched in such mysterious terms that I gathered from it a vague notion that I was going there to report a sort of State Agricultural Society; and it was a very agreeable surprise to find a large party of gentlemen present who were not talking about steam plows and corn-shellers, and a brilliant company of ladies who were taking no thought of prize turnips and miraculous cabbages. I like agriculture well enough, but not agricultural mass meetings. There is nothing about them that fires the blood.

At some of the receptions here, the people move in solemn procession up and down the drawing-rooms, bearing an imaginary Ark of the Covenant, and looking as if they knew they had to wander forty years in the wilderness, yet; but there was nothing of this kind last night -- no processions, no solemnity, no frozen ceremony. The throng shifted constantly and talked incessantly. Nothing could be less stately or more agreeable. It was a very sociable company for a stranger to fall among. Finally, I found a petite young lady (I don't know what petite means, but it is a good word) right from my own side of the river, and then I felt more at home than ever, if possible. She was from Dubuque, which is on the California side of the Mississippi river, and so, of course, we were, in a manner, neighbors. A constructive old-acquaintance ship like this, is wonderfully fortifying and reassuring, when one is in the midst of a foreign element, even though that element is disposed to be a generous and a friendly one.


I only met one icicle in the whole party. He shook hands without cordiality, and bowed with altogether too much condescension. I said, with a vivacity that considerably oversized the importance of the remark:

"It has been a very fine day, sir."

Then this monument, this undertaker, this galvanized graveyard said:

"Sir, what the weather may be, or what the weather may not be, concerns not me, when my country is in danger."

"Well -- I am sorry I made such a thoughtless remark. I meant no harm -- I did not notice what I was saying. People cannot be too careful what they say, when the country is in danger. But the weather you know --"

"Sir, what signify the vagaries of the weather, when revolution stares us in the face! when the muttered thunders of coming disaster startle the ear! when dark forebodings visit our thoughts by day, and wrathful carnage crimsons our visions of the night!"

"True -- I had not looked at it in that light. I slipped up on the carnage, so to speak. Under circumstances like these, I know, as well as any man knows, that it is little less than treason to speak of the weather --"

"Treason! Ha-ha! Treason is feeding at the very vitals of the land! It stalks unrebuked through the corridors of the nation's capitol! It sits in the high places of the Commonwealth; its flings its gaunt shadow athwart the very threshold of the fane of liberty ! Sir, prophetic voices sound in my ears, and lo, they chant the requiem of the great Republic! It's doom is sealed!"

"Well, I know you will pardon me, sir. I didn't know it was as bad as that, or I swear I never would have mentioned the weather."


I think this old sepulchre was a member of Congress, but I did not catch his name distinctly. But why do such people go to social gatherings, and practice their execrable speeches on unoffending strangers? Why do they go around saving the country all the time, and snubbing the weather ? Why do not they do like Garret Davis, and persecute Congress, which is paid to be persecuted? These harmless lunatics only distress the guests at an evening party, without absolutely scaring them. I would be ashamed to act so poor a part as that. If I had to be a lunatic, I do think I would have self-respect enough to be a dangerous one. I hate that solemn-visaged body-snatcher now, and if he is a Congressman I shall always try to find out all the mean things I can that other people do, and put them in print and attribute them to him. I think that will make him wince. The idea of a Congressman bowing condescendingly to one of the people! We cannot put up with that. I long to report one of that man's speeches, and garble it so that his constituents will think he has forsaken his political principles and gone over to the enemy.

I have digressed somewhat, and now return to the subject only to say that this Illinoisan reunion was lively, void of restraint, and eminently pleasant. This is the most agreeable way in which Senators and Representatives can meet their fitting constituents, and the idea is well worthy of adoption by the representatives of other States here. Americans are not by nature, inclination, or home teaching, courtly enough to enjoy the formal humbuggery of an orthodox "reception."

I have made the above notes the present time, because it was most convenient to do it now -- the remainder of this letter will be written a week hence. I had a list of all the Illinoisans present at the party, but I cannot furnish it now. The degraded, black-hearted chambermaid has kindled the fire with it, of course. If there is on earth a race of miscreants I hate with an undying hatred, it is chambermaids. If there is any dissipation I enjoy with all my heart, it is to attend their funerals.



Monday, Feb. 24. The past few days have been filled with startling interest. On Friday the nation was electrified by the President's last and boldest effort to dislodge Mr. Stanton. The wild excitement that pervaded the capital that night, has not had its parallel here since the murder of Mr Lincoln. The air was thick with rumors of dreadful import. Every tranquil brain, thrown from its balance by the colossal surprise, magnified the creations of its crazed fancy into the phantoms of anarchy, rebellion, bloody revolution! Assassinations were prophesied; murders, robberies, and conflagrations; cannon were to thunder, drums to beat, and the pavements to echo to the tread of armed men! The Senate sat at night, and the unusual spectacle of the illuminated Capitol attracted every eye, and impressed every mind with something like an assurance that its bodings and prophecies were well founded. And out of the midst of the political gloom, impeachment, that dead corpse, rose up and walked forth again!


The next morning that one word, Impeachment, was upon every tongue. There was no simpleton but knew that this memorable twenty-second of February was likely to be one of those tremendous days that stand up out of the level of a nation's history like a mountain in a desert -- a mark toward which all roads converge on the one side, and from which they all radiate on the other -- a mark which catches the eye first, from all directions and all distances, and holds it longest. Instead of resting from its labors, in reverent regard for the memory of Washington, as has been the honored custom for three-score years upon this natal day, the Congress had resolved to sit -- and for business! Before 9 o'clock in the morning a multitude was assembled in the Capitol grounds, and from all points of the compass the clans were still gathering. Fifteen minutes after the doors were opened, the broad lobbies were crowded with men and women, and every seat in the ample galleries was occupied.


A strong interest was depicted in every countenance -- even in the countenances of the members of the floor -- inasmuch that these latter earnestly conversed in groups and couples, instead of looking listless and writing private letters, as is their custom. The multitude of strangers were waiting for impeachment. They did not know what impeachment was, exactly, but they had a general idea that it would come in the form of an avalanche, or a thunder clap, or that maybe the roof would fall in. Bye and bye a member rose up solemnly, and every soul prepared to stand from under. But it was a vain delusion -- he only had a speech to make about a degraded cooking stove patent. The people were justly incensed. An hour of irksome suspense rolled away, and then the one man the audience found out they must look for, entered -- Thaddeus Stevens. All the faces were full of interest again in a moment. The emaciated old man stood up and addressed the Speaker. The Speaker commanded the audience to beware of manifesting either satisfaction or dissent, on pain of instant expulsion, but to maintain strict and respectful silence -- and when he finished, the profoundest stillness reigned in the House. Then the one man upon whom all interest centered, read the resolutions the multitude so longed to hear; and when he came to where it was resolved that "The President of the United States be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors," the prodigious words had something so solemn and so awe-inspiring about them that the people seemed inclined to think that the expected thunder-clap was about to crash above the pictured ceiling! The strong lights and shadows, augmenting distances and creating deceitful prospectives, the ghostly figure of the reader, the eager interest that marked the sea of faces, the impressive silence that prevaded the place, and the historic grandeur of the occasion, conspired to render the scene one of the most striking and dramatic that has ever been witnessed in the Capitol.


Then the speech making began, and the resurrected Lazarus of impeachment soon gave token of a strength ard a vigor it had never possessed in its former life. The crowds remained in the Capitol till nearly midnight.

Tuesday, Feb. 25.

All day yesterday, the place was densely thronged; the people wished to hear the all-important vote taken. It was not to transpire till nearly night fall, and they knew it; but they came betimes in the morning, and brought their luncheon with them, resolved to sit it out -- and they did. They heard strong speeches from the Republicans, and angry protests from the Democrats -- but these latter were not confident in tone. The Democrats had said, themselves, that the President had made an ill-advised move and they felt that theY were fighting for a lost cause. The "aye" votes, in nearly all cases, came in a clear voice, but many of the "nays" were inaudible in the reporters' gallery. The spirit appeared to be chiefly on one side. The resolution passed, and that was a momentous event; but Saturday was still the great day, after all. It was the day most to be remembered; its pictures were the most striking to the eye, and its events the most sensational, because of their novelty.


That the President would be arraigned before the bar of the Senate, there seemed to be no possible question. Yesterday was reception night at the White House and several of us went there at 10 o'clock. I confess that I went out of a thoughtless curiosity to see how the Chief Magistrate bore himself under these untoward circumstances, but I did not enjoy the visit. I stood at a little distance and watched him receive and dismiss his visitors. He looked so like a plain, simple, goodnatured old farmer, that it was hard to conceive that this was the imperious "tyrant" whose deeds had been stirring the sluggish blood of thirty millions of people. He was uneasy and restless; the smile that came and went upon his face had distress in it; when he shook hands with a guest he looked wistfully into the person's face, as if he sought a friendly interest there, and yet hardly hoped to find it; he seemed humbled -- the expression of his countenance could be made to signify nothing else; when he ceased to smile for a moment, the shadow of a secret anxiety fell upon his features, and then, if ever a man looked weary and worn, and needful of rest and forgetfulness, it was this envied President of the United States. I never saw a man who seemed as friendless and forsaken, and I never felt for any man so much.

They said that earlier in the evening he bore himself as serenely as if his fortunes were at their fairest; every body admired the brave spirit that so mastered its corroding cares that they gave no sign -- so mastered them that in the countenance that should have told of a world of trouble within, only a sunny cheerfulness was visible. But he had stood in that one place for hours now, undergoing that toil-some monotony of hand shaking, and fatigue had conquered him at last. Not any man that lives could occupy the President's place today, and be tranquil and content.

A Sleeping Lion Aroused -- Gideon Rampant

Feb. 26. The ball is in motion. The Philadelphians send encouraging dispatches to the President. Chicago mass meetings tell Illinois Representatives to impeach. New York city threatens blood and slaughter in behalf of the President. Gov. Geary promises another uprising for Congress. And last, Mr. Gideon Welles is "standing by" with his redoubtable four hundred marines to rush to the Chief Magistrate's protection. It is time to tremble when Gideon's Band is hitching up its towsers, shifting its quids to starboard, and preparing to repel boarders! But Congress is in earnest, and may be the old salts will see service shortly. Gen. Logan says that if Congress quails this time, he wants an appropriation made to iron plate the members so that the nation can kick them from the Capitol to the White House without its wearing them out! Sound the tocsin! don't know what a tocsin is, but I want it sounded, all the same.


Gideon is not to be alone. Telegrams offering support and encouragement to the President are still arriving constantly. My position as Private Secretary ad interim to the Chief Magistrate gives me peculiar facilities for eaily learning their contents:

Maysville, Feb. 25 -- Will one regiment of Irish be of any service to you? Answer.

There is a thousand anyhow. The case looks healthier.

Philadelphia, Feb. 25 -- I can raise one thousand men to sustain you from my Second District of New Jersey, if necessary.

Not signed. From the Camden and Amboy Railroad Company, doubtless. They own the Second District of New Jersey, and the other Districts, also, I believe. However, it is a thousand more, in any event. This is cheering.

New York City, Feb. 25. Go on! All the decent men in the metropolis will back you.

Well. that makes another thousand. We are all right now.

Wheatland, Pa., Feb. 25. Proceed with caution -- but proceed. Garrison Fort Sumter. But do not provision it yet. Be cautious. Do not act with too much decision about things. Wait.

Pub. Func.

I thought the old lady was dead. But she only sleepeth. Some one must wake her up, and tell her Sumter is battered down.

Chicago, Feb. 23. Keep steadily on. Oglesby has made himself ridiculous. He knew when he sent that dispatch that it was impossible to fill the bill. When you want either men or money, more than half of the able-bodied men in the State will promptly respond to your call. Good !

Ning Yong, Cal., Feb. 24. Mellican man welly good. You sabby China man? No hab got, how can catch? Chinaman welly good man, John. Send you nine hundred China man, heap smach 'um Congress.

Hong Wo See Yup.

I know Chinamen too well. They are a nation of Pub Funcs. They are not partisan enough in character. They would come here with their tubs and take in washing from both sides.

St. Louis, Feb. 25.

The people here are with you, and ready almost to a man to sustain you in whatever way may be necessary in upholding the Constitution and resisting Congressional usurpation.

Good again!

Cincinnati, Feb. 24.

Dis foreign boppulations fon Cincinnati is mit you in dis clofious grisus. Speal your hant for all vot it is vort. Make vot you shall -- do vot you is -- holt up your het, and shust go right along de same as never vos. You shall haf limburg, und lager, und pretzels -- every dings vot you vants, at de lowest brice -- greenbecks. Grisuses is de brinciples vot I goes in for! Grisuses is de dings vot makes droubles for de dam ratticals!

Hans Von Kraut.

Wee gates, Hans. I don't know what "wee gates" is, but I suppose it is the neat thing to fire the German heart with, in times of "grisus."

Richmond, Feb. 25. We are with you, heart and soul! There are plenty of railroads leading from the South to Washington, and in your far-sighted sagacity you long ago put them all into my hands, and under my supreme control. Blessings on the singular policy which has given the North only one railway route to Washington! Count on us. Men, money, and transporation are at your service.


This is victory itself.

Alaska, Feb. 25. Thermometer at 78 degrees below zero, but Democratic patriotism at a hundred and sixty above. We are with you! Glorious mass meeting yesterday. Forwarded full proceedings. Bear ate the messenger. Ate the proceedings also. Since died, but proceedings and messenger so mixed up in stomach shall have to send all in a box.

C. Green Iceberg.

Bear steak, masticated messenger, and Democratic resolutions ought to make a fair enough feast in these hungry times. Proceedings generally contain "provisions," but this time the provisions contain the proceedings. The case is peculiar.

St. Thomas, Feb. 25. Hurrah ! hur --

[Excuse interruption. Great storm just swept away this portion of the town.]

Hurrah ! hur --

[Excuse interruption again. Earthquake.]

Hurrah ! hur --

[Perdition! Volcano let go under the house.]

rah !

In haste.

John Smi --.


John Smith, I suppose. Some new disaster must have interferred with him, and he could not finish his name. His part of the world has come to an end maybe. However, with the help of Providence, he got his hurrah out, any how. It is about all that the others have accomplished, so far, although they took more words to say it in.

Dublin, Ireland, Feb. 25.

God and Liberty! Star Spangled Banner! Erin go Bragh! Greenwhillikins!

America for white men Tempus fugit! Bow-wow-wow !

Down with the revolutionists! Death to demagogues! No slinking! Let every true patriot show his ear-marks and be known by his voice!

Waw-he ! waw-he ! waw-he !

George Francis Train.

Now we are safe, since the great Fenian Female Suffrage Ass is going to bray in our favor.

What with running to Congress to see the impeachment fight, and to the hotels to hear public opinion about it, and to an occasional reception to endeavor to forget it all and start fresh again, and meanwhile, trying to carry on two colds in the head at the same time (which it cannot be done), I have taken about a week to write this letter. I wish you would put in dates just wherever you please. Dates are cheap, and I wish to be liberal. There is nothing mean about me when it comes to dates.

But was not that old cemetery almost prophetic, in my first paragraph? Nobody suspected on the 20th what the President was going to do next day.


Related item on George Francis Train.

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