xt7ngf0mst2r https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7ngf0mst2r/data/mets.xml Dudley, W. A. 1863  books b92e509o9618632009 English N/A : N/A Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Kentucky --Politics and government --1861-1865 Overthrow of the ballot! A complete history of the election in the state of Kentucky, August 3d, 1863 text Overthrow of the ballot! A complete history of the election in the state of Kentucky, August 3d, 1863 1863 2009 true xt7ngf0mst2r section xt7ngf0mst2r 


of the

Election in the State of Kentucky,


The following address of a committee in behalf of the Democratic party of Kentucky, fully sustained as it is, by convincing evidence, will no doubt arrest the attention of the people of the Confederate States.

The gentlemen composing the committee, are reputed and known as statesmen of commanding talents and influence, and are the exponents of a large party, which, uiatil last summer, had voted and- acted with the Union or Lincoln party. The secession of this party from the Federal administration will powerfully reduce the popular force of the Lincoln" supporters in that State. Independent of this seism in the Federal party, there never has been a doubt, that the Southern-rights party of that State, with an honest and unterrified votei would carry any general election by an overwhelming majority.

The documentary proof appehded to Jhe address cannot fail to impress conviction on every fair'mind, that the Executive, Legislative and Judicial elections of Kentucky were constrained and dictated by1 a military despotism, and are gross violations of the Constitution and laws of that State.

If this new and powerful party will act with the spirit and manhood of freemen, Kentucky will break the chaiifs which now shackle her, and redeem her from the reproach of a tame submission to a despotism which crushes her personal and political liberties.


An Address to the People and Congress of the United- States:

In response to numerous inquiries addressed to     us from every quarter, we ask leave to submit to the people of the United States the following paper-in explanation of tht canvass which preceded the recent election in Kentucky, and of the onuses which led to its most unexpected result   unexpected not so much by . ourselves, who hud from sad experience already learned the extreme and desperate character of the measures that would be resorted 'o by the Administration party to suppress the voice of our people, as by'those of you who, living in leis trou-. bled regions, had not realized the exteut to which a determination to retain power would lead its possessors.

In the last days of August, 1863, the Hon. Beriah Magoffin resig ed his offlca as Governor of the State of Kentucky. From causes into which it is not necessary now to enter, he had incurred the suspicion of a great majority Of the Union party, and through the Legislature they had succeeded in divesting him of all real .power in the Government. The Executive control of the State had rapidly fallen into the hands of the military officers of the United States, and for months the people hUd been subject to martial law in all its oppressiveness, without its declaration in form. Under these circumstances, and for the purposo of relieving the people, and especially that portion of them known as " Southern-Rights Men," who had been the peculiar objects of parsccutiou, Mr. Magoffin, in- a published letter, declared his willingness to resign whenever he could be assured of the election of a..successor of conservative views, who, commanding the confidence at the same time of the Administration at Washington and of the people of Kentucky, would be able and willing to secure every peaceful citizen in the exercise of the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution and laws. The Hon. Jas. T. Robinson, then a member of the Senate, was indicated to him, and he consented to resign in his favor, Then the Speaker of the "Senate resigned, and Mr. Robinson having been elected in his stead, became by virtue of his office the acting Governor of the State upon the resignation of Mr. Magoffin. The new Governor was, from the beginning, fully informed of the character and purpose of the negotiation which paved the way to his succession, and he enter*] upon the discharge of his duties with the best wishes of the great mass of our people.

These events gave-rise to the-mcst pleasing anticipations, winch were strengthened by the first acts of the new regime. Early in September the State was invaded by Confederate troops, who held possession for six weeks of the greater ' portion of its territory. The people, content with, and hopeful of the new order of things, gave thern little encouragement and but few recruits, so that by ,he first of November they were driven froni. our borders. But, contrary to all our hopes, w inter brought with it a renewal of military government; orders issuing from military officers of every grade,'imposed daily more stringent regulations upon our commerce with other loyal States ; wider signification wits given to the term disloyal, by which the victims were marked out for oppression ; arrests without warrant'and imprisonment without trial became once more the established system of justice; the property of suspected persons was again seized and appropriated ' to the use of the army without compensation ; the civil power was of course to be not more effective in the hands of Mr. Robinson than in lihosc of his predecessor, and spring found, the rights of person and properly .even more insecure than in the darkest hours Of the pravious year. '

The Legislature, composed mainly of the personal and- political friends of Governor Robinson, during their session in the winter, had passed resolutions of a strongly conservative character, in which they declared, among other things: -

1. That our institutions are mailed by an armed rebellion on one aide, which 

can only be met by the sword, and on the other by .unconstitutional acts of Con-gress and startling usurpations of power by the Executive, which we have seen by experience can be corrected by the ballot-box.

2. That Kentucky isand ever has been loyal to the Government of the United States.

$. That we recognize a manifest difference, between any administration of the Government and the Government itself.

4. Solemnly protests against the emancipation proclamation as unwise, unconstitutional and void.     t

5. That the power recently assumed by the President, whereby, under the guise of military necessity, he has proclaimed and extended martial law oyer States where war does not exist, and has suspended the writ of habeas corpus, is unwarranted by the Constitution, and its tendency is to subordinate civil to military authority, and to subvert constitutional and free government.

8. That Kentucky will adhere to the Constitution and the Union as the best, and, it may be, the last hope of popular freedom.

9. Hails with manifest pleasure the recent manifestation of conservative sentiment among the people of the non-slaveholding States.

10. Recommends the call of a National Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution.

11. Declares that the laws of this State must be maintained and enforced, and that it is the duty of tho constituted authorities of the State to see to it that by all constitutional means this indispensable end shall be attained.

These resolutions were signed and approved by the Governor.

In February, the Central Committee of the Democratic party, appointed some years sinco under its old organization, issued a call for a Convention to meet in Frankfort .to nominate candidates for the various offices to be filled at the August election. With this call we had no connection, and we neither attended the meeting nor approved of its expected action. Upon its assemblage, arid bcforo any'busincss had been transacted, the meeting was dispersed by Col. Gilbert, then commanding a regiment of United States troops at Frankfort. ' *

The Convention of .the so-called " Union Democratic" party met in Louisvillo on the 18th of March. One of their first acts was to refuse a hearing to a Northern Democrat   the Hon. Mr. Cravens, of Indiana   a member of the great party whose manifestations of conservative sentiment had so recently been hailed with pleasure by the Legislature. They readopted as part of their platform- all the resolutions passed by the Legislature, and nominated as their candidate the non. J. F. Bell. After long hesitation, Mr. Bell declined the candidacy, and the Central Committeo of his party substituted in his stead Mr. Bramlette, who had been .the frequent recipient of office from the Administration, and had been generally regarded as a supporter of its policy.

Uader those circumstances, and early in the month of June, a letter was written by one of us residing in the interior of the State to another residing in i Louisville, in which it was Suggested that a meeting of the conservative Union [men should bo called for the purpose of consultation as to the proper course to be ^pursued by them.

I Before bur meeting was held, Mr. Bramlette had already taken the stump, and [though the newspapers of his party exercised a prudent caution in refraining from [publishing a report or even a notice of his speeches, we were not without iufor-mation of their character.   The platform of that party to which he owed his Inomination denounced as startling usurpations of power the suspension of the Jwrit of habeas corpus and the extension of martial law over States where war did |not exist.   We learned that, on the contrary, Mr. Bramlette maintained in argu-Imentthe rightfulness of these measures.    The platform denounced the emancipation proclamation as unwise, unconstitutional and void.   Mr. Bramlette contended .;that it was valid as a war measure, though he regarded it as impolitic. The platform hailed with pleasure the recent manifestations of conservative sentiment, '"at the North, while Mr. Bramlette denounced those whom he derisively termed Constitutional Union men finite as violently as the Secessionists, and, finally, he threatened with the tender mercies of the provost marshal all such malignants as, 
   should perversely refuse to vote for him, even though he was without a competitor. -       .     '.

Under these circumstances, it will .surprise no one that on meeting we found ourselves agreed in approving, with some exceptions, the resolutions of the " Union Democratic" Convention, but equally agreed in distrusting the sincerity of the men by whom the resolutions had been adopted, and particularly of the candidate by whom, if at all, th'ey were to be enforced. We, "therefore, determined to present a ticket in opposition, and agreeing without difficulty upon the principles by which our candidate should be guided.y we addressed to the Hon. ClArles A. Wickliffe the letter which will be found in our appendix, marked No. 1. That letter fully explains our purpose and our policy.     Whether- they were " disloyal" in any sense of that much abused term, we leave to every candid reader to determine for himself.

'Mr. Wickliffe in a published letter, expressed his hearty concurrence in our views. He accepted with reluctance the position we had assigned him, and we proceeded to place a full ticket in the field. Few did more than Mr. Wickliffe to maintain the fidelity of Kentucky to the Constitution and Government of the. United States, and he has not chatiged his principles or policy.

We are at once assailed by the Administration press with every species pf misrepresentation and abuse. Not daring to assail any position taken in our letter to     Mr. Wickliffe (which* they refused to publish,) they adopted the safer course of attributing to us purposes which they knew we did not entertain. Though it was perfectly well known to them that we, the signers of that paper, had been active and consistent members of the Union party, when such a position was accompanied with some danger and no prospect of advantage, we were denounced as Secessionists in disguise, at a time when Secession, partly through our own'efforts, had become a dead issue in Kentucky. We had but a single newspaper in the State to advocate our cause. We could not attempt an active canvass of the State, for we were well aware that such a canyass would expose to the Administration party its perilous position, and thus precipitate that military interference in the election which we were most anxious to avoid. In this manner and from these causes many persons in the State   many more abroad   were led into a misapprehension of our purposes, and made to; believe, that secession was our-real aim. Knowing our strength, however, we we>e content to lose a few of our friends for the time, in the hope of securing a free election, which would give us the means of recovering them by a development of our true policy. . [It is very frankly admitted that we hoped and expected' to obtain the support of the great mass of the Southern rights men of the State. They were for the most part Democrats of long standing. Though classed by the adherents of the Administration as "disloyal," the great majority of them were not Secessionists, and were entirely free from all complicity in the rebellion./ So far from esteeming it a fault of which we should be ashamed, we regarded the effort to conciliate them, if it could be done without a sacrifice of principle on either side, as highly meritorious ; and we now gratefully acknowledge the cordial support which that portion of our fellow-citizens were ready and anxious to yield to our platform and candidate whenever permitted to do so. Would to God that all the citizens of our once happy country could be brought to agree and be satisfied. If the wildest secessionist in South Carolina could be induced to give his support to the pripciples enunciated in our letter to Mr. Wickliffe, who would not regard the occurrence as one worthy of general rejoicing ?]

In a short time.it 'became evident that.misrepresentation alone was not sufficient to secure our defeat, and Messrs. Wolfe and Trimble, our candidates for Copgress in the First and Fifth Districts, and Mr. Martin, candidate for the Legislature in Lyon and Livingston counties, were arrested by the provost marshals. The first nam  d gentleman was speedily released on parole, and the two last were carried, to Henderson, a considerable distance from their homes, and there detained until the election was over. .

On the 10th day of July, Governor Robinson, issued the proclamation which will be found in the Appendix, marked No. 2. It had never before occurred to a Governor of Kentucky that it was necessary to remind judges of election by 

proclamation: of the duties enjoined upon them by the laws of the State. They had always been presumed to know their duty, and been left free to discharge it without executive interference. The expatriation act to which he called their attention, had been printed with the other acts of the Legislature and circulated by public authority in every county of the State. It had been published in every newspaper, and the provisions of no law were more widely known to our people. Why it should have been thoughtproper to depart from the established custom in this instance, and why, when such departure was determined upon as now necessary for the first time, the proclamation should have failed to embody for the information and guidance of the judges those other laws which forbid any interference with the freedom of elections^and denounce severe penalties upon any judge who should refuse to receive the vote of a legally qualified elector, are questions which we leave the reader at liberty to decide for himself, after learning all the facts attending and following the issue of the paper.

On the 31st day of July, General Burnside issued his proclamation (Appendix Xo. 2) placing that State under martial law, for the purpose, as he declared, "of preserving the purity of elections as defined in the late proclamatien of his Excellency, the Governor of Kentucky." The reason assigned by General Burnside for the issuance of his proclamation that " the State of Kentucky is invaded by a rebel force with the avowed purpose of controlling the elections," was a mere pretext, without real foundation, though we have reason to believe that such information was conveyed to the General by citizens of.this State, acting on behalf of the Administration party. The "invaders" to whom he referred were a flying body of cavalry less than one thousand in number, known to be in rapid retreat at the time the proclamation, was issued, and.were all actually out of the State .before the election began.

Upon the most careful inquiry we have been unable to ascertain that they avowed any such purpose as was attributed to them, nor do we believe that they did so. But the avowal of such an intention by such a body of men, even had it been made, would have been an idle and ridiculous boast; to which it is impossible General Burnside could have attached any importance. That one thousand marauders should seriously contemplate a control-of the election in a State contain-ingone hundred and ten counties, inhabited by one hundred and eighty thousand voters, and protected by more than fifty thousand soldiers of the United States, is an absurdity so glaring that General Burnside must pardon us for behaving that it could not have gulled even him!

In quick succession preceding or following the declaration of martial law, came the different orders in the appendix numbered from four to twelve. Many others of similar'character were issued, but these are a fair sample of the whole. Thgse orders differing in their details, may be briefly summed up as'presenting the following points."

1. By way of precaution the people are informed that whenever any property is needed for the use of the United States army, it will be taken from rebel x'yntpalhizers, and receipts given for the same marked "disloyal," and to be paid at the end of the war, on proof that the holder is a loyal man.

2. Rebel sympathizers are defined to be not only those who ar   in favor of secession, but also those who are not in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war and of furnishing men and money unconditionally for that purpose. " Loyalty " is to be proved by the vote given at the election.

3. County Judge3 are required to appoint none but " loyal " men as judges of election, notwithstanding the provisions of our laws, which require the officers of election to be taken equnlly from each political party.

4. Persons offering to vote, whose votes may be rejected by the judges, are notified that they will be immediately arrested by the military.

5. The judgds of election are notified that they will be arrested and held responsible by the military, should they permit any disloyal men to vote.

G. The Democratic tickot is struck from the poll-books at many points, as being composed of disloyal men:

7. Oaths unknown to the Constitution and laws are required to be taken by the voters and judges. 

A careful perusal of the orders themselves will show that they have not been misrepresented in this summary. Examine carefully, fellow-citizens, we beseech you, the picture which they present. The Governor of Kentucky calls the attention of the judges to a single one of many laws which define their duty, and that one a law whose rigid enforcement was supposed to be beneficial to his own political party and injurious only to his opponents. General Burnside enforces the proclamation for the purpose of preserving the purity Of elections, and (while himself threatening the judges of election, should they permit a disloyal vote to be cast) directs that the soldier shall interfere no further than may be necessary to enable the judges to discharge their duties under the laws of Kentucky. His subordinates threaten the judges and voters with confiscation^ arrest and imprisonment and actually publish their orders and carry out their threats without punishment from the General or remonstrance from the Governor.

In addition to all this there was at work beneath the surface a potent machinery, whose labors could be traced only by results, for the work was done, in darkness and in secret.

In every city, town and considerable village in the Commonwealth, there had long been organized, under the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury, a body of men known as a " Board of Trade," an innocent title, little expressive of their true functions. Under the same regulations of the Secretary no shipments of goods to the interior of the State could be made without the permit of the United States Custom House officers at Cincinnati or Louisville. In order to obtain such a permit the individual applying must have procured the recommendation of the " Board of Trade" located-nearest to his place of business, and tho recommendation was given to none but "loyal" men, each Board establishing its own test of "loyalty." Without such recommendation no merchant could hope to add to his stock by importation   no mechanic to replenish tho materials necessary in his calling. These inquisitorial bodies, therefore, held in their hands the absolute fate of every tradesman and mechanic in the State. The prosperous merchant and needy shopkeeper were alike at their mercy. Tho tradesman and mechanic were thus left to choose between a vote for Mr. Bramlette and the utter ruin of their business.

Such, fellow-citizens, were tho circumstances under which the election of Aug. 3d was begun. Its result was no longer doubtful. Had Gen. Burnside designated by name the individuals who should fill the various offices of the State, he would have saved us the expense and trouble of an "election"   the rights of the people would not have been more flagrantly violated, nor would the officials thus appointed have been amy more the creatures of his will than are those whom he has more indirectly imposed upon us.

The limits to which we are confined, forbid any attempt at a detailed account of the manner in which the "election" was conducted. The military orders before referred to were carried out with rare fidelity, by those to whom their execution was entrusted. A few officers (to their lasting praise be it spoken,) openly expressed the shame they felt at their connection with such a task. Armed soldiers were stationed at every considerable poll. The judges of election were, contrary to law, taken exclusively from the ranks of our opponents. Many weak men, apprehensive of injury to person and property, cast their votes for Mr. Bramlette, in violation of their convictions. The votes of many more; when offered for our candidates, were illegally rejected. Thousands of others were deterred from an attempt to vote by the knowledge that illegal tests would be applied to them, their votes refused, and themselves probably arrested. The names of our candidates were illegally stricken from the poll books at many precincts, and never plaoed upon them at others. Judges were arrested for refusing to conduct the election in a manner forbidden by the laws of Kentucky and their own oath, and voters were imprisoned for the high crime of confessing themselves Democrats.

These are' sweeping charges, but they can readily be substantiated. That we may not be supposed to avoid specification, we publish in the appendix (marked No. lfi) a statement showing the outrages perpetrated afr different points in more than twenty counties. Our materials are ample to swell the list almost indefinitely, but these will be sufficient to indicate the general character of the whole. The 

facts stated are, some of them, within our personal knowledge   the remainder .have been communicated to us by gentlemen in whose veracity we have entire confidence, and whose names are in our possession. We particularly invite your attention to the report of Major Gibson, tho certificates of Capt. Leeson and Sergeant Brown, and the protest of the Hon. Charles A. Wickliffe, official documents whose correctness even our opponents will not question. They are numbered %, 18, 14 and 15 in the appendix.

In connection with these statements, and as fully supporting thorn, we publish in the appendix (marked No. 17) a table showing the official vote cast for each candidate for Governor, and, in parallel columns, the total vote cast, and the number of white males over twenty-one years of age, in each county. It will be perceived that the whole number of vote's cast was 84,9X0, of which Mr. Bramlette received 07,586, while the Lumber of persons entitled to vote was 182,246. The votes of over 97 thousand citizens were, therefore, unpolled. How these votes would have been cast had the electioii been untrammeled, is a question which we think every candid reader of this paper has already determined in his mind.    We have shown that every species of inducement was offered to allure the voter to the one party   every means of intimidation and violence had been used to prevent his support of the other. We now leave our readers to draw their own conclusions as to the direction in which the unpolled vote would have been cast had all external influence been removed.

Returning to the table of the vote cast, it will be perceived that m twelve counties not a single vote was permitted to be cast for Wickliffe. In eight others ho received less than ten votes to the county. In fifteen others he received less than fifty votes to the county. Iu sixteen others he received less than one hundred votes to the county. These fifty-one counties embrace many of the strongest Democratic counties in the-State.

In only twenty-eigjit counties of the State did Mr. Bramlette receive a majority of the population entitled to vote. Less than two-fifths of the populetion entitled to vote have made him Governor of Kentucky.

It is contended by the Administration press that the deficiency in, the vofe cast is attributable to the absence of many Kentucky soldiers in the army of the United States, all of whom would have voted for Mr. Bramlette, and the enlistment of others in tho Southern arniies, who have thereby lost the right to vote.    On this point we have to say   

First. That the number of white males over twenty-one years of age, as published in our appendix, is taken from the Auditor's report for 1802, aid notwithstanding the accession of thousands of young men. to the age of maturity iu the meantime, it is nine thousand less in number than wns reported by the Auditor in 1S61. The falling off can be accounted for in no other way than by the fact, that ' the soldiers who had left their homes to join either army, in the fall of 1861, were dropped from the returns, and arc not included in the Auditor's report for 1862.

Secondly. That hundreds of those who were known to be friendly to the Administration were furloughed and sent home to vote.

Thirdly. That a large number of Kentuckians in the United States army are under 21 years of age, and therefore not entitled to vote; and lastly, that they are very far from being unanimous in support of Mr. Bramlette or the Administration.

We have said, however, that our object is to state what Has happened, not to speculate upon what might or would have happened in contingencies which did not occur. To nil fuch speculation on the part of our opponcn's we answer by a single question : If the majority of the people were in favor of your candidates, why resort to illeijal and nnconstituiumal means to disfranchise its ?

It will already have occurred to the intelligent reader that an election thus carried should have been contested. The Constitution of Kentucky provides that ' all elections shall be free and equal," that the privilege of f-.ee suffrage shall be Supported by laws regulating elections and ^proliWitinij, under adeijuate penalties, all undue inflvcjices thereon from bribery, tumult or other improper practices," and that "contested elections for Governor and Lieutenant-Governor shall be 

determined by the General Assembly, according to such regulations as may be established by law." Surely the spirit of these provisions .would avoid any election such as we have describe^. Unfortunately, however, the laws enacted in conformity with them Impose penalties upon the persons guilty of the offenses against the right of free suffrage, enumerated in the Constitution, without providing that the validity of the election itself shall be in anywise affected by the commission of such offenses. Our law-givers did not contemplate the possibility of a forcible interference so extensive as to taint the whole election ; and so, in establishing a Board for the trial of contested, elections, they made no provision for such a contingency, but simply directed that " the candidate receiving the highest number of legal votes given" should be adjudged to be the person elected.

As the investigation is thus limited to the number of'legal votes given, it matters not how many men were driven into the support of Mr. Bramlette by threats of military violence, nor how many others were deterred from voting for Mr. Wickliffe by the knowledge that their votes, if offered, would not be received. The arrest of Judges' and voters, the erasure t>f the names of candidates from the poll books, the administration of illegal oaths   all these, too, are wrongs which do not so affect the validity of an election as to be available in a contest before the tribunal established by law   a tribunal, be it remembered, whose own seats had been obtained by the same practices upon which their judgment was to bo asked.    Considerations like these constrained us reluctantly to abandon all idea of contesting the election, and have left us without other remedy than this appeal to the sober judgment of the people.

    On the 1st day of September Mr. Bramlette took the oaths and entered upon the discharge of the duties of the office to which he had thus been elected. His inaugural address lies before us, aiid while to many of his positions we can make no objection, there are passages to be found in it whicn strikingly illustrate the correctness of the suspicions which led us to nominate a candidate in opposition to him. He continues to defend the rightfulness of military arrests without limiting his argument to the theatre of hostilities.. He maintains the right to restrain the publication of newspapers, when "reasonable grounds" exist to believe, that they have been guilty of, or are about to commit acts to the danger of the public security, without intimating who is to decide upon the reasonable character of the suspicions. He objects to the policy of negro enlistments, but admits theexistence.of a lightful power in the Administration for that purpose.    He denies the right of the people to limit or control the public expenditure in time of war. In these most important particulars, he contradicts the platform of his party. Ho does far more : He denies to the citizen those invaluable rights of freedom from arrest without warrant, of free speech, of control over public supplies, for which the English people fought for five hundred years, and which our forefathers inheriting from them, believed they had bequeathed to us inviolate forever. '   ,

For the present, fellow-citizens, the fate of Kentucky is sealed. Her very devotion to the Constitution has been made the means whereby to deprive her people of every constitutional right. Deceived and betrayed, she lies prostrate 'and helpless   wept by her friends   derided by the oppressors. But there is that in the spirit of her people which tells us it will not be for long. Like fabled Anta-sns, who, each time he touched his mother earth, started up with redoubled strength, her fall will tflit invigorate her for a struggle yet to come. That hor independence may be restored to her by the peaceful.remedies of the Constitution, rather than by violent convulsion, must be the earnest prayer of every lover of his country.

    We, therefore, present this address to the people of the United States, and especially to the Congress of the United.States, soon to assemble; praying that body to adopt such measures as, in their judgment, will secure to the States adhering to the Union, the freedom of election, without which, the very basis of our liberties is destroyed.