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May 4, 1872


From the New York Herald of Sunday, the 21st inst., we copy one of the most remarkable indications that have as yet appeared in the political horizon. The article itself is a most powerful argument in favor of the movement in which we are engaged, but it is not more remarkable than the fact that it should have a place in the New York Herald, which apparently is so earnest an advocate of the re-election of General Grant:


To the Editor of the Herald:

It has been announced and it is now generally understood among the more radical and progressive classes throughout the United State that a National Convention of the various bodies, organizations and movements which represent the revolutionary spirit of the country, as relates to political, social, religious, and educational reforms, is to [be] held in Steinway Hall, in the city of New York, the 9th and 10th of May proximo. The object for which the Convention has been called is a purely political one, namely, to form a coalition, if possible of all those classes of citizens everywhere that are devoted more to the principles of justice, of truth, of freedom and equal rights than to the success either of the Republican or Democratic parties; and in case the Convention shall agree upon a definite course of political action to be pursued, to nominate candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States for the next Presidential term.

The Convention referred to is expected to be composed of representatives of the following organizations, viz.: --The National Labor Party, the International Workingmen’s Association, the Woman Suffrage party, the Temperance party, the Peace party, the Spiritualists, the Liberal or non-Evangelical Christians, the Free Religionists, the Free-Thinkers, the Free Lovers, the Land Reformers, the Socialists, Communists, Positivists, Harmonialists, etc. Now the question arises, "How or upon what theory is it expected that a convention representing such a variety, if not a diversity of ideas, will so far fraternize, fuse and consolidate as to come to an understand that will be satisfactory to the different elements composing it, promote the ideas they respectively represent, and secure the earnest and undivided support of all the elements thus represented in the present political campaign? How is such a convention to agree upon candidates who would represent so many reforms or movements? Who will the candidates probably be?"

Each class of voters represented in the convention may be supposed to have its favorite exponents, its great champions, leading spirits and ideal representatives of what it conceives to be the important issue of the times, and whom it would prefer to have as the Chief Magistrate. For instance, the labor party has already nominated Judge Davis, of Illinois, as its choice, and it may be unwilling to drop him and go for a coalition candidate. Then there are the Internationals with their favorite, whoever he may be—may be Wendell Phillips. Next, the woman suffrage party may clamor to have Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Theodore Tilton or Victoria C. Woodhull nominated. The temperance party may urge the nomination of George Francis Train or some other temperance champion. The Spiritualists may want Andrew Jackson Davis or Robert Dale Owen, and the other factions, likewise, may each have their champion and leader, to be nominated if they can. Here, then, is a probability of a very wide difference of honest opinion coming together, and an opportunity for disagreements, schisms, confusion, and defeat of the objects in view, unless the wisest counsels are allowed to govern, and a spirit of concession and of mutual support and dependence prevail in the sessions of the Convention. the individuals above named are known to the public as the exponents as the special phase of radical thought and reform. If any of them should be nominated at the New York Convention, it is, to say the least, doubtful whether they would receive the undivided support of the different factions or bodies to be represented in the Convention. Indeed, it is not improbable that the nomination of any of them might result in some of the parties to the convention entirely withholding their allegiance and support to the nominee and the new party, and thus endanger the success of the whole movement. It seems to be plain that some sort of compromise will have to be effected before a candidate can be selected who would stand any chance of election or of receiving the whole vote of all the classes holding the convention. Now, the course which a wise policy would indicate in such a state of things as the one most likely to meet the exigencies of all classes, would be not to press the nomination of any person for the Presidency who is notoriously identified with, or the recognized champion of any special phase of reform, for the reason that such persons, however good and competent they may be, are generally unpopular, distasteful and obnoxious to the popular mind. The convention should select a candidate who is friendly and tolerant, or at least not unfriendly and intolerant, to the various ideas animating the new party, and one, if possible, who is well and favorably known to the public, and to whom, if elected, the people would look up to with confidence and respect. As fulfilling these requirements in an eminent degree greater, perhaps, than could be found in any other individual—may be named


Mr. Beecher’s character, abilities and fame are world-wide, and would in themselves be a tower of strength to any party that would choose him for their candidate. His history and antecedents are known to everybody. His influence is already felt over the civilized world. His sermons, lectures and speeches have been more widely and generally read the past twenty years than the utterances of almost any contemporaneous public teacher. Furthermore, Mr. Beecher is a liberalist, in his views and teachings. Some would consider him very radical. He, for instance, has from his own Plymouth pulpit endorsed the Internationals and eulogized the Paris Communists; he has admitted the main points of Spiritualism; he has surrendered the infallibility of the Scriptures, or dogma of plenary inspiration; he repudiates the doctrine of eternal punishment; he favors woman suffrage and the equality of the sexes; he is the patron of temperance, peace, toleration, progress. In a word, Mr. Beecher is a man of reasonable ideas, honest and frank, possessing a mind open to the convictions of reason and truth and the intuitions of his soul. Of his devotional nature it is quite unnecessary to speak.

Taking this view of the New York Convention and Mr. Beecher, it is questionable whether there is a person in the United States who combines in himself so many of the elements of success as a candidate for the Presidency as Mr. Beecher, and who would at the same time represent to an equal extent the radical and progressive character of the proposed new party. Perhaps the strongest opposition to the nomination of Mr. Beecher would come from the anti-ecclesiastical class, for the reason that he is a Christian minister, and that his church proclivities might bias his judgment in favor of ecclesiastical laws and measures to the detriment of the cause of justice, freedom and religious liberty. But it will be well for this class to remember (and the writer of this of that class himself) that Mr. Beecher is no a narrow-minded bigot in religion and morals, but reasonably liberal and moderate in his views; and, furthermore, that no anti-Christian or infidel candidate would, if nominate, secure one-half the support from the people of the United States which Mrs. Beecher would. If the New York Convention nominates a man or woman for President who is the representative of some "one idea," unpopular, incomprehensible and distasteful to the people at large, the result may be the signal defeat of such candidate and party, and the cause which will be made to sustain the shock will be injured, perhaps, retarded for years, instead of promoted. In the estimation of many people there is a certain degree of odium, of unpopularity, a lacking of respectability, which attaches for instance, to the agitation of woman’s rights, spiritualism, skepticism, free love, sexology, etc. The several reforms are now making rapid progress in revolutionizing public opinion; but, should the devotees of these reforms run a candidate for the White House solely on these issues, there is no probability it would meet with anything but defeat, and the cause, as well as the candidates, would be made the butt of partisan abuse, calumny, misrepresentation, ridicule and reproach. These reforms are too young and yet too tender to endure the giant kicks and bruises they would inevitable get in a contest with the brute forces of political warfare during the excitement of a Presidential campaign. What utility or wisdom could there be in running the gauntlet of popular condemnation when nothing can be gained but much may be lost?

On the contrary should Mr. Beecher receive the nomination of the New York Convention, that gentleman would stand a fair chance for election next November. The only point of difficulty about the matter will be whether the new party could frame a platform of principles which Mr. Beecher could conscientiously accept and stand upon. Unless the proposed new party make some such compromise and such a nomination as is herein indicated, the chances of the new party for political power would seem to be a forlorn hope. Can the several factions which the new party is to embrace make the necessary concessions, sacrifices and compromises, which the success of the movement and the necessities of the case demand? Can Mr. Beecher reciprocate in like manner and accommodate himself to the exigencies of the times and the progressive spirit of that party that, possibly may thus choose him as the candidate for the Presidency of the United States? Can the proposed new political coalition place upon their ticket the name of any man of equal strength and popularity which would in the least degree represent the principles and spirit of the party? What other person could the new party begin to elect in the present campaign? Would Mr. Beecher, even if defeated as the candidate of the new party, suffer any loss; either politically, socially, or morally, by accepting such a nomination? Would not he, and the new party also, be strengthened, consolidated, and made more powerful for the future, even should such a nomination fail of election next fall? The writer of this frankly admits that Mr. Beecher is not his first choice. He could name several persons whom he would prefer should occupy the Presidential chair; but he knows very well they would stand but a poor chance for election, even in nominated by the Convention. As long as we cannot at present elevate to the Presidency the person who would be our first choice, let us do the best we can in that direction. None of the existing political parties in the United States can nominate a candidate who would answer the make-up of the proposed coalition near so well as does Mr. Beecher, and if he be not the beau ideal of the new party, he is much nearer to it than any Democratic or Republican candidate will be. If the New York Convention nominate Mr. Beecher it would, at any rate, be taking a step in the right direction, and with it a fair prospect of a popular campaign and final success. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are in a state of rapid decomposition and dissolution. Let the live, progressive, but at present despondent members of those parties unite with the new national party to be formed at the New York Convention next month and nominate a popular, progressive man like Mr. Beecher for President, and the next 4th of March he will be inaugurated President of the United States.

Brooklyn NY
April 17, 1872




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