The Convention Oligarchy.
We were startled at the announcement that the Southern Conventions sat with closed doors; but upon reflection, are now prepared to commend their wisdom to the Convention in session in this State. The secessionists have at least kept the record of their folly, wickedness and degradation from the public eye. They may yet sink to oblivion themselves before their damning record shall come to light, and thus, in some measure, avoid the indignant frown of history. For the Springfield conspirators there is scarcely such a hope. Their record is published, and had their duties been committed to the inmates of the Insane Asylum at Jacksonville their record could hardly have presented more evidences of madness!
The people of the State have not found much fault with their old Constitution. It has answered well its purpose. Under it our State has prospered in an unexampled degree. Politicians, however, always anxious for new hobbies, commenced to agitate the question of its amendment. The people, totally engrossed in the unusual excitements of the late Presidential canvass, paid but little attention to the question, when at last it had been committed to them, and it was suffered to pass, almost by default, but before the Legislature could act upon that vote, the rebellion was precipitated and a condition of things ensued which did away with more than half the reasons for calling a Convention. Under the circumstances, the Republicans in the Legislature would have willingly deferred the call, deeming it of doubtful propriety to disturb the organic law when the public mind was convulsed by the throes of revolution. The Democrats in the Legislature, however, though boasting that they had voted against the call at the ballot box, became furious lest the Legislature should fail to give legal effect to an ill considered popular vote, which never would have been given under fire, then altered condition of public affairs.
Now, why was this? Because, when they voted at the polls they thought the Convention would be in the hands of the Republicans, but during the session they found that their Southern confreres had set the temple of liberty on fire, and determined, while the Republicans should be engaged in extinguishing the flames, that they would steal their household gods. They accordingly at once commenced to pass sympathizing and anti-coercion resolution, to make the Republican war, as they called it, unpopular. The canvass came; patriotic men desired, in view of the great national struggle, to avoid party strife. Where the Republicans had the majority of Democrats in the Convention. By professions of Unionism and conservatism, when that was needed, they got in. No sooner were their scats safe, than they raised the partisan cry — "State redeemed," "democracy triumphant," "Lincoln's war condemned by the people," &c., &c., — evincing, after all their professions of Unionism, that the partisan was above the patriot. Candidates told the people, during the canvass "that only a few amendments were necessary — that the Convention would not sit over three weeks — that they were for adjourning at once, and going home."
Mark the result, voters of Illinois — tax payers — friends of the Union! The session has already been extended into the fifth week, at a cost of thousands of dollars per week, and what have they done? They have organized, after a fashion, refusing, however, to take the oath prescribed by the very law which called the Convention into being, passed in pursuance of the Constitution now in force, and binding upon all equally. — They have placed the political friends of the dominant party in office from highest to lowest for partisan purposes, — thus declining to accept the olive branch tendered by the Republicans at the last (special) session of the Legislature, which ignored party for the good of the country. They have declared that they are a sovereign power, competent to destroy the State Government and substitute a provisional government in its stead. They have declared themselves the State, and some have indorsed the most ultra secession doctrine, claiming that the Convention is not subordinate to the Constitution of the United States; all this for partisan purposes. They have sought pretext after pretext in order that they may turn out the present patriotic State administration, and for this purpose have spent weeks in probing around the Executive and other State departments, if perchance in the immense duties of the present emergency they might scent out something over which they might howl in consonance with their interest. Unjustifiable and illegal as these attempts are, they have been boldly met, giving the Governor and heads of department an opportunity to present to the World a most triumphant and crushing vindication of their official conduct. They have proposed to remodel our Congressional districts for partisan purposes. They have declared their power to elect a United States Senator, and have shown a disposition to do so, for partisan purposes. They have smothered a proposition to permit our gallant soldiers to vote on their work in the drawer of a committee room, because they do not which them to vote, but dare not refuse them — all for partisan purposes. They have spent day after day in the discussion of that exploded humbug the banking question, knowing that the people have just lately almost unanimously decided against banks — and this, too, for partisan purposes. They have, however, actually done nothing as yet, of the business which the people sent them to do — nothing but waste money.
What they may do, or attempt to do, no mortal can predict. All they need to do, or that the people desire to have done, the Convention, if it was so disposed, could visit in a day and adopt, nearly as suddenly. But their object is not to make a Constitution; it is to readjust at State expense the substructure of the Democratic platform, that the old fosilized partisans who have been of late compelled to stand out in the chill to make room for new born Democrats, may again attain to the warmth of the family hearthstone.
The people have lost all hope. They begin to feel that it would be unsafe to adopt anything that is likely to originate from them of such principles and purposes. They have no hope even that they may get ashamed of themselves and change their course — they seem to be of the sort that "glory in their shame." All they now ask is that what is done may be done quickly, that the hanging may soon be brought to view. They will then, demonstrate to those gentlemen where the sovereign power of the State resides!