MARCH 2020

MARCH   2020
The Lawyers Carve Up the Golden Goose


Saturday, October 15, 2016


I have a theory about politics, and it goes like this: each generation fights its father's battles. The prime example of this turns out to be conspiracy’s step-child, Richard Milhouse Nixon. After his two brothers died of tuberculosis, “Tricky Dick” became an over achiever riddled by survivor's guilt who inherited his father's inferiority complex and explosive temper along with his mother's stoic martyrdom in the face of her husband's violence. I shall now pause for a round of applause from all amateur psychologists reading this blog. But to go a step further - this oversimplification explains how the only President forced to resign could still insist, long after the Watergate scandal brought him down, that “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal”. But does that also apply to what you do to win the office? 
In 1968 there were half a million Americans draftees fighting in South Vietnam. The 12 year war had already killed 30,000 Americans, almost as many as died in the Korean War. Three hundred more Americans were dying every week.  And every week the Pentagon was spending $1.5 billion on a war President Lyndon Johnson was belatedly trying to end. The complication was that 1968 was also a Presidential election year. The war had grown so unpopular that in March, Johnson had withdrawn from the election, removing himself as an issue. And despite the blood and treasure spent in Vietnam by their party, the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, still held a slim lead in the polls over the likely Republican challenger, one time Vice-President Richard Nixon.
On Friday, 10 May, 1968 North Vietnam and the United States began secret talks in a Paris hotel on the Avenue Kleber (pronounced clay-bear). The first difficult issue to be decided was the shape of the table, because it really should have been three party talks. South Vietnamese President, Nguyen Van Thieu (above), had gambled his life, and the lives of everyone he loved, on defeating the communist Viet Minh guerrillas, controlled by North Vietnam. That struggle had so far cost South Vietnam over 100,000 military, and close to 200,000 civilian deaths. Thieu and his supporters had earned a place at the table in Paris. President Johnson wanted them there. But North Vietnam stubbornly refused to recognize Thieu's government, or even sit down at any shaped negotiating table with them. And Thieu agreed. He was worried the Americans might compromise him into a corner, allowing the communists to easily take power once the Americans left.
On Sunday, 12 July, 1968 another secret meeting took place, this one in Richard Nixon's 39th floor suite at the Pierre Hotel, just off Fifth Avenue on East 61st Street, in Manhattan. Nixon's co-hosts were his closest adviser John Mitchell, and Republican activist and unofficial leader of the Taiwan anti-communist lobby, Anna Chennault . The single guest, brought there by Mrs. Chennault, was the South Vietnamese ambassador to the United States, Bui Diem.  Both Chennault and Diem have left accounts of the meeting, at which Nixon assured Diem the South Vietnamese would get “better treatment from me than under the Democrats,” and that “his staff would be in touch with (Diem) through...Anna Chennault.”
Anna was the widow of American Lieutenant General Claire Chennault, commander of the “volunteer” Flying Tigers, American flyers who battled Japanese bombers over China before Pearl Harbor. After the war the general had set up the Flying Tiger Line, an air transport service based in Taiwan, and bankrolled by the CIA. When the 65 year old general died of lung cancer in 1958, he left his 33 year old widow a multimillionaire. She was brilliant in her own right, and a constant supporter of the man who had actually “lost” China to the communists, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Under Eisenhower, “The Dragon Lady” had become a powerful Republican fundraiser. Her sole drawback, in Nixon's own words,  was that, “she's a chatterbox.”
After the secret meeting in the Pierre, Diem became a regular at parties Anna hosted in her Penthouse in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. And she became a regular in Saigon, capital of South Vietnam. There she talked directly with President Thieu. What they talked about is not recorded, but Thieu began to take a harder line regarding the now weekly secret Paris talks. Nixon was aware of the lack of progress in Paris, thanks to Bryce Harklow, an Eisenhower aide and self described “double agent”, who had stayed on through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. And as the election approached. Harlow told Nixon, Johnson was planning an “October Surprise” and a “Halloween Peace”, to help make Humphrey  President. Nixon had no doubt it was true, thanks to his other mole, Professor Henry Kissinger.
Since he was very smart, as far back as 1966 Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger (right, above) became convinced any military victory in South Vietnam would prove useless, unless it also produced “a political reality that could survive our ultimate withdrawal”.  Because of this he helped start the two party Paris talks.  But he was also intensely ambitious, and in August, when the North Vietnamese ordered their troops in the two northern provinces of South Vietnam to stand down, Kissinger warned Nixon (left, above) that the war might be coming to an abrupt end, thus invalidating Nixon's twin campaign ads of “Peace With Honor”, and “Nixon's The One” - the who would end the war. John Mitchel immediately called Anna Channault (center, above).
Anna said latter that Mitchell called her “almost every day” that summer,, always with the same message – don't let Thieu go to Paris.  In her autobiography Anna explained, “My job was to hold him back..”  Negotiations with North Vietnam might be part of Kissinger's “political reality”, but Anna assured the “Little Dictator” (above), that Nixon would secure a better peace for South Vietnam. She later wrote “Throughout October 1968 Thieu tried to delay... as long as possible to buy time for Nixon.”  Thieu would later tell Ambassador Diem that “a Humphrey victory would mean a coalition government in six months.” And, of course, an end to the war.
But Johnson (above) had heard hints of Nixon's back channel, from Florida Democratic Senator George Smathers, who was friends with both Johnson and Nixon. And the President was also warned about a stock tip being offered by Wall Street money man and Nixon supporter, Alexander Sachs. Sachs was quoted by Walt Rostow as saying a quick peace was unlikely because Nixon would,
“incite Saigon to be difficult and Hanoi to wait.”  In response Johnson ordered the National Security Agency and legendary director of the F.B.I,  J. Edgar Hoover, to bug his own government, including ambassador to South Vietnam, Ellsworth Bunker, and the Nixon campaign's leadership. Hoover won the race for the dirt, quickly producing a call on Bunker's private phone from Anna Channault, who urged the ambassador to tell Thieu to “Just hang on through the election.”
Finally, on 31 October, 1968, Johnson announced on national television that because of recent conciliatory moves by North Vietnam (the stand down in the northern provinces), he was halting American bombing.  Johnson also went public about the Paris peace talks, next to be held the day after the American election. But he was able to announce only that South Vietnam was “free to participate” in the talks as well. Two days earlier, President Thieu had informed Johnson that he would absolutely not be attending the Paris talks, relying instead on Nixon's promise of a better deal after his victory in November.
Two days later, on 2 November, Johnson called the Republican Senate Minority Leader, gravel voiced Everett Dirkson. The recording of that call is in the L.B.J. Presidential Library. On the tape Johnson quoted from Anna Channault's call to Bunker, so Dirkson would have no doubt he had the evidence. He then told the Republican, “They oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.” Dirkson replied, “I know,.” and promised to call Nixon. Johnson then brutally drove his point home. “They’re contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war...and if they don’t want it on the front pages, they better quit it.”
A day later, Nixon called Johnson and smoothly lied. He assured Johnson, concerning sabotage of the Paris peace talks,  “There’s absolutely no credibility as far as I’m concerned.”  But unknown to Nixon it was caught on tape by the National Security Agency. The NSA also had a recording of a phone call between Republican Vice Presidential candidate Spiro Agnew and Ann Channaut discussing her lobbying of Thieu. With still 2 days before the election, Johnson might have released some or all of those recordings. After conversations with his staff he decided not to do so, because it would taint the credibility of whoever won the election.  For the good of the nation, Johnson kept his mouth shut.
Nixon won the Tuesday, 5 November, 1968 popular vote by just over 500,000 – about 0.7%,, but he took the electoral college decisively, with 31 votes to spare, 301 to 191 for Humphrey,  During November and December, despite pleadings from Johnson to push Thieu to come to Paris, Anna Channaut kept up reassuring The South Vietnamese President to hold out until Nixon took the oath of office in January.  Once elected, President Richard Nixon did begin withdrawing American troops, but he also funded an increase in the South Vietnamese Army, from 800,000 in 1968, to a high of 110,000 in 1973 – just before their collapse in the face of a North Vietnamese offensive. What happened in 1973 was Watergate, a scandal which increasingly consumed Nixon's time and political power. And that started with the failed Watergate break in on 17 June, 1971
On that day the White House recording system heard President Richard Nixon ask his chief-of-staff “Bob” Halderman a simple question:”Do we have it?”  He had ordered the break in of the Democratic headquarters, searching for Lyndon Johnson's copy of Anna Channault and Spiro Agnew's phone calls from the fall of 1968. He was worried it might be released to defeat that his re-election in  November of 1972. And when Halderman hinted there might be a copy at the Brookings Institute on Long Island, Nixon ordered, “Goddammit, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.” Two weeks later, still demanding action from his wary staff, Nixon told Halderman, “Talk to Hunt. I want the break-in.” And thus began a two year search, largely conducted by ex-CIA agent E. Howard Hunt and his “Plumbers” unit, to find the record of Richard Nixon's duplicity on the Vietnam War, and failing that, to collect dirt on anyone who might have the file, such as Daniel Ellsberg, the source of the “Pentagon Papers”, and a logical repository for that tape . But the tape and Johnson's files were no longer in any of the places Nixon was looking.
Just before he left the White House, Lyndon Johnson had entrusted the file to Walt Rostow, who kept it with his personal papers. Rostow knew what was in the file. And when the Watergate scandal took flame over the summer of 1973, he wrote a memorandum (above) to be included in the file, and then wrote on the cover, “Top Secret. To be opened by the Director, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, not earlier than fifty (50) years from this date, June 26, 1973.”  But the library waited only twenty years, and then began the protracted process of declassifying the contents. That took another twenty years, before the great question of the Watergate scandal was finally answered  - why did Nixon send a collection of ex-CIA Cuban-Americans into the DNC headquarters on 17 June, 1972?  And the answer was; the 27,257 Americans who died in Vietnam, the tens of thousands of wounded who suffered during the 5 years Richard Nixon kept the war going for his personal benefit.
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Thursday, October 13, 2016


“If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?”
Will Rogers
I find it curious that Charlie Humphrey Keating Jr (above) spent his adult life crusading against pornography, which he called a “Perversion for Profit”. At the same time he saw no perversion in profiting from duping naive investors, even telling his sales agents, “...the weak, meek and ignorant are always good targets.” Charlie did not invent hypocrisy, nor the investment scam, nor even political graft. But when asked if he had bought five U.S. Senators, Charlie responded forcefully, “I certainly hope so.” It was Charlie's sociopathic self-serving arrogance which made him famously wealthy and infamously despised. And then Charlie got his hands on a bank.
A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.”
Will Rogers
Once upon a time in America there were two kinds of banks, commercial banks, with few restrictions on their investments, and “Savings and Loans”. Federal regulations kept S&L's the dull, cautious bedrock of private home ownership. But even real estate suffers the boom and bust of capitalism, better known as the “business cycle”. So politicians, following an ideology of greed, created the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980, which among other things, lifted the limit S&L's were allowed to invest in things other than homes. In the decade after, S&L's went from 53% of their money being in home loans, to less than 30%. Seeking profit Savings and Loan bankers then invented the Certificate of Deposit, or CD's, which allowed them to pay higher interest rates and compete with commercial banks for investors. But paying higher interest rates meant each new customer also cost more. In the world of academic economics this is known as an “asset-liability mismatch”. In Charlie Keating's world this was known as a business opportunity.
“Don't gamble. Take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.”
Will Rogers
Charlie had arrived in Phoenix, Arizona  (above) in 1976, having been chased out of Cincinnati, Ohio by the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Once in town he proceeded to duplicate the behavior which had gotten him into trouble in Ohio, metamorphosing a faltering home construction company into American Continental Corporation, a holding company with maze of 54 divisions (and a few secret overseas operations), $6 billion in assets, 2,500 employees and a couple of corporate jets. When federal regulators started sniffing around Charlie even got economics guru Alan Greenspan to write him a letter of recommendation. Forbes Magazine, although impressed with Charlie's explosive growth, noted, “It seems almost impossible to find anyone who actually likes Charlie Keating.” His own brother admitted that Charlie was impatient and aggressive - but he left out, greedy. And then in 1980, Ronald Reagan won the White House, and geed became “good”, and deregulation, such as DIDMCA, became the mantra of the day. In 1984, Charlie used American Continental to buy Lincoln Savings Bank of California, for $51 million. He fired the management wholesale, and converted it into his personal bank.
“Big business don’t go broke any more. The minute it looks bad for them, they combine with something else and issue more stock.”
Will Rogers
Three years later an audit by three investigators for the San Francisco office of the Federal Home Loan Banks Board found that Lincoln had unreported losses of $135 million, and had exceeded the new looser limit on risky investments by $600 million. But what Charlie had learned from his first run-in with financial regulators back in Ohio was that it paid to have friends in high places. He had made over $1 million in political contributions to five U.S. Senators – Alan Cranston (D-Ca), Dennis DeConcini (D-Az), John McCain (R-Az), John Glenn (D-Ohio) and Donald Riegle (D-Michigan). Charlie now insisted that his “Keating Five” have a joint sit down with the three investigators from the FHLBB.
“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate. Now, what's going to happen to us, with both a House and a Senate?”
Will Rogers
On Thursday, 19 April, 1987, the investigators were flown to Washington to be intimidated by the five senators in person. DeConcini explained that “Our friend at a big employer and important to the local economy.” Former Astronaut and former Marine, Senator John Glenn, had little patience for such niceties. “To be blunt”, he told the bureaucrats,. “You should charge them (Lincoln Savings) or get off their backs.” The regulators worked up the courage to explain that it appeared money was being siphoned out of Lincoln to fuel false profits at American Continental. That converted their audit into a criminal investigation. The Senators backed off and rushed to tell Charlie.
“There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators.”
Will Rogers
Charlie was not happy "his" senators had not shut down the investigation. . He even called Senator John McCain a “whimp” to his face, and went looking for politicians more willing to do his bidding. When the San Francisco regulators persisted in recommending that Lincoln Savings be seized, the Reagan administration appointed a new head of the FHLBB, who forgave Lincoln for any past violations and started a brand new audit, this time run from Washington, D.C., where it could be controlled.  Charlie always said if they just relaxed the rules, the Savings and Loan industry could be “the biggest moneymaker in the world.”
“A lobbyist is a person that is supposed to help a politician make up his mind—not only help him but pay him.”
Will Rogers
It was at this point that the tellers at Lincoln Savings were ordered to begin pushing their customers to switch their savings from insured CD's to the uninsured American Continental bonds. Twenty -three thousand eventually fell for this sales pitch. Thanks to the delay in moving against him, Charlie had now bypassed the bank entirely. He was siphoning cash directly out of the customers' pockets into his. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Seidman would later call this “one of the most heartless and cruel frauds in modern memory.”
“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”
Will Rogers
By December of 1988, even the bought politicians had become convinced Charlie was a fraudster. In January they finally ordered him to stop transferring money out of Lincoln savings. Three months later, both American Continental and Lincoln Savings and Loan went bankrupt, and those 23,000 dupes, who on the advice of the tellers and managers at their neighborhood bank, had invested $288 million in uninsured Lincoln bonds, lost it all. Among the many suicides this crime produced, was that of Anthony Elliott, who slit his wrists after losing his life savings - $200,000 – to feed Charlie's ego. Anthony's Thanksgiving Day 1990 note asked, “My government is supposed to serve and protect, but who?" He then answered himself, writing, "Those who can gather the most savings from retired people. . . . It takes billions to fill the pockets of spend-o-crats”.
“I tell you folks, all politics is applesauce.”
Will Rogers
The FDIC had to shell out 3.4 billion in tax payer dollars to cover the insured part of Charlie's looting of Lincoln Savings. Finally, in December of 1991, the state of California convicted Charlie of 17 counts of fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy. In January 1993, the feds convicted him of 73 counts of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy.  In 1994 the Resolution Trust Corporation, which had been created to clean up the Reagan deregulation mess, won the largest judgement against a private person in American history - $4.3 billion, against Charlie Keating.  Still, somehow, after serving just 4 ½ years in jail, Charlie Keating was released, free and clear.  As the authors of the 1993 book wondered, "He did not simply rob a bank, he broke it with his dreams... If he (was) such a devout communicant of his faith, why did he peddle hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of junk bonds to old people when he knew his empire was in serious jeaopardy?"  After living with his daughter in Phoenix, Arizona for a few years, Charlie went back into businss. Successfully. He died in March of 2014, still convinced that if the government had just left him alone, all his investors, even Anthony Elliot, would have been rich.
“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
Will Rogers
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I know that Abraham Lincoln read Shakespeare, which makes the events at the Illinois Republican state convention in Decatur on May 9, 1860, so revealing. Three times the 22 delegates demanded that Lincoln “identify your work!”, and three times their nominee refused to claim the boards supporting his campaign banners had come from logs he himself had split. Like Julius Caesar three times refusing the crown of a Roman king, each display of modesty drove the crowd into a greater frenzy. It was this invention of “Lincoln The Railspitter” which marked “Honest Abe” as a real contender for the Presidential nomination, one week later at the Republican National Convention. Clearly, Abraham was prepared to perform exactly the kind of theatrics required in politics.
Just a year earlier Lincoln appeared to have given up any Presidential ambitions. In March of 1859 he had written a friend, “Seriously, I do not think I am fit for the Presidency.” But two events in early 1860, changed his mind. First, at the end of February, Lincoln gave a speech at the prestigious New York City private college, the Cooper Union. His arguments against slavery were reprinted in newspapers across the north and positively received. And secondly, in the last week of April the Democratic Party convention in Charleston adjourned after 57 ballots, unable to agree on a nominee. With Democrats splitting into three wings, the young Republican party had a chance to win the November election.
Senator William Seward was the presumptive Republican nominee. At 70 members, his own New York delegation was the largest. The dour NYC banker and merchant Edwin Morgan (above), also a Seward man,   was the Republican Party National Chairman. And the crafty Thurlow Weed, “The Wizard of the Lobby”, who had helped build Seward's reputation for more than two decades, was in Chicago. Even eight members of the Illinois delegation were suspected of preferring Seward to Lincoln. Chairman Morgan had even chosen the city of 100,000 on the lake as a bribe for Illinois Party Chairman Norman Judd., as was the tempting offer to name Judd, Seward's nominee for Vice President.
All that Lincoln had to offer was himself, but for a few that was enough. Their leader was the imposing Judge David Davis (above). He had presided over the Illinois Eighth Circuit Court, deciding almost 90 cases lawyered by Lincoln. And although he decided only forty in Lincoln's favor, Davis trusted the younger man enough to ask him to substitute as judge occasionally. Davis described Lincoln as “a peculiar man; he never asked my advice on any question.” 
But when new lawyer Leonard Swett joined the circuit, he was introduced to Davis and Lincoln, dressed in their nightshirts, as they engaged in a boisterous pillow fight. Sett became Lincoln's most trusted friend. Also working for the prairie lawyer was Lincoln's longtime law partner, the big, jovial hard drinking Virginian born, Ward Lamon (above).
Judge Davis was an abolitionist. Lamon's family owned slaves and he hated abolitionists. Swett (above) preferred a good fight, a guitar and a jug of whiskey over politics. This diverse group, along with dozens of like minded others, sacrificed their time and money to win the nomination for Lincoln. 
They started late, having to beg families to give up their rooms at the Tremont hotel (above). Davis spent $700 out of his own pocket, and more for whiskey and food, but on the Friday, four days before the convention opened, the Lincoln men were headquartered at the Tremont, ready to the seduce the arriving delegates . Said Swett,  “I did not, the whole week I was there, sleep two hours a night.”
The delegates arrived by foot and horseback, carried on lake steamers or the dozen rail lines serving Chicago - 10,000 delegates, alternates, reporters and spectators, all converging five blocks from the Tremont, at a two story, 5,000 square foot timber building which had not existed five weeks earlier. They called the $6,000 structure “The Wigwam” (above). 
Writer Isaac Hill Bromley described the scene, “The stage proper (left) was of sufficient capacity to hold all the delegates, who were seated on either side of a slightly elevated dais...
 The galleries were reserved (FG)...the miscellaneous public (center)...four or five thousand stood in the aisles and all the available unoccupied space....the delegates could be seen from all parts of the auditorium...Something of convenience was sacrificed to dramatic effect. The convention was just then ‘The greatest show on earth.”
There were just 465 voting delegates from 24 states, and the District of Columbia. As they arrived, but especially the delegates from the four swing states that would likely carry the November election,  Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, they were met and courted by agents representing Seward, Lincoln and a half dozen other “favorite son” candidates. The Seward men,  headquartered in the upscale Richmond House, were particularly blunt in their tactics. Before the convention had even started, on Tuesday, 15 May, the Illinois delegation was offered a campaign chest of $100,000 for the fall, if they would vote for Lincoln as Seward's Vice President. The same offer was made to the Indiana delegation, and New Jersey. It was an attempt to derail Lincoln, and win the nomination for Seward on the first ballot. But it backfired. Illinois party chief Norman Judd felt betrayed. When the convention opened the next day at ten minutes after noon, Judd threw his full support behind Lincoln.
The 54 members of the Pennsylvania delegation were pledged to vote for their “favorite son”, Senator Simon Cameron (above) on the first ballot. Cameron, meanwhile had assured Thurlow Weed he would sell his delegation for a cabinet post, and Seward expected to win the nomination on the second or third ballot. In fact almost half of Cameron's delegation hated him so much, they were secretly prepared to vote for anybody else. The only question was for who? 
In another sign Thurlow Weed had over played his hand, the dapper Illinois party chairman Norman Judd (above) managed to isolate the New York delegation in the back of the hall, and seated the Keystone delegates between the Indiana and Illinois delegations – 22 and 26 delegates each– where Illinois Lieutenant Governor Gustave Koerner and Indiana Gubernatorial candidate Caleb Smith could reminded the Pennsylvanians that Lincoln was an alternative to Seward and Cameron.
Missouri's delegate's were pledged to vote for Representative Edward Bates (above), despite his being an unrepentant Know Nothing, who despised Catholics and foreigners - such as the German Catholics in St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati.  
Bates was being marketed by the owner and editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley (above). Even tho the newspaperman had never been west of Iowa, Greeley was an Oregon delegate, and would deliver Oregon's 8 votes, along with Missouri's 18, to Bates because Greeley was convinced Seward was too radical to carry the swing states - Ohio's 48 delegates were pledged to support Salomen P. Chase, who was even openly opposed to slavery, and therefore even more un-electable, than Seward. 
Seward's perceived radicalism also worried party leaders in Maine and Massachusetts – 16 and 26 delegates respectively. The New York Senator (above, right) had told the truth, that democracy and slavery were in "irrepressible conflict",  just as Lincoln had said "a house divided against itself, can not stand". But Seward told his truth in 1858, on the senate floor, and earned the hatred of Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis (above, left). The perception was that Seward was the radical. So the New Engenders had already reached a quiet deal with most of the delegates from Pennsylvania and Ohio to jointly, after the first ballot, abandon their favorite sons and support somebody, anybody, but Seward. The only question was, who?. The name that kept coming up was Lincoln. 
Although he had been a favorite son candidate at the 1856 convention, Lincoln was still an unknown quantity to most of the delegates But thanks to Judge Davis' strategy, he had become, the convention's second choice. If they couldn't have Seward, or Bates, or Chase, then the vast majority of delegates was willing to nominate Lincoln. But to strengthen that argument, Judge Davis figured Lincoln had to get at least 100 votes on the first ballot, just under half way to the 233 needed to win the nomination.
It is true that Lincoln telegraphed from Springfield, warning Judge Davis that he would not make political compromises to become President. But years later Chicago Attorney Wirt Dexter suggested that Davis was guilty of the same sin he had accused Thurlow Weed of - offering duplicate rewards to politicians from several delegations. “You must have prevaricated somewhat”, suggested Dexter. To which Judge Davis shouted in his high pitched voice, “PREVARICATED, Brother Dexter? We lied like hell!”
On Friday, as the temperature and emotions inside and outside the Wigwam climbed, Thurlow Weed pulled a final rabbit out of his hat - retired bare knuckle champion, Tom Hyer (above). The 6'2”, 185 pound boxer earned his living as an enforcer for William “Bill The Butcher” Poole, leader of a notorious five points gang, until Bill was shot and killed in an 1855 bar fight. 
The now 41 year old Hyer was reduced to a Know Nothing celebrity thug, and this Friday was leading a brass band and 2,000 New York “pug-ugly” Seward (above) supporters, marching to the Wigwam, singing “Oh, isn't he a dar-ling! With his grace-ful ways,. And his eye so gay. Yes, he's a lit-tle dar-ling. To me he is di-vine. He loves me too, with a heart so true. This charming beau of mine.” 
It was an impressive and enthusiastic parade, until Hyer and his iron voiced shouters reached the convention hall, where their way was blocked by a crowd of perhaps 25,000. When they finally worked their way to the doors and presented their tickets, they were denied entrance to the Wigwam. The spectator gallery, even the standing space between the aisles was already full. And every person inside and outside had a ticket. .
The man responsible for this feat of legerdemain was Lincoln's hard drinking Virginian troubadour,.Ward Lamon (above). He had printed up several thousand counterfeit tickets for the Wigwam, and the Lincoln supporters had presented their forgeries at 9 a.m., flooding the building an hour before the Tom Hyer's men had arrived. The Seward forces made desperate calls for the Sargent-at-arms to check spectator tickets, but given that the day before Judge Davis had charged the Seward forces with handing out counterfeits, and that the building was crammed almost to bursting, the functionaries decided not to get involved in the infighting. Besides, the real battle was on the stage, among the delegates.
When Lincoln's name was placed in Nomination, the screaming was so loud the Wigwam’s windows trembled “as if they had been pelted with hail.” Said Swettt, “Five thousand people leaped to their seats, women not wanting...A thousand steam whistles, ten acres of hotel gongs, a tribe of Comanches might have mingled in the scene unnoticed.” On the first ballot, Seward (being thrown overboard) led as expected,. with 173 votes. But Lincoln (at the stern) was second with 102 votes. Cameron got 50 of Pennsylvania’s 54 votes, just ahead of Ohio's Salomen Chase's 49 votes. The best that Horace Greeley's (right of Lincoln) candidate Edward Bates (right of Greeley)  could collect was 48, with 8 other favorite sons getting less than 14 each.
Immediately Lincoln's men moved for a second ballot, before Thurlow Weed (above) could get the attention of the chairman, or could reach out to sway delegates. At the same time Judge Davis managed to solidify a deal with the the sleazy Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, agreeing to make him Lincoln's Secretary of War. In fact the Pennsylvania delegates had already agreed to bolt for Lincoln, and on the second ballot Weed gained 11 votes for Seward, but Lincoln gained 79, most of those coming at the expense of Cameron and Bates.
Seward's fate was sealed on the third ballot. He lost 4 votes. Lincoln gained another 50 votes, most coming from Maryland, Kentucky and Virginia. The Rail Splitter was now just one vote away from the nomination. The Wigwam erupted in shouting, cheering and cursing, until the chairman of the Ohio delegation, David Cartter, got the chairman's attention, and stuttered, “I-I arise, Mr. Chairman, to a-announce the ch-change of four votes, from Mr. Chase to Abraham Lincoln!” .
Writer Bromley observed the pandemonium as delegation after delegation clamored for the Chairman's attention to shift their votes to Lincoln “On the platform near me...the Indiana men generally were smashing hats and hugging each other; the Illinois men did everything except stand on their heads; hands were flying wildly in the air, everybody’s mouth was open, and bedlam seemed loose. The din of it was terrific. Seen from the stage it seemed to be twenty thousand mouths in full blast…” The final count for the official third ballot gave Lincoln 364 votes. Lincoln had won.
Buckeye newspaperman Murate Halsted disagreed. “The fact of the Convention was the defeat of Seward rather than the nomination of Lincoln.” That may have been true in May of 1860, perhaps even in March of 1861 when Lincoln took the oath of office as President. 
But on January 1st, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation became law, Lincoln became more than a mere politician, more than a mere victor. He achieved the potential that diverse group of men from the 8th Circuit Court had seen in Lincoln, the reason they had sacrificed and worked,to make him president, not because he could be, but because they knew he should be.

On that Friday evening, some of the delegates who had just voted to nominate Abraham Lincoln, were lining up out side of McVicker's Theater, to see Tom Taylor's two year old play, “Our American Cousin” (above). In one month short of five years, Abraham Lincoln would finally see the play, at Ford's Theater in Washington, the night he was murdered. And in 1869 the Wigwam burned down
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