Organs out of Tune
The 1868 presidential campaign was beyond all question the most venomous, scurrilous, and misleading--since the last one. A dispassionate observer would have seen merits in both parties' nominees. On the Republican side stood General Ulysses S. Grant, defender of the Union; on the Democratic, former governor Horatio Seymour of New York, defender of civil liberty.
Finding a dispassionate observer would have been virtually impossible. "We must have the victory, or the country is lost," a senator wrote. So thought thousands less highly placed. Great issues were at stake: should the Republican effort to remake the South on the basis of equal rights be abandoned? how liberally, how literally, should Congress and president interpret their powers under the Constitution? on what terms should onetime Confederates share political power? Lit by flaring torch- lights, the procession banners caught the mood: "We Go for Seymour as We Went for Lee," "U. S. G.--the Tanner of Rebels," "Let all good men vote no nigger," "Our Symbol is Peace, not the Sword." 1
Muddling the debate was an incredible array of insults and conjectures propa