More of the Ottawa Forgery — Harris and Lanphier in a Split Stick.
August 30, 1858.
The bogus resolutions, which Mr. Douglas tried to palm off at Ottawa as the Republican platform of 1854, have proved a mighty "bad egg" for that "conscientious" gentleman. The exposure of the forgery has not only caused a rattling among the dry bones of his squad of followers, but has put Mr. Douglas upon his marrow bones, explaining and apologizing over the detected counterfeit coin. In his speech at Galena on the 25th, he made a studied endeavor to relieve himself of the odium of having willfully perpetrated a forgery upon the people. His manner of getting out of the dirty scrape is detailed by a Galena correspondent of the Chicago Press and Tribune. Here is the crevice through which he tries to creep. Read it.
"In 1856 (said Douglas) I heard Major Harris, the Representative in Congress from the Springfield District, read these resolutions and say they were adopted by the Republican Convention at Springfield, in October, 1854. Maj. Harris is a man who, you know, would not tell a falsehood. I heard him read these resolutions, as I have told you, from the stump, in the canvass of 1856. I had every reason for supposing they constituted the Republican State Platform. But in order not to be mistaken. I ADDRESSED LETTERS TO MAJOR HARRIS AND CHARLES H. LANPHIER, OF SPRINGFIELD, BEFORE THE OTTAWA DEBATE, REQUESTING THEM TO INFORM ME CIRCUMSTANTIALLY ON THAT POINT. THEY REPLIED IN TWO LETTERS WHICH I HAVE HERE, STATING THAT THESE RESOLUTIONS WERE ADOPTED BY THE BLACK REPUBLICAN CONVENTION OF 1854. One letter contained an extract from a paper published in the town where Mr. Lincoln lives, [The Register?] of the date of October 16, 1854 -- only eleven days after the meeting of the Convention. The extract says that the resolutions which I read at Ottawa, were the Republican State Platform. Had I not abundant reason for supposing they were the Republican State Platform of 1854? And yet, because I was led into this error, every Black Republican Abolition newspaper in the State is now charging me with committing a forgery!" [A dead silence ensues.]
To relieve himself, Mr. Douglas charges the crime of forgery over to his two next friends. How characteristic! How cool! Considerate only of himself, he deliberately places the burden of the infamy from his own shoulders upon Major Harris and the Editor of the State Register. They are pointed at as the guilty ones and are to be made Mr. Douglas' "scape grace." There seems then, to have been a deliberate conspiracy on the part of that worthy trio to palm the bogus resolutions upon the people as genuine. Douglas, to brace himself against any unpleasant consequences resulting from a detection of the fraud, had previously addressed letters to Messrs. Lanphier and Harris and got their indorsement and "circumstantial" statements!! Mr. Douglas' reference to Mr. Harris explains another little matter about the forgery. Some days ago, we received a note from Major Harris of the following tenor:
CHENERY HOUSE, Aug. 19.
Messrs. Bailhache & Baker: -- Will you be kind enough to send me, by the bearer, your file of the Illinois Journal of 1854? I wish to see an article (a communication I believe it was) concerning a debate in the canvass of that year, between my friend Yates and myself. I will return it presently.
I would call at your office, but a crippled him renders locomotion both difficult and painful. Very respectfully, your ob't serv't,
Thos. L. Harris.
What is a most remarkable coincidence, the very next day after Major Harris' examination of the JOURNAL files of 1854, the Register produced, with a grand parade, the identical set of forged resolutions which Mr. Douglas quoted at Ottawa as the Republican platform of 1854. Of course we can only infer, but putting this and that together, it is pretty clear that the plot was then being arranged, and the object of examining the JOURNAL files was to discover if they contained anything which would expose the forgery. Finding that the JOURNAL did not publish the proceedings of the Springfield Convention referred to, Messrs. Douglas, Harris, and the editor of the Register felt perfectly secure that the forgery would never be discovered, and that the bogus resolutions could be used with glorious effect in "bringing Mr. Lincoln to his milk." The letters Mr. Douglas refers to were to assure him that Major Harris had paraded the forgery with perfect success before the people in 1856, and that Mr. Douglas might use it with equal impunity. This explains also the dodge which the Register of Saturday makes use of, in asking us if the resolutions it published were not the genuine ones, to prove it by our files; that sheet well knowing, after a due search through them by Major Harris, that the JOURNAL did not publish the official proceedings of the Convention referred to.
The whole proceeding, as it is gradually coming to the light, wears a most hideous look, exhibiting a political profligacy and recklessness which are shameful in the extreme. But the most shameful part of the business is Douglas' attempted escape from it by laying the crime upon his two next friends. How will they remain quiet under the dishonorable imputation, in order to shield the little dodger from public indignation? We shall see. As the Press and Tribune remarks, it has thus far been the good fortune of Douglas to have in his interest men who would meekly accept of any amount of personal discourtesy which he might choose to inflict upon them; men who would quietly look on and see their well founded claims for services overslaughed by their master in favor of some eleventh-hour worshiper whose favor he considered it worth while to purchase, and it may be that in the present instance his usual good fortune will attend him.
But whatever may be the course of Major Harris with respect to the flagrant charge of Douglas, publicly preferred against him, the people will not let the little dodger off. His evasion of the responsibility of his own act is mean and pitiful to the last degree second only to the pusillanimity of trying to fasten it upon an absent friend, and while the dodge can not fail to excite the loathing of every ingenuous mind, it will by no means relieve Douglas from the charge of attempting a wilful deception and deliberate forgery upon the public.