Sunday, July 7, 2013

Yeaman's Good Fight but Losing Battle

Back last November I posted about Kentucky Congressman George Yeaman, who was featured in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln movie. In that post I mentioned that Yeaman was a lame-duck representative, however, at that time, I did not realize that he ran again in the summer 1865. The article to the left from the August 22, 1865, issue of the Louisville Weekly Journal mentioned that he was defeated in that election largely due to his support of the 13th Amendment and his district's citizens' opposition to it and any other thing the federal government supported.

The Journal was a Unionist paper, edited by George Prentice, who was wise enough to see slavery's death on the horizon and supported the 13th Amendment. Therefore the article is slanted in that direction. It is interesting that the article mentions that it was believed that there was more animosity and rebellious feeling in Yeaman's district toward the Government and the amendment than in secession-leading South Carolina or Virginia, the state that held the former capital of the Confederacy. The story claims that "Many of them are fools enough to think that slavery can be restored, and all of them would like to see the Government in more trouble."

It is difficult to truly tell, due to the partisanship of the newspaper reporting, but the story claims that Yeaman was proud of his "advocacy of the amendment." Although it cost him his political future, he sowed the seeds of the official end of slavery, and "he would most cheerfully do the same thing again, even if the labor and sacrifice were much greater."

The last sentence is somewhat unclear to me. The "party that in the near future will sweep everything before it," surely was not the Republican Party. I can not see the old Whig, turned Know-Nothing, turned conservative Unionist Prentice unreservedly supporting its policies. Likely, he was referring to a conservative yet progressive opposition party.

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