The Great North-Western Conspiracy In All Its Startling Details
I. Windslow Ayer

Part 1 out of 3

Produced by Lee Dawei, Andy Schmitt
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team


_The Plot to plunder and burn Chicago--Release of all Rebel
prisoners--Seizure of arsenals--Raids from Canada--Plot to burn New
York--Piracy on the Lakes--Parts for the Sons of Liberty--Trial of Chicago
conspirators--Inside views of the Temples of the Sons of Liberty--Names of
prominent members._



[Illustration: I. WINSLOW AYER, M.D.]


The trial before the Military Commission in Cincinnati, just concluded,
was in many respects one of the most remarkable events of the war. The
investigation has elicited testimony of the most startling character,
showing conclusively to the minds of all reasonable men who have given to
it careful, earnest attention that there was a most formidable, deep and
well arranged conspiracy, which, but for timely discovery and judicious
action, would have resulted most disastrously, not only to the particular
cities and towns specified and doomed to destruction, but to the whole
country. None can contemplate the danger through which we have passed
without a shudder and without a recognition of the hand of a merciful
Providence who has guided our beloved country in its darkest hours and who
has crowned our struggles for liberty and union with glorious victory.

To have proclaimed to the public, even a few short months ago, that a
scheme had been concocted in Richmond, of so vast and formidable a
character, so insidious in its operations, so complete in its details that
it had found favor and support in all the great cities and towns in
Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Iowa, and sections of other
States that scarcely a village was exempt from its corruption, that it
numbered in its ranks more traitors in the aggregate than the number of
brave men in the combined armies of the gallant Grant and Sherman, and
that all who had thus united recognised but one common cause--the
destruction of our country, the defeat and humiliation of our people, and
the triumph of the Rebellion--the author of such a proclamation would have
been written down a madman or a fool, by most persons in the community;
and yet the developments before the military tribunal have established the
fact, to the eternal infamy of all who were leagued in the conspiracy.

As the trial opened, and the charges if the indictment were made public,
all sympathisers with the conspiracy affected to disbelieve its existence,
and raised their eyes and hands to Heaven, in pious horror, and prayed
that _justice_ might be meted out to the accused, who were, they claimed,
the best of citizens, the most devout Christians, the most zealous
patriots, the most earnest advocates of law and order, and that their
accusers might be shunned of all good men forever. To this prayer the
accused will scarce utter the response, Amen! Even some good, careful,
honest Union men, astonished at the startling revelations, refused, for a
time, to believe that there was any truth in the allegations against the
prisoners; by degrees, however, as corroborative evidence accumulated, the
truth was forced upon their minds, and there are now few persons of
ordinary intelligence and candor, who have not been able to discover that
"there was something in it, after all," and that we have been
Providentially saved a most terrible disaster.

But the investigation has been lengthy, and the reports in the newspapers
have been brief and irregular, and few, comparatively, there are who have
heard or read all of even the more important testimony, or appreciate
fully the vast magnitude of the conspiracy; and there are many who having
read only the indictment, have conceived the idea that if the charges
therein alleged are true, the crime was confined to a few desperate and
wicked men in Chicago alone, and that, therefore, it possessed but a local
interest. Such a conclusion is wholly groundless. The history of this
conspiracy is of the most vital interest for the people of every State in
the Union, for had the conspirators not been foiled at a most opportune
moment, their plans would have been successful in every particular, and
once in operation they could not have been frustrated by any force we
could have arrayed against them; and who shall say that had the savage
hordes of Jeff. Davis then been turned loose upon an unarmed community, to
carry desolation and ruin as they should sweep over our fair States, that
to-day the Southern rebels would be, as they now are, in their last
extremity--that victory would now be perched upon our banners wherever our
noble pioneers of freedom advance, and that our brave boys of the Potomac
would now be reposing from, their labors in the halls of the rebel
capitol! Those who, upon investigation, fail to recognise the magnitude,
the sagacity, the completeness of this Northwestern Conspiracy, and
realise its immense importance to the rebel chieftains at the South,
corroborated as the evidence before the Commission has been by incidents
of almost daily occurrence for many months, have not learned to read
correctly the history of the Great Southern Rebellion. If an idea ever
entered the heads of malcontents at the North to establish a Northwestern
Confederacy, it was speedily chased away by the more promising schemes of
the arch traitor late of Richmond. It is to collect facts already
elicited, and to give further information, and with a hope of aiding the
cause of the Union so sacred and dear to us all, that the writer has
yielded to the oft-repeated requests of his friends to present a connected
and concise history of the Northwestern Conspiracy.




The signal potency of secret organizations at the South prior to the
secession of States, and indeed the only really effective machinery by
which an attempt at disunion by the people could have been made to appear
possible, early in the great struggle engaged the earnest attention of the
Southern leaders. Knowing as they did that had the question of secession
been primarily an open one, for free discussion, that the masses of the
people would have rejected the proposition with deserved scorn and
indignation, and hung the ambitious adventurers who dared propose the
sacrilege. They realized the importance of establishing the order in the
North. The leaders saw with delight the working of secret organizations,
where men were sworn to secrecy, and drawn onward step by step, till they
reached the very brink of the fearful precipice. Thus did the people
fasten upon themselves and each other the shackles of slavery, which they
have since so unwillingly worn. The doctrine of State sovereignty
proclaimed by John C. Calhoun, and which, together with its apostles,
Jackson well knew how to receive, had been instilled into the minds of the
people of the States, which since their admission into the Union had been
at war with destiny, and in the hope of securing perpetuity of their
peculiar institutions, they attempted the dissolution of the Union. Truly
gratifying it must have been to the extremists in those States to have
watched the gathering clouds, and to listen to the low murmuring thunder
which presaged the coming storm, and well they knew how fearful would be
its fury, but blinded to the inevitable result, they were confident of
ultimate success, when they should have so far disseminated the Calhoun
poison at the North, as to have made oath-bound slaves in such numbers as
would paralyze the efforts of Union men, and render it necessary to recall
our armies from the field to suppress insurrection at home, and to change
the theatre of the war to Northern soil. None knew the importance of
introducing the machinery of secret political organizations better than
Davis himself, for he had not forgotten the Charleston Convention, the
working of the secret orders then, and subsequent events had of course
confirmed him in the opinion that a divided North would not be a
formidable adversary, and that he was warranted in the firm belief that
his wish to be "let alone" would be realised. With these views, shrewd and
sagacious men established themselves early in Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana,
Illinois and other States, and put the machinery in motion. The order
sprung up in various sections of the country, and treason flourished well,
as poisonous plants often show the greatest vitality. This plan was a
success. Men high in rank and station--men from every profession and walk
in life, embraced the principles of the order, and soon it could boast of
legislators, judges of the higher courts, clergymen, doctors, lawyers,
merchants and men from every avocation. Judge Bullitt, from the Supreme
bench in Kentucky, Judge Morris of the Circuit Court of Illinois, Judd and
Robinson, lawyers and candidates for the highest State offices, Col.
Walker, agent of the State of Indiana, editors of the daily press, and men
high in official station, and in the confidence of the people,
ex-Governors of States and disaffected politicians, all seized upon this
new element of power and with various motives, the chief of which was self
agrandisement at any cost, even at the cost of our National existence--
entered with zeal upon the work of disseminating the doctrines, and
extending the organization throughout the North and West.

The leaders gratified by success, courted the support of the organizations
they fostered till the candidates for the highest offices in the State and
Nation felt certain of obtaining election, were they but in favor with the
secret orders they aided in establishing. While the leaders were men of
cunning, many of them of intellect and education, the rank and file was
made up of different material. It not being necessary by the tenets of the
order that they should _think_ at all, brains were at a discount--muscle
only was required--beings who would fall into line at the word of command
and follow on to an undertaking, however desperate and criminal, without
asking or thinking, or caring for the purpose to be attained; beings who
could be put in harness and led or driven wherever and whenever it might
suit their masters. Men from the lowest walks of life were preferred. In
the lower strata of the order, social distinction was waived by the
leaders, and the lowest wretch in the order was placed on a level with
judges, merchants and politicians, at least within the hall of meeting,
thus offering inducements potent enough to make the lodge room a place of
interest and pleasure, and thus the organization thrived.

It became known of course that secret organizations of a most dangerous
class were in existence, and their fruits were easily recognized. Our
brave boys in the army were often importuned by letters, to desert their
posts and to betray their flag. Union men were subject to annoyances that
became unendurable, soldiers wives and families were grossly insulted,
soldiers visiting their homes upon furloughs were often assaulted or
murdered, quarrels upon petty pretexts were incited, neighbors arrayed
against each other, dwellings burned by incendiaries, unoffending union
men murdered, military secrets of greatest importance betrayed, libels of
the most gross and malicious character by such papers as the Chicago
Times, and by such men as Wilbur F. Story, its editor, till at length a
voice came to us from the army in the field, which was often echoed,
begging Union citizens at home, by their love of the Union, by the love
they bore their own families, to protect the absent soldiers' wives,
mothers, sisters and firesides from the Copperheads who remained at home;
they would meet the enemy at the front, they would march fearlessly to the
cannon's belching throat, and meet death or mutilation upon the field of
battle for their Country's cause; not for themselves did they know fear or
care for danger, but when the tidings came to them from home, when after
toilsome marches, hunger and fatigue, or suffering from wounds received in
desperate engagements, when resting a brief hour, and their eyes fell upon
missives from home, from wives who bade them go and fight for freedom, and
return not with shame upon their brows, when tender thoughts of home, of
children and every "loved spot" that they had left behind, came crowding
to their minds, who shall say that they were wanting in heroism if their
faces became pale, their lips trembled and the tears dimmed their eyes, as
they read of wrongs and insults endured from Copperheads at home, or of
plots and acts by cowardly traitors to aid the common enemy; and when
their entreaty comes to us to strike down the deadly foe at home and give
protection to the helpless, let him blush with shame to call himself a
man, let him never claim to be an American citizen, never claim protection
of our Country's flag, let him close his ears to the sound of rejoicing
for final and complete victory, let him only hold companionship with
cowards and with culprits, and hide himself from the light of day who will
turn a deaf ear to the soldiers' prayer. Copperheads who have withheld
their sympathy and their efforts for our country in its days of darkness
and of peril, should and will be known of men in all future time; their
lives will be blighted, their names will be a reproach and a by-word,
their children will blush for their parents, and the name of Benedict
Arnold will no longer be the synonym of treason and betrayal--his name
will be rescued from the infamy each passing year of the existence of our
country has heaped upon it, and the Copperheads of the present day will
receive the anathemas of all coming generations, till their very names
shall be a curse too horrid for mortals to apply, and thenceforth be only
echoed in the lowest depths of hell.

By Providential discovery of the existence of the Order of Sons of Liberty
in Chicago, and the utmost vigilance, prudence, perseverance, patience,
promptness and daring, the aims, designs and acts of this Order, of the
American Knights and kindred organizations have been brought to light, its
every evil purpose and plan laid before the Government, and the pet
institution of Jeff. Davis has been turned inside out, so that "he who
runs may read;" the curtain has been raised and the light of noonday has
been let in, discovering to the public the horrid creation of traitors in
our very midst--people who breathe the very air we do, who enjoy the same
blessings and privileges, aye, and perhaps sit at the same tables. The
friends and sympathizers of these traitors have sought to cast obloquy and
distrust upon the statements of those who have successfully broken up the
great conspiracy, and perjury has sought to blacken their reputations, but
in vain. _Truth will prevail_.

The list of names of the members of the Sons of Liberty have been obtained
and preserved, and will be valuable for reference hereafter.

As the reader passes down South Clark street, at the corner of Monroe, he
will notice upon the right a large building of peculiar structure, and,
now bearing the name "Invincible Club Hall." It was here the temples of
the Sons of Liberty, or, as they were then called, the "American Knights,"
held their secret sessions, going stealthily up the stairs singly or in
groups of two or three, to avoid observation, and when once inside the
hall they were guarded by an outside sentinel, whose duty it was to
apprise them of danger and to guard against its approach to the "temple";
but let not the fault-finding Sons blame their Tyler now for any neglect
of duty; once under the ban of suspicion he has proved himself as staunch
a rebel and traitor as Jeff. Davis himself, and is entitled to all the
consideration of a "devilish good fellow." But within a year, more or
less, the "temple" of the _Illini_, as it was called, removed from Clark
street to the large building upon the corner of Randolph and Dearborn
streets, known as "McCormick's Block." Every Thursday evening prior to the
eighth of November 1864, the windows of the hall in the fifth story gave
evidence that the hall was occupied, but further than this evidence was
not for the observer, however curious he might be, unless, perchance, he
was a member of "the Order." Clambering up the long nights of stairs that
lead to the hall, on a Thursday evening, the party in quest of discovery
would be not a little surprised at the class of men he would notice upon
the march upward; he would involuntarily button up his pockets and keep as
far distant from his fellow travelers as possible, for a more God-forsaken
looking class of vagabonds never before entered a respectable building,
and it is a matter of some doubt whether so many graceless scoundrels were
ever before convened in one building in Chicago, not excepting the Armory
when the police have been unusually active and vigilant. Occasionally a
fine looking man would brush hastily by you, as if afraid to be discovered
and recognised--not in the least conscience-stricken, perhaps, for his
purposes and intentions. Should the gas-light show to you the comely
features of the Grand Senior Obadiah Jackson, Jr. Esq., on his pilgrimage
upward, you would scarcely be willing to believe that he was the presiding
genius of the room in the upper regions, and bound to dispense light and
wisdom to the motley crowd who would so soon be filling the hall with
fumes of cheap tobacco and the poorest quality of whiskey, mingled with
the fragrance of onions, borne by gentle zephyrs from yonder open
vestibule. Yonder comes L.A. Doolittle, Esq., a lawyer of some distinction
and a justice of the peace; he wears a look of wisdom, and you can read
upon his face that he is certain that the "despot Lincoln," and "Lincoln's
hirelings," and "Lincoln's bastiles" are all going under together beneath
the wheels of the triumphal car drawn by the opposition party, with
Vallandigham as the leader. But we will not try to find any great number
of fine looking men in very close proximity to the hall. Arriving on the
fifth floor, and proceeding to a door upon which you find the sign of the
"American Protestant Association," your friends casting furtive glances
around and behind them, disappear by the door and are lost to view; one by
one, like stars upon the approach of dawn, our constellation vanishes. You
open the door, but your curiosity is not repaid; the seedy friends who
preceded you but an instant are lost to sight--presto! the room is as
vacant as a last year's robin's nest, and observation detects a hole of
six inches in diameter in a door in one side of the room; you try the
door, but it is fast, and you may leave if you wish, but the idea of a
Copperhead crawling through a hole six inches in diameter will haunt your
dreams that night.



The event of the American revolution burst upon the world as the most
startling era in the history of nations. Monarchical Europe had long
envied the proud career and inevitable destiny of these States, which had
been shaken as the brightest jewels from the British Crown. Monarchs,
Emperors, Queens, lords, princes and diplomats, who wield the sceptre of
dominion, could not conceal the joy afforded them by a scene, which
executed, promised the speedy extinguishment of the leading national power
on the globe, and the final demolition of the only altar of liberty upon
which the fires of freedom had continued bright.

The event created the more joy, because it was attributable partly to the
efforts so strenuously put forth for many preceding years by the combined
enemies of American Independence, to poison the American mind and breed
disunion in the ranks of a free, industrious and honest yeomanry, with a
view to the ultimate dissolution of the bonds of the Union.

These enemies, however, for some time anterior to the development of the
fruit of their labors, had begun to despair of the cause in which they had
engaged, and it is possible that the scheme of American wreck and ruin
upon their part had been permanently abandoned, hence their immediate
demonstrations of joy at the triumph of their cause of sedition.

But seeds sown, however barren the soil, seldom fail of some growth, and
subsequent to the presidential election of 1860, the great American
rebellion became transparent to both friend and foe. To enumerate and
examine in detail the different phases of the programme of artificial
causes which precipitated defiance of the General Government, and gave
origin to the chronic disorder of the people of different sections upon
the subject of their government, would occupy more space than has been
allotted this brief narrative, which is more especially intended to
embrace a readable compilation of the later movements of the enemies of
the Government to crown the Confederate cause with success, through the
bloody implement of Conspiracy and Revolution in the Northern States.

Having alluded to the prominent part occupied by foreign hostile powers in
the general scheme of Conspiracy against the Federal Government, a brief
allusion to the part executed by the native born American will not be out
of place.

The cheek tingles with the blush of shame, when alas, it _must_ be said
that the pride of the American has been humbled by his too faithful
adherence to the grand original compact of treason, even after the second
most potent auxiliary to the plan had been tenderly touched with the
wickedness of the scheme, and had withdrawn in dismay at the approach of
the enactment of crime so revolting.

All things material and tangible have their bases and starting points, so
too, had the Southern Rebellion its foundation stone laid deep and solid
in the minds of the people by John C. Calhoun, the first great Supreme
Commander of the germ from whence sprung the various elements of treason,
which have entered into the composition of the powers seeking the
destruction of the Federal Government. As for the doctrine of State Rights
as expounded by Calhoun, it is carried beyond the Virginia and Kentucky
resolutions of '98, to that point which renders it destructive of the end
for which it is claimed to be enunciated.

It has been sought to carry the doctrine to that extremity beyond the
exercise of its own reserved powers, which must inevitably bring it in
collision with the legitimate operation of the powers delegated to the
General Government.

With this extreme, hence fallacious, doctrine of State Rights thus firmly
imbedded in the hearts and heads of a zealous people, rendering them, upon
conscientious principles, the ready tools of ambitious leaders, filled
with lust for power and place, it should not be a matter of so much
surprise, that, after years of uninterrupted and persistent education and
training of the generations in their order, that the year of 1860 found
the continent trembling beneath the crack of musketry, the tread of horse,
and the roar of cannon.

As among the more important means used by designing men in aid of the
scheme of rebellion, and the ultimate establishment of a separate
government in the South, the nucleus of which was to be the cotton states,
secret organizations, assuming different names and traditions in different
localities in the South were established, having for their special mission
in the meantime the privacy of the plot, and the education of the people
to that indispensable standard of treason which would eventually lead them
to avow their principles at the point of the sword.

These organizations, in point of antiquity, are traced to a time not long
anterior to the nullification of South Carolina in 1832, which was so
promptly suppressed by General Jackson, then President of the United
States. Some of them, however, claim even greater antiquity, and point
with affected pride to the historical period of the American colonial
revolution against the taxation and tyranny of England, as the date of
their origin. Whatever may be the facts as to the precise date of the
existence, respectively, of these disreputable cables, laid to undermine
the greatness and glory of the National Union, cemented as it is by the
blood of the sires and sages of the Revolution, is unimportant to the
purpose of the author, while the great living fact that they have been the
most deadly weapon in the hands of the enemy is corroborated by the
eventful history of the union of these States.

Prior to the breaking out of the rebellion in 1861, these various
organizations, being the van-guards in the general conspiracy against the
integrity and perpetuity of the Federal Government, had not been
introduced, to any great extent, in the non-slaveholding states, and in
consequence thereof had little or no tangibility north of the compromise
of 1820, familiarly known as Mason and Dixon's line. South of this line,
however, they had long been standing institutions in every city, town,
hamlet, villa and populated district throughout all of the late so-called
Confederate States of America; vying the Palmetto in rankness of growth,
and rivaling the rattlesnake in deadness of poison, until at length,
gorged with their own baneful offspring, and pale with the sickness of
their own stomachs, the child of secession was born unto them as a curse
and reproach to the Southern people and the generations to follow them

On the 17th of April, 1861, the report of the gun fired upon Fort Sumter
was heard by every member of these secret conclaves in the South, and was
the signal for the opening of the outer gates of every temple of treason
in the land.

From that inauspicious moment forward to the present, no mask has hid from
the scorn of the Christian world treason's hideous visage, but that
blear-eyed monster, armed with every weapon of iniquity which devilish
invention could devise, has alternately, with rage and despair, rushed to
and fro across the continent, spilling the blood of innocence.

When, upon the occurrence of the Presidential election in 1860, it was
found that the kernel planted by Calhoun had been fostered to maturity by
secret organization, the blood and treasure of seven states was at once
staked upon the fearful result, and the disruption of the Republic and the
erection of a slave-driving despotism upon the ruins solemnly declared. In
the outset, it was thought by leading political minds at the North, that
but little sincerity could be attached to the assertion of independence by
the Southern people. But as time elapsed and the contest grew more
formidable and bloody, Northern men began by degrees to comprehend the
magnitude of a chronic conspiracy which had cost the life-long labors of
its ablest advocates to prepare. And though the hosts enlisted in the
execution of this conspiracy for a time won the prestige of victors upon
fields of blood, knowledge of their sincerity of purpose and the extent of
their carefully collected resources at length came to every loyal man in
the country, and vigorous measures, corresponding to the necessity, were
at once devised, the effects of which are now seen in the capture of
Richmond and the surrender of Lee.

Earlier than this date in the progress of the struggle, however, it became
manifest that the wheel of fortune would eventually turn against the cause
of the South in consequence of her comparative weakness to contend against
a power so amply provided with the material of war as the government at
Washington. Then it was that the project of enlarging the area of the
rebellion, first fell upon the Southern mind as indispensable to their
cause, now fast becoming desperate in the extreme. Hurried raids into
border northern states gave to the prowess of southern arms but momentary
_eclat_, and little or no enduring strength was added to the stability of
the Richmond government, beyond the plunder obtained in the line of march.
On the contrary, these raids, instead of being evidence of the power of
the South to maintain the standard of independence, were looked upon by
the military chieftains of the North, without apprehension further than
the demoralization, consequent upon the particular neighborhoods and
districts thus invaded. In fact each recurring raid gave additional
grounds for the confident belief on the part of the North, that the
downfall of the rebellion was but a question of time, much sooner to be
solved than many people of both sections supposed. These symptoms of the
distress of the cause meantime did not escape the sagacity of the leaders
of the rebellion, and as an expedient remedy, the plan of secretly
organizing traitors in the northern states was determined upon as early as
1862, by the political representatives and agents of the confederate
states, the attempt, character and success of which project will be the
subject of the next chapter.



As above intimated, early in 1862 the Richmond Government foresaw the
necessity of bringing to its aid the hitherto comparatively dormant
resources of treason in the Northern States, and the enlargement of the
arena of the Rebellion. Raids having ominously failed in their design to
arouse the lethargic spirits of Northern sympathizers and advocates, to
rush to the standard of the misguided South, it was immediately determined
to prolong the war, at least, to the date of the next Presidential
election, and then through the agencies of secret organization and
equipment, seize upon the excitement of the people in a hotly contested
election, to force a rebellion against the administration elect in the
North, as had been done in the South in 1860.

The executive part of this object was at once given into the hands of such
trustworthy men, both North and South, as were deemed suitable to the
enterprise, and the work of secret political organization was vigorously
begun in Northern Missouri and Kentucky, from thence it gradually spread,
until it was firmly rooted in the political tenets of the minority party
in the States of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and portions of
other adjoining States.

Much dissimilarity existed in the operative structure and formation of the
various organizations, from time to time thus instituted. To give the
public a full and complete description of these organizations, would be
foreign to the writer's time, space and purpose, but in order that some
record of their character may be made, a general description of each in
its order in point of time, with a reference to the features in which
radical dissimilarities appear, would seem indispensible to the poor
perfection sought to be obtained by the author of these sketches.

Upon the discovery by Southern leaders that their cause must fail unless
"fire in the rear" was at once instigated in the North, the Order of the
Knights of the Golden Circle, an old Southern institution, was infused
with life, and began its pilgrimage Northward, one additional creed having
been ingrafted upon it.

It will be remembered that this Order was originally composed of the
wealthiest planters, merchants and professional men of the South, and had
for its sole object the inculcation of treason against the United States.
It was simply an institution to educate the Southern mind to the required
standard of rebellion. But when the Order was introduced into the North,
it was found feasible to give it a double capacity, first that of an
educational capacity, and second that of an incendiary capacity, which
comprised the destruction of government property, and the houses and
property of leading loyal citizens of the North, known to be strong
advocates of the suppression of the rebellion. But this organization in
name and cardinal purpose was short-lived, its career having subserved but
a meagre benefit to the South, in a practical point of view. The damage it
did was principally confined to the burning of United States transports on
the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the moulding of the crude opinions of
its members, which served as a solid foundation for the establishment of
the Order of American Knights, which immediately succeeded its

Like all institutions of iniquity, the sun of the Order of Knights of the
Golden Circle went down in blood, but was the signal for the advent of an
Order better calculated to meet the ends of its design.

It had been seen upon experiment that the Golden Circle had been
successful beyond the most sanguine expectations of its instigators, and
as the necessity of Northern revolution to insure the certain success of
the Confederacy daily became more apparent to the rebels, both North and
South, the Order of the American Knights was inaugurated--the executioner
of that fell purpose. Its sun arose to its meridian with the suddenness of
a meteor, doomed to flash across the canopy and burst in scattering atoms.

The Order of American Knights was erected upon the dissolved fragments of
the Order of the Knights of the Golden Circle, which Order, in name, was
abandoned for the additional reason that the suspicions of the Government
had begun to be aroused as to the character of its movements. At the time
of the extinction of the Golden Circle, its members were at once inducted
into the Order of American Knights, so that this Order obtained much
primary advantage, in point of numerical strength, over its predecessor,
for the Golden Circle had already insidiously crept into the very hearts
of several Northern cities and states. The American Knights being composed
in the outset wholly of men who from experience had discovered whatever
defectiveness may have been chargeable upon the Golden Circle, it was
sought in the new Order to remedy the evils of the old Order.

With this in view, looking over the former and later phases of the Golden
Circle as it had existed in the North and South, respectively, it was
agreed to give the new Order still another capacity, and what was called
the military branch or department was added, the incendiary capacity of
the old Order being merged into this new military department.

We have seen that there had been in the North an Order mainly of
educational capacity, contemplating revolution so soon as the public mind
could be put in readiness for such an event, but now for the first time we
find an Order prepared in its organic structure, to speedily collect
together the elements of revolution and set them in motion. Such a concern
was the Order of American Knights. True, the rise of the Order created a
momentary excitement in political circles, as yet unaccustomed to dealing
with the stern problems of Northern revolution by resort to arms. But, by
the admirable adjustment of the administrative powers of the Order, into
degrees, sub-degrees and departments of degrees and sub-degrees, the
leaders were enabled to give to each adventurer in quest of the hidden
mysteries of the so-called impartial maxims of genuine Democracy--that
Democracy which _boasts of having permeated through every fibre and artery
of our political, commercial and social systems_, a comfortable and genial
sphere in which he was left to operate upon his good behavior.

Upon this ingenious plan the vast body and mass of the Order simply held
the relation of probationary membership, until they were rendered
competent through the educational capacity of the society, to advance into
full fellowship with its diabolical design. A glance at this organization
will suffice to show the shrewdness of the transient and local agents of
the Confederacy, in their formation of an Order, having for its mission
the attainment of so many incidental objects, without in the meantime
subjecting themselves to the dangers of collision in their machinery.
Accordingly, the Order was composed of three general degrees, viz.: First,
the Temple Degree, second, the Grand Council Degree, and third, the
Supreme Council Degree.

The first or Temple Degree, resembled the county organization of a State,
and held the same relation to the second or Grand Council Degree (which
was the state organization of the Order,) that our county government holds
to our State government, and it was always sought to establish this first
or Temple Degree at each county seat in a State, as expeditiously as
possible, that the second or Grand Council Degree could the sooner be
fully represented, and begin its State management of the Order. In other
chapters the writer has made a passing, though sufficient allusion to the
internal workings of these Temples, and doubtless the initiated reader, in
different sections, will recognize the facts we have already and are
further about to state, notwithstanding the "_obligation_" the author is
supposed to have subscribed to, not to reveal the existence of the Order
and its secrets, under _penalty of "suffering a shameful death."_

The process usually followed in instituting the Temple Degree, was to send
missionaries with authority, into the districts proposed to be organized,
who called together such of the "unterrified" leaders as were known to be
"_sound_ on Jeff. Davis' goose," before whom the design and object of the
Order was confidentially laid for their approval or rejection, by a
majority vote. It is important to recollect that the record does not
afford an instance where a majority of those assembled for this purpose,
rejected the Order as inconsistent with their political views. On the
contrary, it was everywhere received by the politicians, both great and
small, as "_just the thing they had been looking for_." These politicians
were then left to "manage their own local affairs" concerning the Order,
"subject only to the constitution" of _Jeff. Davis_. Generally, several
meetings and some discussion enabled these empyrics to determine plans of
strategy to screen themselves, by "_covering the tracks in the sand_," a
remark frequently heard from members.


"All whom we arrested wore the same general wolfish aspect."--From the
testimony of Brig. Gen. B.J. Sweet.]

The plan in most cases adopted, was to familiarize a sufficient number of
the _elect_, with a grossly immoral and treasonable pamphlet, called the
"Ritual of the Order," to enable them to officer the Temple, and "induct"
any number of "candidates" _supposed_ to be "in waiting in the ante-room,
into the sublime," but in fact dark and dubious "mysteries of the Order."

After one or more squads of these "candidates in" anxious and breathless
"waiting" had been inducted, (meanwhile staring like stuck pigs at every
object and officer which met their eyes,) in addition to the regular
officers of the Temple already installed, it was considered that enough
official and canvassing material had been acquired, and the more prominent
politicians, not officers of the Temple, deemed it prudent to absent
themselves from most of the weekly meetings. Again, it was an illusion of
these leaders, to put forward the most irresponsible persons at their
command, as the mouth-pieces and official representatives of the Order, to
the end that if detected, the theory of _crazy, powerless fools_, could be
wielded upon public sentiment by an undisturbed partisan press, to save
the scheme from thorough investigation and development by the authorities.

In evidence of the fact of these illusions, L.A. Doolittle lectures the
Temple in Chicago on the "purposes and plans of the Order," (but who by
the way, was not so "insane on the subject" as the men who put him forward
have sought to show him to be,) and prominent politicians, not before
known to be members of the fraternity, appear prior to semi-annual
elections as candidates for representatives in the Grand Council.

It was duly announced, also, that an extra session of the Supreme Council
had been convened in the city of New York, charged with the special
business of revising the ritual, changing the signs, passwords, grips, and
giving to the Order a new name. Pursuant to announcement, Charles W.
Patten made his appearance in the Temple with the rituals and
paraphernalia of the new Order of the Sons of Liberty--the result of the
proceedings of the late Supreme Council.

This obscure individual, with fame limited to the dusty walls of the
Invincible Club Rooms and the traitor's dungeon at Camp Douglas, upon his
appearance in the Temple, assigned two chief reasons for the recent action
of the Supreme Council. First and most important was, the obvious
inadequacy of the Order of American Knights to subserve the purpose for
which it was instituted, in consequence of the subordination of the
military to the civil department. And, second, the disclosure in St. Louis
had rendered the Order liable to intrusion by spies, an embarrassment to
be avoided only by alteration of signs, grips, passwords, and name. We
were then informed that we were Sons of Liberty (a sensible man would have
said sons of the devil, if he had dared to have spoken the truth), and
earnestly exhorted to exercise the utmost caution in adhering to the new
rules and instructions of the Supreme Council. It is not a little amusing
to witness the homeopathic doses of modern democracy, carefully
administered to the rank and file of the northern people through the
medium of these Orders.

In the first place, the Golden Circle edifies the "stranger advancing in
dark, devious ways" with lessons upon the doctrine of state sovereignty,
and admonishes him to "follow the straight and narrow path which is paved
with gems and pearls, and bordered with perennial flowers whose perfumes
all his senses will entrance," all of which is received by the sincere
candidate with every mark of approval. We next find the American Knights
embracing its members in the bedazzling folds of military lace to be used
when in arms against the Government. A splendid spectacle of the doctrines
of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Douglas! And to cap the miserable
climax, men boasting of the Democracy of their fathers in a line of lineal
descent for generations back, are required to subscribe to the doctrine of
the subordination of the civil to the military authority by the tenets of
the Sons of Liberty.

This astonishing feature of the Sons of Liberty, as contradistinguished
from the Orders which preceded it, at first met with murmurs of disfavor,
but the dissatisfaction was principally among men who ultimately acted the
_nobler part_, and as the tide of treason rolled up to sustain this
measure "for the good of the Order," all such were submerged and lost
sight of, except by the evil eye set upon them as spies.

Without offering his advice, the writer would respectfully ask the _true_
Democrat, who may yet, from the temptations of firmly-rooted prejudices,
incline to the belief that this organization was purely democratic in the
Andrew Jackson acceptation of that term, how the above statement of
principles comports with his notions of the doctrines of the party with
which he has hitherto seen fit to fellowship?

Is it not clearly to be seen that this Order meditated the establishment
of a government more despotic in its character than history furnishes any
example of? A government with three degrees or departments, each
oath-bound and a profound secret to the other, moving in their appointed
spheres, and the civil departments of which were secondary, in point of
power, to the military departments!

Let no man, of whatever political persuasion he may be, flatter himself
for a moment that such a government could be Republican in its nature.

Having now traced, with perhaps a tedious hand, the rise and fall of two
political Orders, ranking among the most powerful instruments of crime and
public wrong of their day, the writer bids their unmourned remains
farewell, to pass to the consideration in the succeeding chapter, of the
desperate career and final explosion of the Order of the Sons of
Liberty--a solemn warning to the American people forever.

To save the Goudys, Caulfields, Adams, Edwards, Duncans, Wickershams,
Cuttings, and Kimberlys, the Morrises, Walshes, Jacksons, Pattens, Gearys,
and Doolittles were put forward because they were eager for the fray, and
possessed the temerity to brave the danger of Union bullets.

We have now seen how the Temple or First Degree was instituted in counties;
how the various elements of treason were collected together and detailed
for their special service of educating the ignorant, manufacturing
materials and munitions of war, and devising plots to burn, plunder, and
pillage unsuspecting cities; how each member was singled out according to
his fitness for certain duties, which he performed without their character
coming even to his fellow members of the same degree; and how the brained
leaders of these institutions retired to the back ground to elude the
vigilance of the ministers of the law, and "adjust the wires" that were to
check to-day, and to-morrow precipitate the conspiracy.

The Grand Council, or Second Degree, was established in every State where
the Temple Degree had obtained any strength and character as to numbers.
This Degree resembled the State in its governmental organization, and bore
the same relation to the Supreme Council or Third Degree that the State
governments of the Federal Union bear to the government at Washington. The
Order having a military department, these Grand Councils, in council
assembled, adopted the militia and other statute laws of the particular
State, with such revisions, exceptions and additional laws as were deemed
essential to the successful operation of the Order.

Regular semi-annual meetings of the Grand Councils were held, convening
respectively on the 22d of August and the 22d of February--the latter, in
sacrilege be it said, being religiously observed as the birthday of

But extra sessions were almost monthly called during the year of 1864,
prior to the election, to take precautionary and other expedient action
upon the continually recurring changes of that eventful year. No
considerable battle was fought in the front, that was not the signal for
the assembling of this council, and no political event of any importance
transpired that did not receive the solemn deliberations of this already
_de facto_ legislative body. Of course no person ever became a member of
this Council who had not first been inducted into the Temple, and then by
his Temple elected as a representative in the Grand Council, the election
for which purpose was held semi-annually as above, and new representatives
took their seats at each regular session.

The Grand Council embraced in its sphere of labors such duties as
experience seemed to dictate, as being necessary to the fulfilment of the
mission of the Order. It provided remedies for unmistakable evils, and
watched with a zealous care and fostering hand, every interest of treason
within the boundaries of its jurisdiction.

The Supreme Council or Third and highest Degree of the Order in
organization, was built after the pattern of the Federal government at
Washington, and wielded a similar general control over the affairs of the
Order, that our National government exerts over the consequences growing
out of the union of the States under one central government. Here we see
how admirably the design to effect Northern rebellion was conceived. The
whole machinery of a government _de facto_, and in disguise though, it
was, with all its branches, both civil and military in active operation
for months and years within the very sound of the echoing steps of
senators in the halls of the Capitol, was indeed a source of the most
serious concern to the authorities, for the safety of the Republic. But
valorous daring, tempered with prudence, was destined to bring to the
light of day this infernal work of years, and accordingly the city of St.
Louis was the scene of the first public development of the Order of
American Knights, early in the spring of 1864, the principal facts of
which disclosure the public learned from the press at the time, hence the
writer will only allude in this connection to the effect created in
various Circles of the Order, by the attempt upon the part of the
Government to thwart the perpetration of the red-handed crimes
contemplated by the leaders. When it was officially announced by Reuben
Cassile, presiding Grand Seignior of the Chicago Temple, then recently
removed from the Invincible Club Hall to McCormick's Building, that
disclosures of the Order in St. Louis had occurred, every countenance was
stamped with dismay. The timely appearance at the Temple, however, of
Judge Morris and other leaders, served to interpose restraint upon any
serious apprehensions of difficulty resulting to the Order.



A new era in the history of secret political orders was opened by the Sons
of Liberty.

As the Presidential election of 1864 approached, the party in the minority
began to appreciate the awkwardness of its attitude upon the political
issues of the day, and appeared determined in its conclusion to obtain the
ascendency in the coming administration, by means of fraud and force.

The great mass of the party had now become conversant and familiar with
every species of political crime, through secret organization, and it only
remained for the leaders to decide upon a programme, to have it executed
with despatch and fidelity.

Languishing under the lash of chastisement inflicted upon those infamous
enough to aid and abet the cause of dismemberment, mutual hate and
slaughter, National extinction and death, they swore in this Order an
eternal and most dreadful oath of vengeance upon their offenders, and
pledged themselves, under fearful penalties of death, "ever to take up
arms in the cause of the oppressed in their own country, first of all,
against any monarch, prince, potentate, power or government usurped, and
found in arms and waging war against a people or peoples, who had of their
own _free choice_, inaugurated a government for themselves, in accordance
with and founded upon the eternal principles of truth."

Thus, the liveliest form of ancient or modern civilization, in a republic
just rising to the glories of empire, was to be sacrificed to the mad
notion of petty "State Sovereignty," by a sworn band of desperadoes. How
sad when other generations would ask, where is the Federal Government, to
be answered only by poets, who would sing her elegy, as in the past they
have sang that of the lamented Hellas:

"Ask the Paynim slave,
Who treads all tearless on her hallowed grave;
Invoke the spirits of the past, and shed
The voice of your strong bidding on the dead!
Lo! from a thousand crumbling tombs they rise--
The great of old, the powerful and the wise!
And a sad tale which none but they can tell,
Falls on the mournful silence like a knell.
Then mark yon lonely pilgrim bend and weep
Above the mound where genius lies in sleep.
And is this all? Alas! we turn in vain,
And, turning, meet the self-same waste again--
The same drear wilderness of stern decay;
Its former pride, the phantom of a day;
A song of summer-birds within a bower;
A dream of beauty traced upon a flower;
A lute whose master-chord has ceased to sound;
A morning-star struck darkling to the ground."

The thought of the miserable commentary stirs the ire of the patriot and
nerves his arm to daring deeds, in the holy cause of liberty, the
constitution, and his country.

Skulk back into your dark dens of iniquity, you Clement L. Vallandigham,
and you James A. McMaster, and you S. Corning Judd, and you Amos Green,
and you P.C. Wright, (in Fort Lafayette where you ought to be,) before the
wrath of honest people falls upon your wicked heads! Each of you, with the
exception of _you_, Wright, being too infamous for that, even, have been
before the Commission at Cincinnati, and stand before an outraged people
condemned out of your own lips! Dare insult the light of day with your
hideous faces, and be dashed in pieces on the rocks of public scorn!

But to return to our text, the Sons of Liberty, we find that undaunted
organization in full blast from the time of its official inception in New
York up to the Monday morning of the arrests on the 7th of November last.

It is now proposed to show, by an allusion to certain prominent facts
occurring during the summer of '64, that the so-called Democratic party
was the mainspring to the great conspiracy that has been attempted in the
North with so much audacity that many men of the best judgment can
scarcely believe it to be a reality. In this we do not wish to be
understood that all men who have heretofore voted the "unterrified"
ticket, have knowingly and willingly given aid and comfort to the
treasonable plans and purposes of their leaders, for our personal
acquaintance among that class of anti-administration men, is sufficient to
enable us to say, with confidence, that many of them are as loyal at heart
as any man who ever breathed the air of an American freeman.

But we mean this, and proclaim the fact in the face of every foe, that
upon the death of that lamented statesman and patriot, Stephen A. Douglas,
the Woods and McMasters of New York, the Seymours of Connecticut, the
Vallandighams and Pendletons of Ohio, the Voorhees and Dodds of Indiana,
the Judds and Greens of Illinois, and others of like ilk in other States,
obtained the chieftainship of the party and inveigled its too pliable
ranks into the prostituting embrace of this foul conspiracy, to overthrow
the government and crown with success the cause of the confederate arms.
It must be readily seen by every honest man of ordinary intelligence, that
such an affair could never have gained a foothold among our people under a
truly loyal condition of the opposing party. The truthfulness of this
assertion is so very forcible to the candid reader, that illustration or
argument in support of it would be superfluous. However, occasional
incidents will serve better to connect popular leaders with the subject of
these sketches, and call to the minds of participants practical facts.

Brig. Gen. Charles Walsh, some time during the winter of '64 and '65,
received his quantum of a fund, of which we shall hereafter speak, to
purchase arms to be distributed in the 1st Congressional district of
Illinois, comprising the county of Cook, and the scene of the late Chicago
conspiracy, the enactment of which was to be the signal for a general
conflagration of our cities, and thus fulfil the prophecy of Jeff. Davis,
that the grass would grow again, on the streets of the cities of the

Do the leaders of the Invincible Club, among whom are W.C. Goudy, John
Garrick, Malcom McDonald, and Dr. Swayne Wickersham, remember that that
institution was to be the public mouth-piece of the Sons of Liberty, in an
address to the Democracy of Chicago, to have been issued during the
Presidential campaign?

Do they also remember the joint delegation of Invincibles and Sons of
Liberty that received Vallandigham and the Woods of New York, on their
arrival in Chicago to participate in, and mould the proceedings of the
National Democratic Convention?

Do they further remember the remarkable speech made in their Hall during
the Convention, by Capt. Rynders of New York, whom they hissed from the
platform for his bold and fearless expression of loyal sentiments?

Do they remember the motto, "Never worship the setting sun," which
appeared on transparencies, and frequently fell from their own lips, and
was meant as a hit upon those who were supposed to have allied themselves
with treason, because of their belief in its eventual success?

Do they remember how it was proposed that Charles Walsh, of the Sons of
Liberty, was to negotiate a purchase of the Chicago _Post_, and convert it
to the same villainous purpose of its contemporary, the _Times_?

Have they forgotten the fifty or sixty thousand dollars raised by
subscription to the books of the Club, nominally to be used for procession
and illuminating purposes, but which was used for the purchase of arms and
the importation of butternuts, to engage in the attack upon Camp Douglas?

Have they forgotten that large sums of this money was obtained under false
pretences--under pretences that it was to be used for ordinary campaign

Have they forgotten that through their instrumentality the McClellan
Escorts, then organized in every ward, were officered by Sons of Liberty?

Have they forgotten the meeting of Invincible Club members and Sons of
Liberty in the sanctum sanctorum of the Chicago _Times_, where the
question of punishing Col. R.M. Hough and Mr. Eddy, in redress of personal
injuries alleged to have been inflicted upon Wilbur F. Story, was gravely
discussed by B.G. Caulfield, O.J. Rose, Alderman Barrett, S. Remington and
others, and where also, large numbers of muskets and smaller arms were

And lastly, have they forgotten that the Sons of Liberty, upon a certain
occasion well known to every Copperhead member of the last Common Council
of the city of Chicago, held themselves in readiness till after midnight,
expecting to be called to the assistance of that, at that time,
treasonable body?

None know the significance of these questions better than the persons
above mentioned, and _others who were on hand about those times_. The
merchants of South Water street in Chicago can now, perhaps, explain why
they were called upon to subscribe so heavily to the books of the
Invincible Club, and the writer would suggest the propriety of these
merchants compelling those who solicited these subscriptions, to deliver
up the arms so purchased, or refund the money to its rightful owners.

It is pretty well understood, we believe, that the Bridgeport Irish, vote
the "_straight ticket_." It is said, also, that James Geary, a Son of
Liberty and "old clothes man" on the corner of Wells and Madison streets,
could "influence hundreds of them by the wave of his hand." Now this "old
clothes man" was empowered to furnish food, raiment and shelter to all
escaped rebel prisoners, and charge the same to the Sons of Liberty,
_alias_ the Invincible Club, which, it is thought, _sometimes paid such
bills_ out of South Water Street money _subscribed for processions and
illuminations_. These facts are the keys to the revenue plan of the Sons
of Liberty.

The complicity of the "_straight ticket_" voters in this scheme is further
shown by the character of their State ticket, headed by Robinson for
Governor, Judd for Lieut. Governor, and Hise of La Salle for Auditor, each
Sons of Liberty, and Judd the Grand Commander of the State. If, as it
would be made to appear, there was no complicity between the Democracy and
the Confederate agents, why did Vallandigham, the Supreme Commander of an
Order having its inception in Richmond, address the people from every
stump in Illinois? If there was no complicity, why did Vallandigham, on
his return from exile, in his official capacity, with his staff around
him, defy the United States government that had justly banished him--with
80,000 Ohioans at his command?

If no complicity, why did all the rebels and confederate agents in Canada
come to the Chicago Convention, and why were they here again at the
November election? Copperheads of Chicago and elsewhere, answer these



Prior to July 1864, the information of the public or the authorities, in
respect to the aims, intents and objects of the organized bands of home
traitors, was very meagre and indefinite, for it was no easy task for
detectives or loyal citizens to enter the portals of the Temples. True,
enough had transpired at the investigations, and before military
commissions in different sections of the country, to awaken a painful
interest and unceasing vigilance on the part of loyal men. So well were
these organizations guarded, that vigilance committees of their members
were appointed with imperative instructions to report the names of all
civic officers and detectives in the employment of the United States and
Provost Marshals, and all persons, by whomsoever employed, who should
attempt to obtain the secrets of the Order. So complete was the
organization, that lists of names were reported and read at the weekly
meetings, and the following day the names and descriptions of such
officers were thoroughly circulated and reported to the brethren in other
cities and towns, and as well might a belled cat hope to invade the
precincts of rats and attain success, as for such a "spotted" individual
to gain access to the Temples of American Knights and Sons of Liberty. Not
a change was made on the police, not an increase or decrease of Provost
guards, not a change of even the location of artillery in Camp Douglas, no
change, however minute of interest to the rebels, was made but that it was
reported and discussed within these nests and dens of treason.

It was attempted on several occasions by parties of loyal men, to ferret
out and secure the secrets of the Order, but as well might an attempt have
been made to possess the secrets of the Council of Ten, by the officers of
the governments of Europe; it was almost impossible, and yet the
developments upon the recent trials show conclusively, that had the task
not been effected, the most terrible results would have ensued. With the
desire to aid the Government to the extent of individual ability, it was
not strange that when opportunity occurred, whereby all might be known,
and that knowledge applied to the benefit of our bleeding country, that
any loyal man would have availed himself of it, at any hazard. The writer
found such opportunity, and waiving all personal considerations, undertook
the task, trusting in God for success, and conscious that all good men
would approve the motive, and that if for a time, reproach and calumny
should cloud his reputation, or if perchance the assassin's hand should
execute the sworn purpose of the Order, as the penalty for surrendering
them to the hands of our Government, the time would surely come when the
motives and the acts would find that approval in the hearts of all honest
men, as it did in his own. Confiding the information accidentally obtained
to W.H. Rand, Esq., of Chicago, a gentleman whose patriotism and whose
reputation needs no encomiums, he immediately advised the expediency of
conference with the State Executive, and to the honor of Governor Richard
Yates, it should be said, he fully realized the importance of acquiring
reliable information of the plots of the secret ally of Jeff. Davis. By
Governor Yates an introduction was given to Brig.-Gen. Paine, then in
command of the department, and again full and unqualified approval of the
course thus far taken, was expressed, with the urgent request to follow up
every avenue of information in this direction. Gen. Paine issued an
introduction to Col. B.J. Sweet, whom he declared to be a "model man and a
model officer in every respect," and in whom all confidence in so
commendable a cause might be reposed. How nobly, how wisely and how well
that gallant officer discharged his trust, all who have observed his
course will concede, and that man whose heroism at the memorable battle of
Perryville, and on other battle fields, will ever be held in grateful
remembrance by his countrymen, has added new lustre to his name, and the
hearty benedictions which will ever be invoked for the defender of
Chicago--the noble Col. Sweet--attest the satisfaction and joy of the
people, to know that his services in this most difficult and hazardous
undertaking are appreciated by the General Government, and the star upon
his shoulder will glitter brighter as time wears on, and Copperheads live
only in history, an evidence of how low men may sink in the scale of
morality, and a warning to all future time. For the writer to have
hesitated in a course of duty so plain, and yet so distasteful would have
been criminal, cowardly, and unworthy of an American citizen. The
advantage gained was followed up unremittingly, by day and by night, for
many weary months, regardless of all professional duties and personal
considerations. It was at the outset found highly necessary, if not
indispensable, to have the concurrence of one good, loyal man of marked
qualification--one who was discreet, who had experience upon police
duties, who was prompt, energetic, persevering, patient, fearless, and
withal a strictly honest man, a citizen whose reputation was above
reproach; that man was found; he was Robert Alexander. After brief
consideration, Mr. Alexander gave to the writer his hearty and earnest
concurrence. Nothing was left undone by him that could further the
hazardous undertaking, and personal gratitude for his ready acquiescence,
which we tender to him, will meet with a ready response in the hearts of
all good citizens. It is now Thursday evening in July 1864. We will now
ask the reader to go again with us up those long, tedious flights of
stairs to the outer rooms of the "temple" of the Sons of Liberty in
Chicago. We left the room before with the remembrance of only a hole six
inches in diameter for a full sized Copperhead to crawl through, but we
shall have better success this time. Advancing to the aforesaid door, and
giving three distinct raps, the slide, which we find covers the hole from
the inside, is moved up, and a live, full-grown Copperhead peers through
the orifice. "We whisper the word "Peace," or "Peoria," or whatever the
monthly pass-word is, and the door is open, and we find ourselves within
the vestibule of the temple, surrounded by a little group going through
the preliminary exercises of initiation. We see the candidate and
sponsors, with hands uplifted, and listen to the very poor reading of an
officer, from the ritual, and giving the new comer his first dose of
States' sovereignty and secession. This is so mystified and clouded with
high-sounding words that the poor devil nods at every time the reader
stops for breath, or to expectorate tobacco juice, and the ceremony is
concluded, and the candidate, respectable for the good clothes which he
wears this night as a rarity, follows his conductor to another door, where
he hopes for admission, the only impression on the candidate being, that
his right arm is weary from being elevated so long, and that he is coming
rapidly into good fellowship with men of high judicial standing, who
propose to give Abolitionists and Lincoln particular "hell under the shirt
tail." Again they knock and are challenged by an inside guardian, who
lectures the newly fledged Son, who having nodded sufficiently, is
conducted to the Ancient Brother in the West, so that the _Son_, reversing
the order of nature, begins rising in the West. The "Ancient Brother" is a
better reader, for here we find _brains_ for the first time, as it is the
leaders, as we have already said, who do all the thinking, unless,
perchance, the simple wretches find themselves in Camp Douglas, where they
begin thinking for themselves. While the Ancient Brother is reading to the
attentive comer, now happy in the thought that he has taken himself in out
of the _draft_, let us survey the sanctum sanctorum; but first let us
advance to the centre of the hall, where we find a piece of dirty oil
cloth the size of a door mat, and stepping upon this, with body erect and
turning our back upon the Ancient Brother, we find ourselves facing the
Grand Seignior, who, on our first introduction, is Judge Morris; we
salute, which we do by applying the palm of our right hand to the lips,
then turning the hand to his seigniorship and bringing our left hand
across the breast, which salutation being returned by the Grand Seignior,
who sits upon a raised platform and wields a gavel, we take seats wherever
our sense of cleanliness will permit, and where we hope there may be no
traveling minute messengers conveying ideas from one man's head to
another. On the north side of the room is another platform and desk, where
a guardian sits and addresses the candidate, who is supposed to lose his
way and to be set right by this guardian, and even if the candidate is
thoroughly sober he may be excused for losing his way, for it is a matter
of much doubt whether he was ever in such a labarynth of words as he has
just heard from the Ancient Brother, who, having given the man some pretty
strong obligations, to endorse and support the policy of Jeff. Davis,
together with an intimation that if he ever exposes any of the secrets, he
may expect to suffer all sorts of penalties, and told him to fancy he had
just received an acorn, the emblem of the order--he now sits down quietly
in the pleasant consciousness that "we have got one more good voter on our
side." The guardian of the North having put the new _Son_ on his way, he
appears in the East, reflecting his effulgence all around. The Grand
Seignior now rises from his seat, drops his gavel and explains the
mysteries of the initiation, giving him another dose of secession, about
as much as the poor fellow can carry; tells him how to challenge a
brother, concluding by giving the grand sign of distress, which is by
raising the right hand and calling out "_Ocoon_" three times, which he
says is made up of the name of _Calhoun_, whose name is mentioned with
great reverence. Thus closes the ceremony of initiation. "Considerations
for the good of the Order" being the next order of business, speeches are
made by some of the older heads to make the new one feel at home. This
"feast of reason and flow of soul" over, other business is transacted, and
the temple is closed, the Grand Seignor occasionally expressing a few
words of caution, saying that but few members must be present at the
meetings at _this_ hall, as the presence of too great numbers will excite
suspicion and lead to arrest. The next weekly meeting similar events
occur, but _new faces_ appear at every meeting, that is to say, the
greater number of members who were present last week are absent this week,
and others take their places. The Chicago _Times_, however, is well
represented at most of the important meetings. There were about two
thousand members of the Sons of Liberty in "good and regular standing" in
Chicago alone, at the time they were let down. By careful arrangements we
were able to have reports from the different temples throughout the most
important points in the Northwest, and carefully noted the chief business
and obtained the list of members, all of which has been as carefully
placed in the hands of the authorities of the War Department, and months
ago much of the information was imparted to Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, in
command of the Northern Department, who was pleased to express his highest
appreciation of the services rendered, and a desire to have the
investigation thoroughly made, that indisputable facts might be obtained,
that truth and justice might be promoted and the interest of the country
thereby protected. So thorough and searching has been the investigation
that _every_ man of any note in this order, in almost every locality where
this moral cancer has existed, is known and may consider himself in future
upon his good behavior. It was the policy of the Sons of Liberty, which
they observed as far as it was possible for them to do, to obtain
positions of trust in the army, upon the police, in the courts, in railway
offices and telegraph stations, in the office of Provost Marshals,
post-offices, departments of government, both local and general, indeed,
so completely did they carry out this plan, that they made their boasts
that they were represented upon all the railroads running out of Chicago,
and it was not an unusual thing for them to report matters of the various
departments just mentioned. One member of the Chicago Order, as appeared
in evidence before the military commission, traveled over the North
wherever he desired, on the pass of a Provost Marshal in Indiana, his
business being to aid in the organization of Temples in the different
sections of the West. So rapidly did they increase in numbers, that Judge
Morris estimated the number in Illinois alone at 80,000 members.

It was a rule of the organization, that its members should all be well
armed and skilled in the use of weapons. The rapidity of increase in
numbers, rendered them conscious of their strength, and they became openly
defiant and talked treason upon the corners of our streets, and wherever
little groups of people assembled. The mob spirit was excited, and all
were ready for mischief whenever opportunity offered; and while all were
bound to wait submissively till their leaders should give the signal for
revolution, still many were restless and impatient for the hour to come,
and hoped that they would not long have to wait. The suppression of the
Chicago _Times_ was an auspicious moment for them, and they made capital
of it. They were never tired of talking of Vallandigham, and while that
worthy staid in Canada he was very serviceable to the Order, as John
Rogers was of more service to the church dead than while living.
Vallandigham made an excellent martyr and an accomplished exile, but as an
active member at home, old Doolittle, or Charles W. Patten, or James A.
Wilkinson, or J.L. Rock, or Obadiah Jackson, Jr., Esq., or even Mrs.
Morris herself, was worth two just like him. Why he could not have staid
in Canada for the good of the cause, we cannot understand. What a Mecca
was Windsor, and how great was Mahomet, but alas, when the great, the Hon.
Clement Vallandigham relapsed into the three-cent fourth-class lawyer, in
the little one horse city of Dayton, "what a fall was there my
countrymen." No more pilgrimages, no more dinners with the great exile, no
more texts of "arbitrary arrests" to preach from, that could draw as Val
used to draw.

The reception of the news of a victory by the rebels, was always an
occasion of rejoicing among the Sons and Knights, and in the exuberance of
their joy they shouted their treason in all sorts of places, and at all
seasons. They assumed to be peace men, and yet were always ready for a
quarrel. It became evident to all who kept posted in politics, that there
would be a wide division between the different wings of the Democracy at
the coming National Convention, and a most determined effort was to be
made by the Peace faction, to control the action of the Convention, and
long before the assembling of that body, newspaper strife had commenced
between them, and it was hoped, and so it proved, that like the Kilkenny
cats, they devoured each other. With Peace in their mouths and contention
in their hearts, the "unterrified" resolved upon a great meeting, to be
held in Peoria. It was a "big thing." The Chicago delegation took for the
calumet of peace several boxes of fire-arms, so that if opportunity
offered they might conquer a peace. Whiskey and gunpowder were other
elements of that meeting, and as the escape of gas in petroleum wells, so
noisy for a time, finally subsides, so after the ebullition at Peoria,
Brig.-Gen. Walsh, and all the Chicago delegates, returned home, bringing
with them their fire arms, without breaking bulk, and these weapons were
carefully deposited, where they could instantly be obtained at the time of
the uprising.



We have already shown that the three degrees in the Sons of Liberty had
each their specific province. The lower strata composed of the rough
material from which the Grand Council was made up by selections or choice
of the brighter and more shining lights,--persons whose political views
were up to the standard of treason, whose qualifications of intellect,
shrewdness, cunning, caution, promptness, and firmness of purpose fully
met the requirements of this degree of the order. The Supreme Council was
composed of the Supreme Commanders--the ruling spirits of the order. This
council was the body, therefore, from which all important measures must
emanate, and the secrecy of their movements, even from the order below
them, except such business as was regularly transmitted, was quite equal
to that of the lower order, from the rest of the world. Such being the
nature and character of this royal degree, and the fact that an uprising
had been determined upon, it will be seen how essential it was to the
Government of the United States, to be advised of their plans, and the
old adage that "where there is a will there is a way," was not a fallacy
in the present case. On or about the 20th of July, 1863, agreeably to a
private notice which had been extended to the Supreme Council, a meeting
of that body was convened at the Richmond House, Chicago. During that day,
as well as on the day preceding, members of that organization arrived in
the city, and among the notables present on that occasion was Col.
Barrett, who was a Major-General of the Sons of Liberty, in command of the
District of Illinois, but who on the present occasion appeared in another
character of no less moment, that of representative of the Confederate
States Government, and charged with certain important instructions. Among
the members present were Captain Majors, from Canada; Brig.-Gen. Charles
Walsh, of Chicago; Judge Bullitt, of the Supreme Court of Kentucky, who
acted as Chairman; Dr. Bowles, Mr. Swan, Mr. Williams, Mr. Green, Mr.
Piper, Mr. Holloway, H.H. Dodd and James B. Wilson, Auditor of Washington
County, Indiana. The last named person and Mr. Green were present as
members of Dr. Bowles' staff. After considerable discussion upon minor
matters, Major-General Barrett, (commonly called Colonel Barrett, who had
served the Rebel Government with some distinction, and was a first class
rebel), made a formal proposition to unite Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri,
Ohio and Indiana with the Confederate States, through the agency of the
Sons of Liberty, and as to the other States, their relations would be an
after consideration. The enterprise, he stated, would be attended with no
little expense, and would necessarily involve extreme caution, prudence
and firmness. He added, that the Southern Confederacy had placed in his
hands the snug little sum of two millions of dollars, which had been
captured from a Federal paymaster on the Red River, in Arkansas, to be
applied in furtherance of this proposition. Captain Majors was also, by
his own statement, a representative of the Rebel Government. It was
proposed to distribute the two millions of dollars through the Grand
Commanders of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois, and that the
money was by them to be distributed through the Major-Generals to the
subordinate officers, according as might be deemed expedient. This money,
says Mr. Wilson, (and we have the best of reasons to credit his
statement,) was expended for arms. Well do we remember that an oral report
was submitted one evening at the Temple of the Illini, by the Grand
Seignor presiding, that the pro rata for Illinois had been so expended,
and that the weapons had been started for their destination, which was
Chicago. These arms consisted of muskets, carbines, pistols, pistol belts
and ammunition. At the Council meeting, of which we have spoken, the whole
subject of revolution was freely discussed, and received the unanimous
support of all present, and a time was named and agreed upon, but not
until after much debate, several dates being named by different parties,
and reasons given for fixing upon each. It was arranged that the Order in
Indiana were to rendezvous at Indianapolis, also at Evansville, New Albany
(opposite Louisville,) and Terra Haute, that they would seize the arsenal
at Indianapolis, and the arms and ammunition would be distributed among
the members. Wilson, before the military commission in Cincinnati, states
that he learned from Dr. Bowles, that it was the purpose of the Order to
free the rebel prisoners at Indianapolis, and that the same had been
agreed upon with respect to other rebel camps, in other States, on the
supposition that they would unite with the Sons of Liberty, in overturning
the Government, and if they were found willing to do this, arms were to be
placed in their hands. At that meeting it was a matter of discussion in
what manner it was feasible to communicate with Gens. Buckner and Price,
in order that they might co-operate, and have their forces near St. Louis
and Louisville. The approach of their troops to those cities was the
favored moment for beginning hostilities in the North. Mr. Wilson
testified that he received a thousand dollars of the two million fund, but
that instead of appropriating it according to the programme, he used it
for buying substitutes, but the rightful owner can have the same upon
call. Maj.-Gen. Barrett, the party having the fund in trust, has left the
country, doubtless for his _health_, and the thousand dollars is still
without an applicant.

At this memorable meeting, as it was the last meeting of this body ever
held in Chicago, it was agreed that at the time of the uprising, friends
(rebels and copperheads) should appear with red and white badges, and the
property of such persons would also be saved from destruction by
displaying from their buildings the Confederate flag. Thus were ample and
definite arrangements made, and as that meeting adjourned it was the
deliberate end and aim of all the persons there assembled (with a single
exception) to effect their objects at all hazards. All who were present,
as well as the rebels then in Richmond, conceded that of all points in the
several States embraced in the proposition with which Col. Barrett was
entrusted, Chicago was by far the most important post, and the one which,
of all others, should first fall. The facility and ease with which Camp
Douglas could be taken, was a matter of remark among the traitors in every
section, and it was understood that communication could readily be made
with the prisoners, as Mrs. Morris, wife of Judge Morris, and others who
were known to be in the interest of the Confederacy, had never been denied
access to the camp, and such prohibition was scarcely expected, as of
course the plans of the conspirators must be a dead secret from the
commander of the post. In the temples of the Sons of Liberty it was a
matter of congratulation that it was impossible for a detective to obtain
their secrets, yet all this time Col. B.J. Sweet was well acquainted with
every move that had the least importance, for the writer made it an
invariable custom to send dispatches regularly to Col. Sweet, who thus
came into full possession of the plans and designs of the Order, as soon
as they were announced, and hence was at all times in a position that he
could not have been surprised by any assault upon the Camp. The Colonel is
at all times perfectly cool and self-possessed, prudent in the highest
degree, and inflexible in purpose, when once resolved upon a line of
action. His arrangements were made with all celerity and completeness, and
though his little force was quite too small to offer great resistance in
case of surprise had not the facts been known to the commandant, yet the
interior arrangement of the camp, the disposition of his forces, and above
all, the perfect discipline which had ever been maintained by him, now
offered a silent barrier which caused the conspirators to entertain
direful apprehensions, as to the disaster to themselves when they should
make the undertaking, for the movements of the camp were noticed from the
observatories near by, and on one occasion Brig. Gen. Walsh, accompanied
by an attache of the Chicago _Times_, made a personal visit to the camp,
and being received as gentlemen by the gallant Colonel, they were able to
make certain discoveries of a disagreeable nature. The greatest
precaution, of course, was observed in the transmission of dispatches by
the writer to Col. Sweet, for had it been supposed for a moment, that the
commander of the post was cognizant of their acts, it would most certainly
have precipitated the uprising, as the leaders of the conspiracy could not
hope for so favorable a time again. The camp was enclosed by only one
thickness of inch boards, not over twelve feet high, and a little force of
less than eight hundred men were to guard some eight or ten thousand
prisoners, many of them being the lowest class of raiders and ruffians.

During the latter part of July, at a meeting of the Sons of Liberty,
Colonel Walker, of Indiana, was present, and in a speech referred to the
recent seizure of arms in Indiana, and said a formal demand had been made
upon Governor Morton of that State for them, and if they were not
forthcoming they (the copperheads) would compel restitution by the bullet,
and said Morton would be assassinated if he refused. At this time a man
named James A. Wilkinson was Grand Seignior of the temple. The question of
supplying our quota to avoid the draft, agitating the community, it was
proposed to resist the draft, and all the members were required forthwith
to arm themselves with firearms, and Charles W. Patten and Wilkinson both
offered to supply all who could not afford to purchase firearms. Wilkinson
was a very efficient member of the order, and very zealous. Much of his
time he passed in the organization of temples in different sections of
country; and it was often stated as encouragement for the members that the
temples were rapidly multiplying, and being filled with the "best kind" of
men. It was earnestly requested of the members, as the time was
short--Judge Morris saying the purposes of the organization would be
fulfilled within the next sixty days--to bring in as many new members as
possible, and the injunction was duly heeded. The temple in Chicago
thrived remarkably, and arrangements were made by which individuals could
initiate members, and the initiated increased in numbers rapidly.



The approach of the time fixed for the general uprising, witnessed
remarkable and very unusual activity among the members of the Sons of
Liberty, who now saw vividly the complete realization of their wishes, and
were all, rank and file, in obedience to orders, busy with preparations.
Little did the busy bustling city know of the plans and movements on foot.
The same activity in trade, the same hopeful spirit among Union persons,
the same gatherings at amusements, the same busy hum of industry as ever;
nothing gave evidence of the existence of the terrible plot so soon to
culminate, and to destroy by a single blow the hopes of our people,--to
inaugurate a reign of terror as fearful as any in the history of the war.
Citizens met and congratulated each other upon Union victories, and upon
the probable speedy close of the national strife, and at the firesides of
home discussed the terrible ravages of war, and as they knelt at the
family altar, thanked God that our own city, and our State, and our
section of the Union, had thus far been spared the immediate horrors and
desolation which ever mark the theatre of warfare. Who of all in our fair
city, besides the guilty wretches who were plotting the ruin and
slaughter, had even a foreboding of the trouble so nearly upon them. For
rebels in arms to commit cruelties and barbarities would have been
expected, but for the authors of our ruin to be our very friends and
neighbors, persons associated with us in business avocations, in social
relations, and in the enjoyment of the same general blessings with
ourselves, surpassed belief; yet such was the fact, and the faces that
beamed smiles upon us by day, and joined us in our congratulations for
national victories, by night were hideous with the dark designs and
murderous intent. The gunsmiths were busy, and trade in weapons of all
kinds was brisk; revolvers and knives particularly were articles of
demand. So brisk and yet so silently and secretly, was the arming of
individuals carried on, that weeks before the Convention assembled, but
few, if any, of the members of Copperhead organizations but were well
armed, and many had arms with which to supply other persons who might be
less fortunate than themselves. It was indeed a dark picture to look in
upon a group of the Sons of Liberty in their secure retreats, in the quiet
hours of night, cleaning, repairing and inspecting their muskets and
revolvers, moulding bullets, and making other preparations, and realizing
that the mission of these monsters was the murder of men who dared
proclaim and maintain their devotion to the Union. Upon the streets
treason became emboldened, as time rolled on, and not a few personal
collisions occurred from its utterance.

All this while that contemptible print, the Chicago _Times_, was
instilling treason into the minds of its readers, and doing all that it
could to embarrass the Government, discourage patriotism, and to give aid
and comfort to the rebels; our victories, with that sheet, were always
unimportant; our cause was unholy; our President a despot; our Union
soldiers were hirelings; our Union-loving citizens were abolition fanatics;
Jeff Davis was a master spirit of the age; his generals the heroes of the
_Times_; and rebel victories were events cheering and hope giving, as they
presaged the close of the war and peace; peace at the sacrifice of the
Union, of national honor, of national dignity and national interests. Such
was the Chicago _Times_ at that period--the darkest era in our
history--and as well might we have looked for mercy from a hyena, or
reason from a ghoul, as in the event of open insurrection in our city, to
have looked to Wilbur F. Story, editor of the _Times_, to have endeavored
to suppress the flames his incendiary print had for years been fanning
into a blaze. And yet, citizens of Chicago and the West, this same Chicago
_Times, now_, after the occupation of Richmond by our forces, and the
surrender of Lee and all his forces, and the end of the rebellion is at
hand, this same Chicago _Times_ pretends to rejoice in our success, and
some days turns a cold shoulder upon its old friend and patron, who has
contributed to its circulation and prosperity for years--Jeff Davis--and
really declares that his master's cause is hopeless. Most noble Story,
most patriotic Story, most consistent Story! Rather weep with the fallen
fortunes of your masters. Flatter not yourself that the cloak of loyalty,
which you have found it so convenient to fling around you, as our Union
processions come marching along with thundering tread, that they will
believe your conversion sincere and lasting; the cloak is not long enough
to conceal your feet, and Union men will recognize the same Wilbur F.
Story, and none will be so obtuse as not to discover under any disguise
Bottom, the tailor. In the position of that Copperhead print, the state of
mind of the _Times_ man reminds us of an instance of what may be called
poor consolation, A soldier of a division, after the command had run two
days from the scene of an engagement, had thrown away his gun and
accouterments, and alone in the woods sat down and commenced thinking--the
first opportunity he had for doing so. Rolling up his sleeves, and looking
at his legs and general physique, he thus gave utterance to his feelings:
"I am whipped--badly whipped--and somewhat demoralized, but no man, thank
God, can say I'm scattered!" And so, the Chicago _Times_, though kicked out
of respectable society long ago, continues to print its daily issues,
while from the scarcity of Copperheads all at once, since our recent
glorious victories, we infer that _they_ have been "scattered;" and as
snakes cast their skins in the spring, so the Copperhead _Times_ seems to
have cast its own this season; but though it may appear in more pleasing
garb with its present covering, let none forget that it is the same old
Copperhead still. And the time will come when some enterprising showman
will obtain and exhibit the last issue of that delectable sheet as the
acme of treason and corruption during the war, and as an illustration of
what villainy the mind of man may conceive, when he once turns against his

About the period of which we write, say a month prior to the Convention,
informal meetings of the Sons of Liberty were frequent, and large numbers
of the members often went out of the city on excursions, nominally for
pleasure, but really for practice with fire arms. The most active
preparations were made by the Democrats, resident of Chicago, to be able
to accommodate their brethren from abroad, who would attend the
Convention, or who would pay them an earlier visit; for the time of the
uprising, it will be remembered, had been fixed for about the middle of
August. The time assigned arrived, but "all was quiet on the Potomac," and
along the placid and fragrant Chicago. It was a complete fizzle, but not
from want of harmonious action on the part of the Copperheads of the
Northwest, but to the chagrin of the Rebel government, Gen. Price failed
to make his appearance in the vicinity of St. Louis, or Buckner about
Louisville. The disappointment and vexation of the Sons of Liberty was
great, and it found expression in the peculiar style of oratory and
diction, which Judge Morris had introduced into the Temple. The failure of
the rebels to concur, as had been arranged, was for a time quite
inexplicable and unsatisfactory to the most ultra secesh of the Temple. It
was not easy to communicate with Price and Buckner, and much mystery and
doubt hung over the failure. The leaders were in doubt as to the wisdom of
rising at the Convention, some being in favor and others adverse to it. It
was evident the leaders were not a little embarrassed, but they finally
agreed that a large force of "bone and muscle" should be on hand in
Chicago at the Convention, and if it was found that the War Democrats
should be in the ascendency, and the Peace wing could get nothing--either
platform or candidate--the uprising should occur at that time, but so
confident were the Peace men that they should be able to have the control
of the Convention, that Judge Morris and Brig.-Gen. Walsh, and other
leaders, announced to the members of the _Illini_ their entire belief that
there would be no doubt of the success of the Peace wing, in that
Convention, and if so, no insurrectionary movement would be expedient; but
if the uprising did not occur then, it surely would at the time of the
Presidential election, and in the time which would elapse between the
Convention and the election, the most active and earnest efforts would be
made to strengthen the numbers of the Temples of the Sons of Liberty,
wherever they existed. Judge Morris had expressed the confident belief
that no difficulty would occur at the Convention, but declared if they
(the Copperheads) should meet with any interference, the most serious
results would follow.

The rank and file who had been edified by such men as J.L. Rock, Charles
W. Patten, James A. Wilkinson, L.C. Morrison, L.A. Doolittle, James Geary,
Mr. Duncan, Mr. Dooley, Mr. Frank Adams, City Attorney, and many others
were most impatient, and it was quite probable that a slight cause of
offence with Union men would result in an open riot, that could not be
suppressed till the grand aim of the Order was accomplished. About this
time L.A. Doolittle, who was never tired of expressing his devotion to the
distinguished exile Mr. Vallandigham, announced that Mr. V., who was
Supreme Commander of the whole Order, would honor the Chicago Temple with
a visit during the Convention, but that worthy could not find time to make
the visit. As the excitement of the coming Convention seized upon the
minds of those who were to participate in it, much speech making was done
inside the Temples. At these meetings the writer particularly noticed two
members, who seemed to have fallen into disfavor by the course which they
had seen fit to adopt. One of these men was Christopher C. Strawn, a young
lawyer of this city, of some education, a very fair order of talents, and
who had seemed hitherto taciturn and reserved. Upon conversation with him
we were astonished to find that he did not approve of the Jeff. Davis
principles, and had no fellowship with any overt act of treason. He had
been appointed a Brigadier-General, on the ground of his supposed ability,
but early took occasion to express himself, in such a manner that his
commission was speedily revoked. Mr. Strawn was, he declares, not in the
clique who favored a revolution. Mr. Strawn was subsequently arrested, but
he was soon released, and freely communicated truthful information to the

During the summer an event truly unfortunate for the Sons of Liberty took
place, it being an expose in the Chicago _Tribune_ of the signs, grips,
passwords, &c. of the order. This was a cause of great distress of mind.
We remember that at a meeting about the 25th of August (Charles W. Patten
presiding), the expediency of changing the signs, grips, &c. was
considered, inasmuch as it would be unsafe to use them in public, but the
lateness of the day, and the time drawing so near when the entire forces
of the order would be called into requisition, it was not deemed expedient
to undertake any change or modification. At this meeting Judge Morris made
a speech in which he said that a demand had been made for arms seized in
Indiana (as Col. Walker had proposed to do), and if the demand failed, the
revolution would be begun in Indiana "as sure as there was a God in heaven
or an abolitionist in hell."

At a meeting of the Chicago Temple Sons of Liberty, on the eve of the
Convention, we heard for the first time (and that from the mouth of L.A.
Doolittle), a definite plan for the attack of Camp Douglas. Doolittle told
how the camp was situated, and that it was accessible on two sides; that
guns were in position on only one side, and the west side was referred to
by him as being the weakest; he spoke of the common board fence which
formed the enclosure, and of the ease with which the camp could be taken,
and the vast importance of liberating the prisoners the first thing upon
an uprising. The speech of Doolittle was variously received; many of the
members were much interested; others who were in the higher degrees of the
order were vexed beyond measure that Doolittle should be so stupid as to
proclaim, in this public manner, a matter which really belonged to higher
degrees of the organization to decide. One of the number, James Geary, a
second-hand clothes dealer and broker on Wells street, who will receive
further mention by and by, became so much incensed that he ordered Mr.
Doolittle to his seat, declaring, with an oath, that Doolittle was telling
too much.

At a meeting about this time, several of the members spoke upon the
subject of releasing the prisoners at Camp Douglas. A map of Camp Douglas
was exhibited by an individual present, who seemed to be a soldier. The
map was a fine piece of work and had been made by a hand accustomed to
such labor. Upon this map the precise position of the various departments,
headquarters, cannon, &c., were laid down. There could be no shadow of
doubt in the mind of any man not stupefied with whiskey, and possessed of
common sense, that the details of the attack had been carefully considered
by those who were most interested in leading it on.

It had for some time been the policy of the Sons of Liberty to unite with
the Invincible Democratic Club and the various McClellan escorts in the
city and elsewhere, and seek to become its officers, that in case of an
outbreak it would be far better to be the controlling power, than to be
controlled. This plan worked admirably, and the Democratic Invincible Club
of Chicago became one of the most corrupt organizations outside the order
of Sons of Liberty. Its secretary at one time was Charles W. Patten, who
had been a Grand Seignior of the Chicago Temple, was also a member of the
Grand Council, and had taken a very active part in the prosperity of the
order, and was chairman of the committee to see that all the Sons of
Liberty were armed. One of the officers of the above named Club was Capt.
P.D. Parks, whose devotion to Jeff. Davis and good whiskey were noticeable
features in his character. This Capt. Parks was captain of the Invincible
Club and often made speeches in the Sons of Liberty Hall.

On Saturday the 26th August (two days prior to the National Democratic
Convention), immense numbers of persons came flocking to Chicago, indeed
at no former time in the history of the city was there such an influx of
strangers; they came in the cars and in wagon trains, and on horseback.
One county alone sent nearly a thousand men. It was a noticeable fact that
almost all persons who came into the city were well armed, and some of
them even brought muskets. Treason was now rampant, and it would not be
difficult, in looking around upon the most unprepossessing groups, and to
hear the language, to fancy one's-self in Charleston, or some other nest
of treason. From all the men who came to the city we did not, in a single
instance, hear one good, hearty expression of Unionism, but our "Southern
brethren and their rights," and this "wicked war," &c., &c., were the
topics of conversation, and it was safe to set it down, that this was the
Peace wing of that most remarkable bird,--Democracy of 1864.

The writer was in close communication with Col. Sweet, commandant at Camp
Douglas, and by aid of our auxiliaries not an item of information
concerning the hostile intentions of the party transpired, that was not
known instantly by Col. Sweet,--special carriers or orderlies conveying
our dispatches. It must not be supposed that our observations were
confined to Chicago. Our channels of communication with the principal
points in the West were unobstructed; our "telegraphic cable" was in fine
working order, and if those wise heads for a moment fancied that Col. B.J.
Sweet might be caught napping, they were the worst self-deceived men we
have ever seen. Col. Sweet proceeded with all caution and celerity to make
his arrangements, and we beg the Colonel not to regard it as a breach of
confidence in us to say, that the guns were in such a position and so well
managed, that had there been any attempt to have assaulted the camp, there
would not have been able-bodied traitors enough left, to have carried the
killed and wounded to secure retreats. Almost any officer, perhaps, less
cool than Col. Sweet would have blustered about in such a manner as to
have rendered himself not only positively offensive to the citizens, but
would have placed the city under martial law, and doubtless precipitated
the very event it was wise for a time to avert. Col. Sweet was cool, and
managed the matter with the most perfect military ability and skill. He
compelled everybody, friend and foe, to respect him by his dignified,
gentlemanly bearing, and yet there was that about his appearance that told
plainer than words, that while he was courteous, polite, kind and willing
to do all in his power and consistent with his duty to preserve the peace,
yet had an outbreak been begun, of all men in Chicago, rebels and
sympathisers would prefer to get as far as possible from Col. Sweet, or
the reach of his influence. This gallant officer had his men under such
perfect discipline that a simple request, even when the men were not on
duty, was obeyed with the alacrity as if it had been a peremptory order.
The discovery that Col. Sweet was ready for them, which discovery was
early made and duly reported, had much to do with the good order which
prevailed in Chicago during the Convention.



The extraordinary activity of recruiting for the Sons of Liberty, and the
zeal displayed by the master spirit of the Temple was ominous of the
wicked work they might be called upon to perform. James A. Wilkinson, who
was elected Grand Senior, was too young a man in the estimation of many,
and he was about to resign, when Judge Morris remarked, that "age was not
always wisdom" (the truth of which his own career has fully illustrated,)
and by request Wilkinson continued to hold the post. The old order for
arming of members was called up, and all were required to comply with the
condition at once; a particular pattern of revolvers was specially
recommended, and it was ascertained that the members were in almost every
instance, fully armed. A young man named R.T. Semmes, who was said to be a
near relative to the commander of the rebel pirate Alabama, was appointed
to deliver an address before the Order, but this duty was never complied
with in a formal manner, as it was subsequently thought Judge Morris was
better qualified, he being in a higher degree than Mr. Semmes, to impart
such information as the lower degree should know. Upon an occasion of a
special meeting, the Judge made a long address, in which he stated the
number of members of the Order in Illinois at 80,000 men, saying they were
all well drilled and could be implicitly relied upon, at the right time;
members were enjoined to remember their obligations to sustain the
principles of the Order, and to aid each other. The Judge stated that "we"
(the Sons of Liberty,) had _two full regiments_ all well armed and
drilled, in Chicago, and that a third was forming. Such cheering
information was received with great gratification, and gave a greater
impetus to the recruiting for the Order.

The question of the draft agitated the members at each meeting, and all
declared their purpose never to go to the army, either voluntarily or
otherwise, to fight our brethren, "whose cause was just and right," and a
strong attempt was made to array the organization by formal action to
oppose the Government, and those especially who were impatient for the
general uprising, thought it a timely opportunity and ample provocation,
and felt confident that as the South manifested open hostility and
presented a bold and united front instantly upon the firing of the first
gun upon Fort Sumter, so would it be in all the States of the Northwestern
league; they would at once rise, when knowing that their brethren of
Chicago were in arms against the "usurper and his hirelings;" but these
hasty counsels did not prevail, and individuals were exhorted to take care
of themselves if drafted, but on no account to go to the army.

Not only was there remarkable activity in the Chicago Temple just prior to
the Convention, but in all the States where the order existed. Our Indiana
neighbors often sent their worst Copperheads to the Chicago Temple to
receive instructions in regard to the mode of initiation; and about this
time, a man named Westfall, of Elkhart, Indiana, appeared in the Temple,
and edified the members with most _encouraging_ accounts of the order in
his own State. He was properly qualified as a Grand Seignor, and no doubt
served with that grace and dignity of which his appearance gave such
promise. It is hoped that the citizens of Elkhart appreciate this
gentleman's devotion to "the great cause." Judge T.H. Marsh was put
through a similar course of training, and being possessed of remarkable
dignity, no doubt made an excellent Grand Seignor. If he was not fit for a
good Judge, he was fit for a Son of Liberty. He no doubt remembers the
artist, who by an unlucky daub, spoiled his picture of an angel, but took
fresh courage, declaring it would make an excellent devil. So the judge
may make his own application.

The day of the great Convention at length dawned upon at least a hundred
thousand strangers in Chicago. Every hotel was densely packed from cellar
to garret, private houses were filled to their uttermost capacity, while
hundreds the night before, who could not find any kind of a shelter, took
in plenty of whisky to prevent catching cold, and laid themselves quietly
at rest in the gutters, much to the consternation of the myriads of rats
that infest our streets. These street sleepers now arose, and shaking
themselves, their toilet was complete. Of all the God-forsaken,
shaggy-haired, red-faced, un-shorn, hard-fisted, blasphemous wretches that
have ever congregated, even at the gallows at Newgate, many of the
visitors of the Peace wing of the Democracy were entitled to the first
consideration. Still there was no collision with the citizens, although
the representatives of the "unterrified" had sworn that there should be no
arrests in Chicago during the Convention. The better class of strangers
were War Democrats, and it was evident they had no fellowship for the
ragmuffins of the Peace wing.

It should here be stated that the Order of the Sons of Liberty had
purchased firearms, carbines, pistols, shot guns and rifles, and at the
time of the Convention had stored in the city of Chicago, arms, for at
least ten thousand men. These arms had been brought here at various times;
some of them had been brought by vessels and others by rail, and were now
safely deposited in four different depots in Chicago, the locations of
which were known only to the Sons themselves. From these four principal
depots one or more boxes of arms were taken on such occasions as would
best serve, and placed in trust with some out-and-out rebel sympathizer in
the different wards, so that at the time of the general uprising the
"faithful" could readily obtain supplies. On one occasion Brig.-Gen. Walsh
applied to H.A. Phelps, on State street, with a request for him to receive
two boxes of muskets, but that man did not like to incur the risk,
whatever his sympathies may have been, and the arms were not deposited
with him.

It was quite apparent, the first day of the Convention, that our citizens
had resolved to act upon the advice of Adjutant-General Fuller, to let
these fellows "have their jaw out," and they did have it out, and became
terrible _bores_.

At an early hour, the temporary building erected for this gathering, near
Michigan Avenue, was crowded to excess, and after beginning their labors
all the speakers, without exception, entertained the audience and relieved
themselves of the most violent denunciations of President Lincoln, and the
policy of the administration. Each speaker vied with the last in culling
from his vocabulary of hard words, terms sufficiently expressive of their
feelings toward the government, but do as well as they might, even with
the aid of the poorest quality of whiskey and education, evidently of many
years among the lowest of the low, not one of them could out-do the
Chicago _Times_. The only parties who could approximate it were Gov.
Harris of Maryland, and Long of Ohio, who were most decidedly in favor of
secession. The differences between the War Democrats and the Peace men,
well nigh ended in personal violence, and would, but for timely
interference of the police. It is not our purpose to report the doings of
the Convention, and an allusion is only made to call special attention to
the elements which made up the party who gave to General George B.
McClellan a nomination which proved to him the worst punishment that could
have been inflicted, and exhibited him to the world in worse company than
he had ever before mingled. The hostility between the different factions
of the party, but rendered the Peace wing or Sons of Liberty the more
united, and more firmly bent upon the overthrow of the government, as they
saw clearly enough, even before the adjournment, that there was not a
shadow of hope of electing the ticket formed, and the only hope of genuine
copperheads now laid in the election of State officers, and Judge Morris
told the people "if we can but get our Governor and Lieut.-Governor, it is
all we ask for; the order is strong enough in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky,
Missouri, Iowa and Ohio to enable us to take the general government into
our own hands." He added, "as the Washington government had not seen fit
to execute the Constitution and the laws, we will bring them to Illinois
and execute them ourselves."

At the close of the Convention, and the compromise had been made by the
different factions of the party, then came a time for general rejoicing.
In the evening torchlight processions, with lanterns and transparencies
bearing devices and mottos, all expressive of their animosity at the
administration. At the head of one of these processions was Maj.-Gen.
Barrett, the military commander of Illinois. At that very time Barrett had
in his pocket a programme, which had an intimation been received from
Price or Buckner, would have been of fearful import to the citizens of
Chicago. Barrett had at one time lived in Chicago, but for some months
past was a resident of Missouri. He was thoroughly armed, and well knew
the elements that had assembled in the city. Barrett had been in the rebel
service, or rather we should say in _another_ arm of the service, inasmuch
as none in these days, when all men are for the Union, and it is so easy
to be a patriot, will pretend to deny that the Sons of Liberty were as
much an arm of service for Jeff. Davis as his artillery or infantry. This
fellow Barrett, had on one occasion, as appears by testimony before the
Cincinnati military commission, visited Chicago as an accredited agent of
the Davis government, but he was not molested, and mingled with men of his
own stripe, without fear and without difficulty. It will be interesting by
and by, to read of the Chicago Convention, and the incongruous elements
there assembled. But as all things have an end, so did this remarkable
gathering, and dispersed quietly, never again to meet as the
representatives of the American people.

Of course most of the Roughs of the Peace wing had been induced to come to
Chicago, with the idea that an uprising was imminent, and would no doubt
take place, when they would be able to repay themselves abundantly from
the property of our citizens. It is not strange therefore, that these half
starved, brutal wretches looked with evil eyes upon our National banks,
and hoped till the last that some lucky incident might occur which would
provoke an outbreak, and they would have an opportunity to pillage our
banks, stores and dwellings, but they were doomed to disappointment, and
with surly looks and threats of vengeance, left the city, resolved at a
future day to draw their pay, principle and interest, from our banks, and
we shall, in a future chapter, see the manifestation of the same spirit,
easily recognized as Peace wing democracy.



At a meeting of the Sons of Liberty in September, 1864, a plan was
reported, much to the relief of those who had a horror of conscription; it
was arranged that such of the members as might be drafted, should report
within three days to the Grand Senior of the Temple, and they would be
supplied with means to defray their expenses to the southern part of the
State, where they would remain till their services should be required, and
that they would find friends there, strong enough in numbers, to defy the
officers of the law. Such persons were to form military organizations, and
to be drilled and disciplined by rebel officers sent thither for that
express purpose. The "Sons" of Chicago expressed their extreme regret at
the very open and defiant manner of their brethren in the southern part of
the State, and believed that it would be prejudicial to the prosperity of
the Order. Our readers have not forgotten the Coles county tragedy, the
murderers and their victims. There is not a particle of doubt that those
murders were premeditated, and first the subject of discussion in the
temples of the Sons of Liberty. The assault was made without provocation,
and the thirst for the blood of Union men was the motive for the deed. We
have never advocated or countenanced mob law, but if there was ever a time
in the history of our government in which it was justifiable, it was in
the cases of the Coles county murderers. The times seemed, perhaps, to
have demanded a vigilance committee of citizens, who would administer
justice fast enough to suit the emergency of the cases upon which they
might be called to adjudicate, and having "cleaned out" the murderous
scoundrels in that locality, they might have found a demand for their
services in Chicago. But it is better that the people controlled their
just indignation and left it to time, to punish the infamous wretches who
turned their arms and their all against the country, to whom they are
indebted for all the blessings which they proved themselves to be utterly
incapable of appreciating. It was the boast of the "Sons" that their
numbers embraced many of the officers of our armies, and the names of
several were mentioned, who had sworn that they would never fire or order
their commands to fire upon "our Southern brethren," and it was added that
such officers could serve the cause of this order better in the field,
than in any other manner. As time passed on, the plans of the villains
belonging to the Chicago Temple, or the plans of the order throughout the
State for the attack upon Camp Douglas became more complete in their
details. The policy of obtaining positions for members upon all the
railroads and in telegraph offices, was very popular with the order, and
it was confidently stated, that upon the release of the prisoners the
leaders would at once take full possession of the railroads and telegraph
offices. It was arranged that the attack upon the camp should be made the
night after election, as it now became fully apparent to all that there
was not a shadow of a chance to elect either National or State ticket by
the Copperheads. Fires were to be kindled in different parts of the city,
and these were to be so numerous that they would necessarily divert the
attention of the citizens, while the attack should be made. Near the camp
is a growth of small oaks and other small wood which offered a fine
retreat or hiding place for those who would attack the camp. The attacking
party were to go singly or in groups which might not attract attention,
and when they were in readiness, they were suddenly to spring forward and
commence an assault simultaneously on three sides of the enclosure. The
risk to the invading party was not considered large, as the whole
undertaking would be but the work of a few moments, and it was confidently
believed that some communication could previously be established with the
rebels by their desperate friends and allies upon the outside; and it is
now quite certain that some intelligence was communicated to the rebels,
and well understood by them, as not long before the election, supposed
signals in the way of rockets, blue lights, &c. were at one time exhibited
by a small group of persons, without any apparent design, which could have
been distinctly seen at camp. Mrs. Morris, who has confessed her
complicity with the rebel sympathizers, was a frequent visitor to the
camp, and it was thought that she might be very useful in conveying
letters, messages, &c. Indeed it was morally certain that there was an
understanding between the rebels inside, and the cowardly dogs on the
outside of the post. It will be remembered that fire arms for at least ten
thousand men were safely and secretly stored in Chicago, and that there
was a perfect understanding between the members of the higher degrees of
the Sons of Liberty, and the leaders of the invading party from Canada;
Had the attack been made, however good the understanding between the
"Sons" and the rebels might have been, the former would soon have found,
to their surprise and to their dismay, that their glory would suddenly
have departed, for the released rebels would instantly have obeyed the
commands of their own officers, and Northern Sons of Liberty would have
been compelled to fall into line, whether they would or not. A few of the
Sons would have received some consideration, and this would especially
have been the case with Brig.-Gen. Charles Walsh, but in the main the
"accursed democracy,"--as one rebel writing to another was pleased to
speak of the order--was to be kept in the front, or in other words, used
as circumstances might require to do the vilest offices of this vile and
devilish conspiracy. As the time of the election was drawing near, the
Sons of Liberty expressed a wish to have a man at their head, in the place
of Wilkinson, who would command respect, and whose appearance of dignity
and years would impress new comers most favorably. This man was found in
Obadiah Jackson, Jr. Esq., as Grand Seignior, and so much gratified were
they with his peculiar fitness for this distinguished honor, that they
resolved to find a second officer, or Ancient Brother, and Lewis C.
Morrison gave place to a Mr. Hoffman. Things were now working smoothly,
new members were rapidly joining, and it was evident that the new
organization was most favorable for the growth and unity of the Order. The
rapidly increasing number of Temples in every part of the State, would
have been truly alarming to the friends of the Union. New comers were
introduced at every meeting, and large numbers were initiated at Judge
Morris' residence, where favored individuals were also initiated in the
mysteries of the higher degrees; so that there were hundreds of persons,
in good standing with the Order as bona fide members, who seldom or never
visited the lodge room; this was especially the case with the higher grade
of persons--the politicians, lawyers and others. At a meeting in the
autumn, Judge Morris was present and made a speech in response to the
request of several members, who asked information concerning the immediate
purposes of the Order. He spoke, as was his custom, of the tyranny of the
President; he said the rights of the people had been trampled upon, and
the constitution had been violated by him. He referred to the suspension
of the _habeas corpus_, and said many of our best men were at that moment
"rotting in Lincoln's bastiles;" that it was our duty to wage a war
against them, and open their doors; that when the Democrats got into power
they would impeach and probably hang him, and all who were thus
incarcerated should be set at liberty; that thousands of our best men were
prisoners in Camp Douglas, and if once at liberty would "send
abolitionists to hell in a hand basket;" he said the meanest of those
prisoners was purity itself compared to "Lincoln's hirelings." He added
that the tyranny of "Abraham the First" was fast drawing to a close, and
those who were anxious to fight, would not have to wait long. He also
spoke in favor of retaliation.

The Judge's speeches were always marked by vehemence, profanity and
violent gesticulation; he never spoke except to condemn the
administration, and to express his confidence in this Order to remedy all
the evils of the administration, and that we should very soon--"in sixty
days," have the power, and yet on several occasions he expressed the
belief that McClellan would not be elected. No one, not even the most
stupid in the first degree of the Temple, could fail to understand how the
Copperheads were to have the reins of the General Government in sixty
days, and yet that the party could not hope for success at the polls. A
man named William Hull, connected with the Order, rebuked such speeches in
unqualified terms, and as a consequence drew down upon himself the odium
of the Order. Mr. Hull expressed himself in favor of compliance with the


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