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Washington Times
Washington Times
Contributed by barbara-dave

Description: Republican Politics Page 9

Date: June 23 1907

Newspaper published in: Washington, D. C., USA

Washington Times June 23, 1907 Republican Politics Page 9

Pioneer Newspaper Men, Selby and Shaw, Are Last Anti-Nebraskan Editors

Joined in Issuing Call for First Republican State Convention of Illinois, Marking Partys Birth.

Bloomington, Ill., June 22 - Two of the most interesting of the pioneer newspaper men of Illinois are Paul SELBY, of Chicago, and Benjamin E. SHAW, of Dixon, the last survivors of that famous assemblage of anti-Nebraskan editors who met in Decatur on February 22, 1856, and issued the call for the first Republican State Convention of Illinois, and which gathering really marked the birth of that party.
Year by year the list of those present has been shortened by death, until today but the two named are living. In 1856 Mr. SELBY was editor of the Jacksonville Journal, while Mr. SHAW was the editor of the Dixon Telegraph, both papers being in existence to this day, although Mr. SELBY remained but a few years with the former. Mr. SHAW is still connected with the Dixon Telegraph.
One of the most important factors in the birth of the Republican party was the anti-Nebraskan press. It is interesting to recall, after the lapse of a half-century the part the editors bore in the launching of the new organization.

Climax of Conditions.

The climax of conditions tending to promote agitation of the slavery question, was reached in the approval by the President, on May 30, 1854, of the Kansas-Nebraska bill repealing the Missouri compromise and thereby removing the restriction against the introduction of slavery into territory north of the parallel of 36 degrees and 30 minutes. The condition of political affairs existing throughout the nation between 1854 and 1856 was one of political chaos. It was a period of unrest and commotion that the country had not seen since the adoption of the Constitution, and was only surpassed by the agitation which attended the outbreak of the civil war, seven years later.
Parties were disintegrating, and their mutually repellant elements were seeking new associations. Anti-slavery Democrats and anti-slavery Whigs were found in sympathy and alliance with each other, while the pro-slavery factions of both parties were drifting in a similar manner toward a common center.

Demand for New Party.

There was aroused a widespread and almost universal demand throughout the nation for the organization of a new party based upon resistance to the further extension of slavery, a chief incentive being found in the wrongs and outrages perpetrated in the effort to plant that institution in Kansas, following immediately upon the Congressional legislation of 1854.
In December, 1855, Mr. SELBY wrote an editorial for the Jacksonville Journal, suggesting a convention of anti-Nebraskan editors for the purpose of agreeing upon a line of policy to be pursued in the campaign of the year just then opening. The Chicago Tribune indorsed the suggestion, and agreed to be represented.
The Tribune said: The proposition meets our cordial approbation, and we hope that a ready response will be heard from every section of the great Prairie State on the part of the editorial corps not bound to swear in the words of Douglas and slavery.
The Tribune was represented by Dr. Charles H. RAY, and the Chicago Staats-Zeitung by George SCHNEIDER, who died recently. When the gathering was called to order on the morning of February 22, 1856, Paul SELBY was chosen chairman, and W. J. USREY, of the Decatur Chronicle, was chosen secretary.

Lincoln Was Present.

Abraham LINCOLN came over from Springfield, and spent the day in conference with the various editors, and especially the committee on resolutions. There is every reason to believe that the platform as reported by the committee on resolutions bears the stamp of LINCOLNs peculiar intellect. The resolutions emphatically protested against the introduction of slavery into territory already free or its further extension, demanded the restoration of the Missouri Compromise, and concluded with a demand for reformation in the administration of the State government as second only to the slavery extension itself. The platform amounted to a declaration of the most conservative Republicanism, and the foresight of its authors was indicated by the reiteration of every feature in subsequent years in the utterances of the State and National conventions of the Republican party.
After adopting the platform, the convention passed a resolution recommending a State delegate convention to be held on May 29, 1856, in this city, and that the ratio be fixed for representation by the State central committee.

Banquet Served to Editors.

After the adoption of other business of lesser importance, a banquet was served to the editors. Richard J. OGLESBY, then a young lawyer, afterward governor, presided, and delivered the welcoming address. The principal speech, however, was delivered by Abraham LINCOLN, in response to a suggestion by one of the editors that he become a candidate for governor. Mr. LINCOLN, in reply, illustrated his characteristic unselfishness and sagacity by advocating the nomination of an anti-Nebraskan Democrat, on the ground that such a nomination would be more available than that of an old line Whig like himself, finally naming William H. BISSELL for the place, a suggestion that was carried into effect at the convention held here in May, 1856, with the result in November that he had predicted. The call for the Bloomington convention provided for a total representation of 226 delegates, but so intense was the interest that many more assembled. That convention was one of the most momentous of the century. Through the agency of LINCOLN, YATES, LOVEJOY, and other great Illinoisans who participated, it changed the destiny of the republic, and made it home of the freemen, instead of half slaves and half free. It was a vindication of the principles enunciated and the policy indorsed in that little convention of editors a few months previously.


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