Fernando Wood: A Political Biography

By Jerome Mushkat | Go to book overview

TEN
Political Exile

P OLITICALLY isolated and suffering from an undisclosed illness, Wood might well have retired from politics to become a full-time real estate magnate. "Fernando is a played-out politician," the New York Herald prompted, and "we advise him to die gracefully." Wood, however, had no consciousness of guilt or error. He still believed that he could salvage his position by using the principles, hard work, and even deceit that had gotten him up the political ladder. The tasks were easier said than accomplished. By the time the Thirty-eighth Congress gathered for its second session on December 8, 1864, the prospect of a total Union victory had destroyed the Peace Democrats.1

Still, Wood pushed ahead. The previous November, he had responded to rumors that Lincoln and Davis were planning a peace conference by asking the president to select one person "from my wing of the Democratic party." Wood's purpose was to allow at least moderate Peace Democrats some dignity by proving that peace and reunion retained some validity. Gone was Lincoln's need to disrupt the Democracy by encouraging Wood, and he did not bother to answer. With that avenue blocked, Wood sought another means of personal absolution by reviving the politics of loyalty. On January 31, 1865, he introduced a resolution that the president was correct to employ every legal and constitutional means to maintain the Republic. Moreover, Lincoln must not "proffer or accept negotiations" that would recognize "by the remotest implication the existence of any other Federal or Confederate Government within the territory of the United States." Although the House approved it against extremist Peace Democratic opposition, Wood gained no plaudits from either his party or the public. In February, Wood tried again. He made a stunning reversal and voted with prowar groups, 108 to 30, to prevent die-hard Peace Democrats from tabling a resolution congratulating Lincoln for opening peace negotiations leading to "the restoration of the Union" at the Hampton Roads conference.2

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Fernando Wood: A Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • One - The Beginning 1
  • Two - Foundations 13
  • Three - First Victory 31
  • Four - The Model Mayor 41
  • Five - The Political Mayor 63
  • Six - The Southern Candidate 82
  • Seven - The Southern Mayor 98
  • Eight - The Politics of Loyalty 116
  • Nine - The Peace Democrat 133
  • Ten - Political Exile 152
  • Eleven - The Politics of Frustration 170
  • Twelve - Congressional Leader 190
  • Thirteen - An Uncertain Majority 221
  • Fourteen - The Man and His Career 243
  • ABBREVIATIONS USED IN NOTES 248
  • Notes 249
  • Bibliography 293
  • Index 313
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