The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics - Vol. 1

By William Ernest Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
KANSAS-NEBRASKA: DRIFTING TOWARD CIVIL WAR

Policy may be virtuous as well as vicious.--PROVERB.

THE Blairs appeared to be quite happy in spite of their defeat which they suffered at the polls with Frémont. Montgomery informed Van Buren in February that "the old gentleman had fattened indeed this fall & winter & the result of the Election in nowise impairs his spirits-- He is inclined to think & in that I concur with him that the result of the campaign is in the main good & there is certainly better feeling in Washington at the moment than for years past." As to Buchanan's cabinet "the impression seems to be that he will not concede as much in that matter to our southern friends as they have desired. They are however very diligent."1Henry D. Gilpin, who had recently visited Rome, wrote to Van Buren that Blair of Silver Spring reminded him of the story of Cato and his farm. He looked younger by fifteen years and "time and agriculture have mellowed his asperities, so that he almost made me think a man might not be the worse in his old age from going back into the bustle of politics." Winsome "Betty," then known to her friends as the "Little Democrat," later told her son, Blair Lee, that her father and brothers were greatly disappointed in Frémont. They had believed him to be more capable than he was, and that he had written his own story of his adventures in the West. Their faith in his ability, however, was not fundamentally shaken until after the Civil War was running its course.

Other Republicans were not so sanguine as the Blairs. The future of the party looked dark. The Democratic press was jubilant over the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. At last it appeared that Slavocracy would triumph. Simon Cameron, now grown old and gray-haired, lamented the loss of

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1
Van Buren MSS. Feb. 5, 1857.

-398-

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