The Great North-Western Conspiracy In All Its Startling Details
By I. Windslow Ayer
Public Domain Books
PLOT TO ASSASSINATE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES–THE CONSUMMATION OF THE INFERNAL PLOT–DEATH OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND DEADLY ASSAULT UPON SECRETARY SEWARD–RESOLUTIONS OF THE CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE.
During the autumn of 1864, at a meeting of the Sons of Liberty, in Chicago, a proposition was introduced which contemplated the raising of a fund of fifty thousand dollars, which was to be expended in payment of the services of some person who would undertake to assassinate the President of the United States. This was an informal proceeding, the meeting having just adjourned, but it was discussed by several of the leading members, who declared that the “extermination of tyrants was obedience to God.”
What say you, citizens of Chicago, concerning the band of traitors in your midst, who meditate and discuss such crimes as make the soul sicken, and the face blanch with horror; would not any honest man deliver this department of Jeff Davis’ most efficient allies into the hands of the United States Government, by any means Heaven might place in his power? If there is a man so fastidious of propriety, so mindful of selfish considerations, that he would not, then, in our opinion, that man is a coward, a traitor, an imbecile too weak to punish, and deserving the scorn and contumely of his countrymen, for all coming time. This proposition was the next day reported in a dispatch to Col. Sweet, and is now on file in his office. It may be that the persons who discussed the proposition, would not themselves have undertaken the accomplishment of the deed, but the animus of the party was thus rendered apparent, and the proposition was gravely considered and discussed. This occurred soon after an interview, by the writer, with Maj. Gen. Hooker, at the Tremont House, in Chicago, in October. It had been often said that in case Lincoln was elected, he should never be inaugurated, implying that his life would be terminated before that event. Some of the very parties who made these threats, have since been prisoners in Camp Douglas, but are now at large. On the night of the 14th of April, 1865, assassins, who were, doubtless, members of the Sons of Liberty, in accordance with the same spirit in which that Order came into existence, and was conducted from first to last, consummated their hellish designs by shooting President Lincoln, and stabbing Secretary Seward. The nation now mourns the loss of the noble martyr of freedom, the truest heart, the most devoted patriot, the sincere advocate of republican institutions, and the friend of the people. In every city, town, and village, and hamlet of the land, is sincere mourning; deepest grief swells the hearts and dim the eyes of all who have hearts to feel, and fountains of tears, for the greatest bereavement that has ever befallen our nation. The emblems of mourning, the solemn tolling of bells, the universal gloom which overshadows our land, all impress upon our hearts the terrible affliction that has come upon us, and while we would bow reverently before Him who doeth all things well, and whose wise purpose in this chastening of our already sorrowing people may not now be apparent, we cannot repress the just indignation of our souls that moves us to the enactment of that stern justice which is uncompromising, and which cries to Heaven for vengeance, which nerves our hearts and hands to deeds, the generous, noble, President of the nation, now silent in the tomb, would have softened or averted. Villains have slain the man whose heart was large enough to take into his affections and paternal love, the whole country,–the man who knew no North, no South, no East, no West, but whose devotion to the best good of the people, was the ruling motive of a life so full of honors and usefulness. The North had no friend like Lincoln! The South had no friend like Lincoln! And, as our noble armies now march onward to victory, and crush out beneath their iron heel, the last vestige of treason, the memory of Lincoln will prove a watch-word of magic power; soldiers will remember the entreaties, the offers of pardon, the paternal affection of the noble Lincoln, and the base ingratitude of the demon who consigned him to the tomb; they who have commended his magnanimity, his humanity, his hopefulness, his reluctance to deal out stern justice, which required hard blows–such of our fellow-citizens will now, with holy indignation, rise in their might, and sweep from the land those whose treason is heard, and whose bloody hand is uplifted, aye, and those who devise their hellish schemes in secret chambers and hiding places in our own cities and towns. “Remember Lincoln,” will be the battle-cry of our boys as they encounter armed treason in the field, and “Remember Lincoln,” should be the watchword of friends of freedom at home, when hesitating in clemency, to strike down Copperheads who seek to embarrass the government, and hope for, prophecy and delight in its reverses upon the field of contest. Remember Lincoln and Seward ye men who would now compromise by any and all sacrifices, with a people who have sought to destroy our country, and have stricken down the pride of our nation, the noblest of our land, and the champion of liberty. The Chicago Board of Trade assembled upon the morning of the 15th of April, and adopted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That this Board has heard with mingled sentiments of grief and horror of the foul assassination, by accursed traitors, of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
Resolved, That we mourn in the deepest sorrow his loss as a national calamity. His persevering and devoted patriotism through the dark days of the Republic; his wisdom alike in the hour of trial and triumph, have embalmed his memory in the hearts of his countrymen, and encircled his fame with a glory which time can never tarnish.
Resolved, That in this infernal act we see but another instance of the demoniac hate of the slave power, arrested by the strong arm of the government, under the heaven inspired leadership of Abraham Lincoln, in its career of treason, murder and despotism; and we are admonished anew to insist upon no compromise with the infamy, and upon the condign punishment by the mailed hand of power, and the strong arm of the law, of treason and its abettors, wherever found.
Resolved, That in our capacity of business men and citizens, we vow eternal hate to the treachery and treason of the rebellion, which, in addition to its before unnumbered crimes, has added the cowardly assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the vain hope of destroying this Republic.
Resolved, That in deep humiliation, we bow before the God of battles and of Nations, and, in this hour of our grand triumph and overwhelming sorrow, we reverently consign to His all-guiding wisdom the destiny of this Republic, and pray Him still to have it in His holy keeping.
Resolved, That the members of this Board, who have, from the war’s beginning, felt it their duty, as it has been their privilege and their pride, to stand by the nation and its President and all its constituted leaders, loyally aiding and encouraging, as they could, the Cabinet and the Army in the gigantic struggle of the past four years, do now solemnly, unitedly, in the presence of Almighty God, and in humble reliance on the Divine help, pledge our full, unreserved, and trusting support to the Government of these United States, and to the men who now constitutionally succeed to the authority and powers, now laid down by the great and good man, who has fallen a precious and holy sacrifice on the altar of his country. And the members of this Board, in making this solemn pledge, do the same, not for themselves only, but in behalf of the loyal and patriotic people of the North-west, who have freely offered their first-born, and best beloved for their country’s existence, security and honor.
Resolved, That the members of this Board express their profound and respectful sympathy with the bereaved family of the deceased, and with the associates of the departed in the Cabinet, as well as all the members of the national councils, in the tragic and deplorable events in which they share so largely.