Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Gangrened instigators of rebellion"

Indiana Republican Oliver P. Morton could wave the bloody shirt with the best of them. In his enjoyable and (for me) informative By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876, Michael F. Holt gives us a taste of Morton's talents:
Although the crippled Morton needed two canes to hobble around and could give speeches only while seated, he was a master of bloody-shirt oratory. . . . The Democratic Party, he told his adoring Republican audience [in a speech in Indianapolis] on August 11 [1876], consists of "hungry cormorants, long-deterred expectants, gangrened instigators of rebellion, the Northern sympathizers who trod the narrow isthmus between open treason and resistance to the Government fighting for its life, the slave drivers who have lost their occupation, and the innumerable caravan of dead-beats and adventurers." Anyone who believed that this crowd favored reform, Morton deadpanned, "must indeed be the most hopeless of idiots."


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