North Carolina’s James C. Dobbin served as a delegate to the convention at Baltimore to nominate Democratic candidates for president and vice-president in 1856. He was elected chairman of the North Carolina delegation and saw Franklin Pierce as the best choice to maintain sectional harmony in the Union.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Trying To Save the Union
“It was apprehended that the convention would adjourn in confusion, and without any nomination. At this crisis Mr. Dobbin arose, and in a modest, unobstrusive manner, and with matchless eloquence, spoke as follows:
“Mr. President: Pardon me for obtruding one word before North Carolina casts her vote. We came to pander to no factions artifices here, to enlist under no man’s banner at the hazard of principle; to embark in no crusade to prostrate any aspirant for the sake of sectional or personal triumph. We came here to select one of the army of noble spirits in our ranks to be our leader and champion in the glorious struggle for the great principles of democracy.
Again, and again, have we tendered the banner to the North, Save our happy Union, guard well the rights of the States, say we, and you can have the honor of the standard bearer. Zealously and sincerely have we presented the name of [President James] Buchanan, the noble son of the Key Stone State, around whom the affections of our hearts have so long clustered.
We have turned to the Empire State, New York, and sought to honor one of her distinguished sons. We now feel that in the midst of discord and destruction, the olive branch, if tendered once more, cannot be refused. We feel the hour now has come when the spirit of strife must be banished, and the mild, gentler and holier spirit of patriotism reign in its stead!
Come then, Mr. President, let us go to the altar and make sacrifices for our beloved country. We now propose, with other friends, the name of one who was in the field just long enough to prove himself a gallant soldier, and who was long enough in the councils of the nation to demonstrate that he is a statesman of the strong mind and honest heart; who has exhibited in the career of legislation, that he knew the rights of the South, while he respected those of the North, as well as of the East and the West; whose principles of democracy are as solid and enduring as the granite hills of his own New Hampshire native land — General Franklin Pierce.
“Come, friends and brothers, let us strike hands now; now for harmony and conciliation, and save our cherished principles and our beloved country.”
(Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, John H. Wheeler, www.docsouth.unc.edu)