The Great North-Western Conspiracy In All Its Startling Details
By I. Windslow Ayer

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Chap. XIX.


In a publication of this character, it will not be expected we should review either the causes which led to the great rebellion, with its hydra heads and its sad consequences; but in closing, and especially in view of the terrible tragedy which has plunged a nation in deepest grief, we cannot refrain from saying, that the last most diabolical deed was not the act of individual madness, of personal hate and passion, it was the culmination of the hatred by the slave power of the principle of liberty, and the champion of freedom. It was not because the assassin felt in his heart a hatred of Abraham Lincoln, but because he, and the people at whose instigation he acted, hated the apostle of liberty, and the instrument in the hand of God for the accomplishment of a great and mighty work. Although it was the purpose of this band of murderers to assassinate the President and the whole Cabinet, it was not from personal malice against them as men, but the enemy sought by the destruction of the exponents of a free government, to give new life to the expiring representation of the slave power. So antagonistic was freedom to slavery that it was impossible to permanently embody the representatives of these principles with a republican government, which should be perfect in its formation, wise and just in its action, the hope of the liberty loving people throughout the world, and the pride and glory of American citizens. Every year since the adoption of the old Constitution, have discordant elements cropped out, and incidents transpired, which demonstrated to every rational mind, that as time rolled on, the accumulation of combustible elements would ultimately explode, and shake the civilized world to its center.

The facts that Northern teachers, Northern clergymen, Northern mercantile agents, Northern men upon business or pleasure, travelling at the South, and unwilling to stultify themselves, or become passive approvers and admirers of the “peculiar institution,” were treated with all possible indignities, and might count themselves fortunate if they escaped with their lives. So complete was the universal devotion to slavery in all sections of the South, and so baneful its effects upon the people, that all other considerations were made subservient to this. For slavery, friends were alienated, hatred established, so bitter in its extent that only death could appease it. It demoralized the entire people; it found its way with all its horrid moral deformities, into the very capitol; it caused the murderous assault of Brooks upon Charles Sumner in the Senate, and the many altercations and bitter harangues which have from time to time disgraced our National Congress; it was its cropping out that caused the fearless and noble President Andy Johnson, to threaten to hang Jeff. Davis–and which he may yet be called upon to perform;–it was slavery that devised the doctrine of secession; that has led to the deadly conflict upon hundreds of battle fields, and has spilled the best blood of our nation, and caused mourning and gloom all over the face of our once happy land. What wonder then, that the noble Lincoln, who, in the sincerity of his heart, and in the dictates of superior wisdom, who, seeing and appreciating the encroachments and horrors of slavery, not only to the people in bondage, but to the citizens of our country in every section–who wonders that Lincoln, whose name is immortal, especially for his extirpation of this curse, should be singled out by the demon of slavery, and assigned by Davis, his prophet, for a violent death. Thank God, the cancer is extirpated so thoroughly, that its fibres of death can never again form to threaten destruction to our land. True, the operation has been most painful, and no anesthetic agent has been employed; the suffering has been fearful, and the country has, to its extremities, trembled with anguish; but it is over now.

The assassination of the President was the will of Jeff. Davis, whispered in the temples of the Sons of Liberty or American Knights, into the ears of those of the members of the Orders, who had made the most proficiency in their teachings, and these beings, true to their oaths, went forth upon their mission of blood.

The following “gems,” from the debates in the Democratic National Convention, will be read with interest now and in future time:

S.S. Cox, said:

“He had attempted in his own city, a few weeks since, to show, in a very quiet way, that ABRAHAM LINCOLN HAD DELUGED THE COUNTRY WITH BLOOD, created a debt of four thousand million of dollars, sacrificed two millions of human lives, and filled the land with grief and mourning.”

A pious man, who had listened attentively to his remarks, sang out “G–-d d–-n him.”

“For less offenses than Mr. Lincoln had been guilty of, the English people had chopped off the head of the first Charles. IN HIS OPINION, LINCOLN AND DAVIS OUGHT TO BE BROUGHT TO THE SAME BLOCK TOGETHER.”

C. Chauncey Burr, editor of several Copperhead New York journals, said:

“And it was a wonder that they had a Cabinet and men who carried out the infamous orders of the gorilla tyrant that usurped the Presidential chair.”

Capt. Koontz, of Pittsburg, an ardent McClellan leader, said:

“If Democrats catch Lincoln’s bloody spies among them, they must cut their d–-d throats, that’s all. [Applause.] It is the duty of every American to vote for a peace candidate.”

Baker, of Michigan, said:

“Let us hurl that usurper from power. Never till that day comes when the usurper and his victim meet at the judgment seat, can he be punished for his wrongs, for his conspiracy against American liberty.”

Benjamin Allen, of New York, said:

“The people will soon rise, AND IF THEY CANNOT PUT LINCOLN OUT OF POWER BY THE BALLOT THEY WILL BY THE BULLET.” [Loud cheers.] Mr. Stambaugh, a delegate from Ohio, said:

“That, if he was called upon to elect between the freedom of the nigger and disunion and separation, he should choose the latter.” (Cheers.)

“They might search hell over and they could not find a worse President than Abraham Lincoln.”

Hon. Mr. Trainor, of Ohio, said:

“He would urge the people to be freemen, and HURL ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND HIS MINIONS FROM POWER.”

Henry Clay Dean, said:

“In the presence of the face of Camp Douglas and all the satraps of Lincoln, that the American people were ruled by felons. Lincoln had never turned a dishonest man out of office, or kept an honest man in. [A voice–’What have you to say of Jeff. Davis?] I have nothing to say about him. LINCOLN IS ENGAGED IN A CONTROVERSY WITH HIM, AND I NEVER INTERFERE BETWEEN BLACK DOGS.”

“He blushed that such a felon should occupy the highest place in the gift of the people. PERJURY AND LARCENY WERE WRITTEN OVER HIM AS OFTEN AS WAS ’ONE DOLLAR’ ON THE ONE DOLLAR BILLS OF THE BANK OF THE STATE OF INDIANA. (Cries of the ’old villain.’) The Democracy were for peace.”

W.W. O’Brien, of Peoria, also threatened “to try him as Charles the first was tried, as a tyrant and a traitor, and if they found him guilty to hang him.”

The essential unity of Copperheadism with assassination, appears in the following remarks of Koontz, of Pennsylvania:

“Shall more wives be made widows, and more children fatherless, and greater hate be stirred up between children of the same glorious constitution? IF NOT WE MUST PUT OUR FOOT UPON THE TYRANT’S NECK, and destroy it, The Democratic government must be raised to power, and Lincoln with his Cabinet of rogues, thieves and spies, be driven to destruction. What shall we do with him? [A voice–"Send him here, and I’ll make a coffin for him, d–-n him."]”

As we review the events which have transpired during this war, we are strikingly impressed with the magnanimity, the forbearance, the humanity of the loyal States in their relations to the rebels in arms, and we are also impressed with the great lack of the exhibition of these qualities–the most ennobling in national character–on the part of the so-called Southern Confederacy. From the hour of firing upon Fort Sumter to the present moment, the war has not been waged by the rebels as if in defense of the great principles of truth and justice, but with the malignity, the cruelty and barbarity which would, in many instances, put to blush the savages upon our western borders. In our dealing with them, the honor, integrity, fidelity and dignity of the nation have never been forgotten; and the policy of the noble President, laid low by the hand of the assassin, was never to give blows when words would answer,–never to exact by force what might be attained by reasoning,–and never, under any circumstances, to forget those qualities which make a nation truly great, the first and chief of which is charity. How has our enemy failed to appreciate this? The manner in which the warfare has been waged by the South will be mentioned by historians as cruel, dishonorable and disgraceful to people of a Christian nation. Failing of success upon the field, we find the Davis Government countenancing guerrilla warfare, burning bridges, murdering unarmed citizens, and desolating the homes of unoffending people, and committing piracy upon the high seas. Still failing of success and losing ground daily, but driven to desperation by the apparent hopelessness of their cause, they sink to the depth of infamy by establishing among us secret orders, the aim of which is to educate men of base passions to deeds of dark dishonor and unmeasured infamy; men who receiving such instruction will concoct schemes for the burning of cities, for the liberation of their prisoners; and, lastly, they have sunk so low in the mire of dishonor, impelled by savage ferocity and hate, that it would appear folly, if not downright criminality to longer deal with them on the principles of liberality and gentleness, which has marked our conduct hitherto. It was our generosity, our mildness, our spirit of conciliation that moved the hand of the demon who slew the country’s truest friend. Let it be so no longer! Let rebels feel that we are terribly in earnest. Let heavy blows be struck, and struck without delay, and let there be no exhibition of concession or conciliation, till the enemy sue for peace upon the terms the country proclaims. As well make Copperheads Christians or honest men, as to attempt by gentleness longer to subdue rebels, whose weapons are firebrands and assassins’ daggers. It is futile; try it no longer. Said the great French advocate of justice, when he was charged with being sanguinary, because he so frequently punished murder with death, “You tell me that it is bloody work, and sinful in the sight of Heaven to execute men; so it is, and I am disposed to desist, and I will, the moment men stop the crime of murder.” So will we show clemency, when our enemy has laid down his arms, and not before.

Another measure by our people would be attended with salutary results–the extermination of Copperheadism at home. Who helped to form secret societies of Sons of Liberty and kindred organizations, so industriously and so efficiently as editors of Copperhead publications. It is in these orders that assassins are trained, and prepared for their fiendish mission. Henceforth let the people–the loyal people of the most glorious country on which the sun shines–swear by the memory of our much loved and deeply lamented President, that henceforth no paper shall print, no man shall utter sentiments of treason, under the penalty of incurring that summary punishment, the righteous indignation of a sorrowing, long suffering people may inflict. If the people resolve to endure the curse of home treason no longer, and let Copperheads know that they can no longer co-operate with Jeff. Davis in any part of our land, we shall never again be called upon to aid in suppressing or exposing a North-Western Conspiracy, or any plot against our country, in any section of our land.


Introduction.  •  Chap. I.  •  Chap. II.  •  Chap. III.  •  Chap. IV.  •  Chap. V.  •  Chap. VI.  •  Chap. VII.  •  Chap. VIII.  •  Chap. IX  •  Chap. X  •  Chap. XI.  •  Chap. XII.  •  Chap. XIII.  •  Chap. XIV.  •  Chap. XV.  •  Chap. XVI  •  Chap. XVII.  •  Chap. XVIII.  •  Chap. XIX.  •  Chap. XX.  •  Chap. XXI.

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