The Democrats Of Illinois
Philip Bond Fouke of Illinois
United States House of Representatives, December 24 1859

I will say to my friends of the South that our political contests in Illinois are more in the nature of revolutions than ordinary political contests; they are revolutions, sweeping over the whole State, from Cairo to Chicago, from the mouth of the Ohio to Lake Michigan. You fight these Republicans at a distance, and know nothing of the trials and difficulties of the Democratic party in Illinois; yet I find some Democrats from your section who are willing to announce to the House that under certain circumstances they will not support the nominee of the Charleston convention. I take it for granted that any man who takes this position estops himself from going into or taking part in that convention. We, the Democrats of a free State, stand between the two extremes. You fight your battles over our heads.

Again gentlemen from the extreme North have nothing to do but yield to the prejudices of their constituents, and they are floated into seats upon this floor which they may retain for a lifetime. Gentlemen from the South have nothing to do but to yield to the extreme prejudices of their constituents, and the effect is the same; but we, the Democrats of Illinois, if we come here at all, must come by virtue of the strength and justice of our appeals to the people; we cannot come otherwise. These truths are attested by public experience. We stand constantly trembling for fear that by some indiscretion of our friends we may be swept away - swept into political nonentity. I ask gentlemen from the South that they will commit no indiscretion that shall make it more difficult for us to sustain ourselves, and consequently them and the great Democratic party. We are willing to stand by you to the last. We are willing to carry the flag of the Democratic party into the thickest of the fight. We are willing to forget the past and bury past grievances.

Now, then, Mr. Clerk, one word in regard to my colleague, who addressed the House yesterday, and his excellent friend, John Wentworth, the editor of the Chicago Democrat. I know his answer exactly, if I were to ask him who John Wentworth is? He is the man who baptized the Republican party in Illinois. He is the man who designated the time and place for holding the Republican convention of the State of Illinois in 1856. He is the man who suggested the candidates for that convention. He is really the embodiment of the Republican party of that State. My colleague will not gainsay that declaration - never, never; because my colleague is one of his peculiar protoges, trained by him in all his political opinions, some of which he has attempted to maintain upon this floor. That is the truth. But, although avoiding some of his opinions and doctrines, he will not avow all of them, lest he might injure the Republican party -

Mr. FARNSWORTH. My colleague is altogether mistaken. He is not posted.

They know very well in Northern Illinois that the sentiments of John Wentworth are the sentiments of the Republican party. John Wentworth has never been the candidate for any local office that my colleague has not been foremost in the fight, and in his endeavors to carry the contest to a successful termination.

Now, sir, for the sake of showing my friend's sympathy with John Wentworth, and that John Wentworth did sympathize with John Brown, I ask the Clerk to read the following extract from the Chicago Democrat, Wentworth's paper.

The Clerk read, as follows:
"The old gentleman (Brown) is still alive, and likely to recover, and talks to the slaveholders like a bold and conscientious man - one who was not afraid to die in the cause of human liberty; while some papers, professing to be friendly to that cause, are cowardly setting their sails to the justification of his martyrdom, merely because they fear that his zeal will hurt an organization out of which they hope to get office. Had such papers existed in the time of the American Revolution, their sensibilities would have been awfully shocked at the many outrages which the revolutionists perpetrated upon the traitors and tories of those days. We think we hear them crying 'Do not hurt the pary.'"

That was published in the Chicago Democrat soon after John Brown was imprisoned. Do not hurt the party! And I think I heard the leaders of the Republican party on the other side of the House say to my friend yesterday - "do not hurt the party;" and this accounts for the studied silence, of which so much has been said. Hurting the party is what you are afraid of. It is well known that the sentiments you proclaim among your constituents, you dare not utter upon this floor. Now allow me to read an extract which appeared in the same paper, a few days after the one which has just been read:

"This cry of hurting the party used to alarm us. We used to see its ghost nights, but now we care only for principles; and we are going wherever those principles lead us; and there is nothing old Ossawotomie Brown can do that will throw the least spot or blemish upon those principles.
"Old Ossawatomie stands out like Kosciusko, Emmet, Kossuth, Garibaldi, and other leaders of unsuccessful revolutions. Old Brown did not intend to enslave anybody. His object was freedom; freedom to every person that was accountable to Almighty God for his actions.
"What is the Republican party for? For freedom! What is all the money given to the underground railroad for? For freedom! Now, every one that gives a dollar for the Democratic party in Kansas, for the underground railroad, for Cuban or South American filibusters, or for importing slaves into this country from the coast of Africa, is just as guilty as old Brown."

I now call upon my Democratic friends to reflect for a moment. You see the kind of men we have to fight, when fighting your battles with our own; and my colleague dare not rise in his place here to denounce John Wentworth for these incendiary sentiments. If he did, he could not return to Congress with Wentworth's approbation. Therefore, I say that the Republican party in the North is abolitionized.


The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 15, Monday, December 26, 1859, page 236