Douglas at Galena.
Tuesday, August 31, 1858.
Correspondence of the Chicago Press & Tribune.
GALENA, Aug. 25, '58.
The Courier (Douglas organ) of this morning put forth the mild suggestion that "owing to the great anxiety to hear the discussion between Douglas and Lincoln at Freeport on Friday," we need not "look for exactly a stunning crowd in this city to day." This means that we are a mighty host, get us all together, but we have such a passion for going sixty miles, paying railroad fare, and losing a day, that we can't afford to turn out and hear our great Dunderguns when he comes here to talk to us. The imploring remark of our pro-slavery editor has been more than realized. The Douglas demonstration has been a candle-box affair throughout. The only outside demonstration which visited us, were a boat load of Hibernians from Dubuque, and a small squad of our Irish fellow citizens from Shullsburgh, Wisconsin. The former landed about ten o'clock, marched up and deployed in front of the De Soto House, where they vociferated for "Douglas" before the great Dred Scottite would consent to show himself. He was evidently ashamed of them, and before he made his appearance, the impression that he considered them small potatoes, had become unpleasantly general. The "Reception," this morning, was strictly of the candle-box order. It consisted of three hacks and the odd half of a brass band.
The "trotting out" was effected at two o'clock in a clump of trees on the east side of the river. This was the place fixed on by the committee of arrangements, but the crowd was so puny that Douglas himself announced to the Dubuque Hibernians, and all whom it might concern, that he would not go to the grove, but would speak from the balcony of the De Soto House. About noon, however, his determination was negative by the committee, and the original programme was carried out. – The audience numbered between seven and eight hundred, exclusive of the Iowa crowd, at the outset, but was sadly depicted by a fight between a Hibernian from Dubuque and one of the domestic variety – in which, I am proud to say, the former was ignominiously worsted. The enthusiasm was in strict keeping with the oration – flabby, ireregular and candleboxy. It was as leaden as "Galena."
The most noticeable part of the harrangue to-day, was that devoted to an explanation of his forgery on the Republican Platform of 1854 – in his debate at Ottawa. It is held, in these parts, that Lincoln mashed him up like a poached egg, but the discovery of the forgery by the PRESS AND TRIBUNE, was a blow between the eyes with brass knuckles – and no mistake. This being the little forger's first speech after the detection, much curiosity was felt to know what crevice or key-hole would serve his purpose this time.
I will give you his language as near as I can recollect it. His speech is only half an hour cold, and I certainly shall not misstate him. It will be seen that he charges the crime over to his two "next friends," in such a way as to leave no doubt they were intentionally guilty, whatever opinion we may form of his complicity in the transaction. He charges them with counterfeiting the coin, while he is only guilty of passing 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 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 to not be mistaken, I addressed letters to Major Harris and Chas. 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, [what paper?] 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 committing a forgery! [A deep silence ensued.]
All this you need hardly be told, was improvised for the emergency. Douglas once read the same resolutions in the Senate, as being the Republican Platform of Illinois in 1854, and Trumbull denied it to his face.
Douglas got off his stereotyped blackguardism against Mr. Washburne – the same which he has flung at Kellogg, Lovejoy and Farnsworth. Mr. Washburne was on the ground, and said to the Douglas committee that he would pay the expenses for as many of these "demonstrations" as they would get up in the First District, if he might stipulate that Douglas should speak at all of them.
There will be a large turn-out from here to hear the Freeport debate, on Friday.