Bidwell on the 1860 Democratic Convention

In 1891, John Bidwell dictated a memoir in which, among many other things, he recalled his career in politics. Here is what he had to say about his role at the 1860 National Democratic Convention:

When I was sent as a delegate to the Charleston convention in ’60 . . . and saw that the south meant disunion, I could not agree with them. I differed with all the other delegates from California and Oregon, Senator Gwin was one of them, and Senator M.S. Latham was another, and while he was from Ohio, he was under the influence of the southern democracy. . . . I returned to Washington, and the convention made no nomination.

Afterward one wing held its convention and nominated Breckenridge, and the other wing nominated Douglas. Of course, I was with Douglas. After I got back to Washington, on my way home to California, Stephen A. Douglas, before he was nominated for president, sent for me. He wanted to see the man that had dared to differ with Gwin and the rest of them from California. They called me the black sheep and everything else, but that did not hurt me.

When I got home to California, Gwin and Frank Washington called upon me. The latter was the finest political writer on the coast. He was the leader of the southern democracy here. They stayed with me and talked almost until midnight, to try and induce me to vote for Breckenridge. I treated them very politely, took them in my carriage to the county seat, and bid them goodbye. I never could be persuaded to yield to the disunion element that was growing up at the time.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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