The Expulsion of Senator Jesse Bright

By Ethan Lewis

©1994 All Rights Reserved

During the 1860's, as the sectional crises that had sundered Americans politically for years exploded into a civil war between North and South, many northern politicians continued to practice politics as usual. Contrary to calls for "the patriotic of all classes [to] unite in invoking ...a spirit of [political] harmony" in the union, partisanship continued to flourish. This partisanship included efforts to purge government of elected Democratic officials who were deemed to be unsympathetic to the goals and policies of the dominant Republican Party. A common method of neutralizing opponents was to label them disloyal, a charge which is naturally highly serious during wartime. In a time when "political vituperation" reached heights much more severe than that of the late twentieth century, disloyalty charges showed a level of hostility which is nearly unfathomable to modern audiences.1

This paper deals with the case of Democratic Senator Jesse D. Bright, of Indiana, who was expelled from his seat on a charge of disloyalty. This case has not been studied much by historians, and even those who have studied it misapprehend the specifics of the case.2   During the debate over the charges Bright was subjected to a concerted attack by a cohort of mostly Republican senators who accused him of treason, and impugned his morals, his integrity and his intellect. Republicans desired Bright's expulsion because he was a senior Democrat whose opposition to government policies was unshakable. The expulsion process ruined Bright's career in national politics, and provides an excellent window to the past for historians searching for the intersection between patriotism and political character assassination in the Civil War Senate.

On December 16, 1861, Senator Morton Wilkinson of Minnesota submitted the following motion:

Whereas Hon. Jesse D. Bright heretofore on the first day of March, 1861, wrote a letter, of which the following is a copy:

Washington, March 1, 1861

My Dear Sir: Allow me to introduce to your acquaintance my friend Thomas B. Lincoln, of Texas. He visits your capital mainly to dispose of what he regards a great improvement in fire‑arms. Irecommend him to your favorable consideration as a gentleman ofthe first respectability, and reliable in every respect.

Very truly yours,

Jesse D. Bright

To his Excellency Jefferson Davis

President of the Confederation of States.

And whereas we believe the said letter is evidence of disloyalty to the United States, and is calculated to give aid and comfort to the public enemies: Therefore Be it Resolved, that the said Jesse D. Bright is expelled from his seat in the Senate of the United States.3

The case against Bright ostensibly hinged upon two factors: 1) that by introducing an arms merchant to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Bright was clearly disloyal; and 2) that the mode of address to Davis was excessively familiar, and showed evidence of an unwelcome friendliness to the leader of the rebellion. However, if the letter had not existed, a similar charge was bound to have surfaced. Given the turbulence and uncertainties of the Civil War, many Republicans discovered that the easiest way to discredit and neutralize their opponents was to label them disloyal. Bright was an ideologically committed, old‑fashioned Democrat, a supporter of states rights, an opponent of abolitionism, and, though his power was slipping, still the boss of his party in Indiana.4 A powerful, senior Democratic senator such as Jesse D. Bright offered an appealing target for Republicans to attack.5 While Bright was accused of treason and expelled for disloyalty, his only crime lay in being an anti‑abolitionist Democrat when that position ceased to be fashionable.

Fighting for his political life was nothing new for Jesse Bright. In 1862 Bright was, at the age of 50, in his seventeenth year as a Senator, and his twenty‑eighth as a politician. Bright was born on December 18, 1812 in Norwich in western New York. When he was eight years old he moved with his family to Madison, Indiana, where at the age of 22 he became probate judge. In 1841 he became a state senator, in which position he served for two years, at which point he became lieutenant governor of Indiana. Bright represented the proslavery wing of the Democratic party, while then Governor James Whitcomb was an antislavery Democrat. Bright was elected to his first Senate term in 1845. In his first term he worked hard to defeat the Senate version of the Wilmot Proviso, and later served on the "Committee of Thirteen" which worked to pass the Compromise of 1850.6

Since 1856, rival Democrats had been challenging his election by the Indiana legislature, even sending an alternate senator to claim his seat in 1857.7 During this time, Bright faced his first trial before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously that he was entitled to his seat, but the full Senate voted his legitimacy by the much narrower margin of 30 to 23. Among those voting against Bright was Senator Stephen Douglas, and from that point on, the two were implacable enemies, and followers of the two men became opponents.8 From this time on, Bright was constantly under fire from opposition newspapers such as the Madison Courier / Indianapolis Daily Journal and by 1860, even the Indiana State Sentinel -- the organ of the Democratic party. Opponents reviled Bright for his conservative stance on issues such as slavery and the territories. Bright, in his turn, felt that the "traitor to party and principle... Stephen A. Douglas and his minions", had been after him for years.9

Notwithstanding his opposition, Bright, a master cloakroom politician who was not inclined to back away from a fight on the loyalty issue, wrote determinedly, in 1860, "[t]here is some talk I understand of expelling me for my known disloyalty. Let [it] come." On December 16, 1861, it had come, in the form of the resolution quoted above. While the Judiciary Committee voted against the resolution, it was nevertheless brought to the floor, and a heated debate ensued. The debate, which took place on eleven different days, and involved more than two dozen senators, illustrates the level of patriotic fervor in the upper house in early 1862, as well as the lengths Republican senators were willing to go to purge the Senate of dissenting voices. 10

In his own defense, Bright submitted to the Judicial Committee an explanatory letter, in which he disclosed his view on the state of politics and of the nation. He wrote:

... I have so little regard, indeed such an utter contempt of Abolitionism, which is seeking by every means in its power to 'crush out' every man who dares dissent from the policy it prescribes that if it were merely to satisfy the corrupt partisans of that doctrine, I would not take the trouble of denying or attempting to counteract this impression [that he was sympathetic to the rebels] .... I am, and always have been for preserving the integrity of this Union. I was laboring zealously for its preservation when these men, who are now so clamorous for its maintenance, were willing to 'let it slide' rather than abate one iota from their unconstitutional doctrine of inequality... the inevitable tendency of [the Republican party's strategies] is to render the disruption permanent and incurable. And hence I have opposed, and so long as my present convictions should last shall continue to oppose the entire coercive policy of this Government.'11

This creed was not altogether unusual. G. K. Tredway reveals that opposition to "coercion" was a strong tenet of Indiana Democratic thought at this time. He writes that most Democrats, like Bright, were initially against war, and were willing to peaceably allow seceding states to go quietly, rather than risk conflagration.12 One month before the firing upon Fort Sumter, the Sullivan, Indiana Democrat proclaimed, "It is difficult for any of us to concede the right of a state to secede and destroy the government." But if secession was inevitable, "Let them go, and peace be with them, and be with us." 13

In addition to the largely pro‑peace perspective of most Hoosiers, there existed, especially among many Democrats, a strong suspicion and distrust of Republican policies as the conflict grew into Civil War. The Republican party was known by many as the party of abolitionism, an unpopular position in Indiana. Many Republican policies since the start of the Lincoln Administration, such as the Confiscation Act of 1861, which in effect freed slaves captured by Union forces, outraged Indiana Democrats.14 They also opposed the many measures taken by pro‑Union partisans to quell dissenting voices, including mob attacks on Democratic newspapers and editors.15 In fact, in January, 1861, the Democratic party of Indiana adopted seventeen resolutions outlining its views on the war. These resolutions echoed Bright's thoughts. The Hoosier Democrats asserted that, "the present civil war has mainly resulted from the long continued, unwise and fanatical agitation in the North of the question of domestic slavery." They declared that, "the Republican party assumed a fearful responsibility and acted in total disregard of the best interests of the whole country" in rejecting peace proposals, and further, that attempts to stifle opposition thought was an example of "despotic power."16

Unfortunately for Bright, his trial came before a Senate in which fellow Democrats held but ten seats, compared to twenty‑nine seats held by Republicans.17 This fact, coupled with Republican control of the Presidency and House of Representatives, provided an atmosphere where opponents to the majority party could be hounded out of government. Bright, whose previous troubles with Douglas Democrats had lessened his support from colleagues, was in an even more precarious situation. The undisguised hatred he held for abolitionists, such as Charles Sumner, and even more moderate senators who did not support states rights, such as William Pitt Fessenden and Lyman Trumbull made him an ideal target for a party seeking to obtain unfettered power and having the numbers to get it. Bright's enemies spared no rhetorical flourishes in the debates.  Senator Wilkinson began by asserting that the letter "shows upon its face that the Senator was in complicity with the Southern rebellion".18  Senator Lot Morrill went even further. After reiterating that Jefferson Davis was a traitor, he declared, "it was treason in any man, whether Senator or citizen to aid him."19

Once Jesse Bright's offense was rhetorically upgraded from disloyalty to treason, his opponents in the Senate began to go after him with unadulterated venom. Charles Sumner, one of the leading orators of the upper House, attempted to prove Bright's guilt by association with the leading traitors of Western history. His theme was that "History teaches by example," and not so subtly compared Bright to Catiline, who "after plotting the destruction of Rome, took his place in the senate and listened to the orator who denounced his treason."20 Just in case some members of his audience were less familiar with the classics, the senator from Massachusetts reminded people of Benedict Arnold, who "after commencing his correspondence with the enemy, and before its detection, appeared at the bar of a court‑martial... and yet with treason in his heart, and already in his acts" declared his innocence. Sumner acknowledged that Bright, "may be unwilling to be classed with Benedict Arnold; but the professions of that... traitor are identical with the professions we have listened to on this floor."21 Sumner was not the only senator invoking Arnold's memory; others quickly followed his lead, calling Bright a traitor and speaking as if they were hearing a case of treason. Such diatribes persisted for the rest of the debate.

But Bright had not committed treason. Treason is the only crime whose definition is to be found within the Constitution, which clearly states, in Article 3, Section 3, that "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or by confession in open Court." The Supreme Court did not take a treason conviction under review until the Second World War; however its decision then was one which sought to put clear limits on the scope of what could be deemed treasonous behavior.22 Another reason why Bright's acts were not treasonous was enunciated by the Court in the Prize Cases decided in 1863. At issue here was the question of when the war started, and whether acts by the government before the Act of Congress recognizing a state of war on July 13, 1861 could be considered legal acts of war. The Court ruled that a state of war existed at the time of the President's order to blockade the harbor at Charleston in April 1861. But they did not establish an actual starting date for the war, which seems to make Bright's letter, written during the Buchanan Administration, appear to have been penned in a time of peace.23 Further, in the months following Bright's expulsion, Congress passed the second treason law in its history, the second Confiscation Act, which lessened the penalty (previously death) for treason.24 Even under the Treason Law of 1790, which was applicable in 1861, Bright would not have been guilty, as jurisprudence had established that an actual levying of war was necessary for conviction.25

Bright never admitted to disloyalty, merely opposition to the Republican Party, and while every Senator read the letter to Davis, that did not make them witnesses to any overt acts of treason. Senator David Wilmot, in his speech against Bright, admitted this, while reminding his colleagues of the true purpose of their debate:

They [certain Senators] deal with the Senator from Indiana as one on his trial for treason, and themselves as judges or jurors sworn to try him under all the technical rules of presumptions and reasonable doubts, applicable in such cases. Herein they greatly err. We sit here in trial upon the Senator from Indiana, not to pronounce judgement against him for the crime of treason, but to say by our votes, under the facts before us, if he be a loyal and safe man to sit in this high council of state.26

Wilmot's speech, however, was directed not at the opponents of Bright but at his defenders. He was trying to tell them that they were wasting their breath by defending Bright against treason when Bright was being tried on a charge of disloyalty, and that there were no limitations or definitions for the latter crime. Yet in his next breath Wilmot tellingly contradicted himself by saying, "if I were called upon to‑day to give any definition of his offense, I should pronounce it treason."27

Another complaint against Bright was that the timing and tone of the letter were equal to the content in proving Bright's guilt. Senator Timothy Howe openly inquired how "such a man, holding such an office and filling such a place, should finally, after deliberation, make up his mind that he might, without impropriety" write to Jefferson Davis on March 1, 1861.28 Senator Sumner said, "[t]hat such a letter should be signed 'very truly yours, Jesse D. Bright' was natural and the words are not mere words of form. The writer evidently,...belongs to the rebel chief, and is one of his ‘own’…a person thus belonging…is surely disqualified for the confidential duties of this body."29 Read in their entirety, these charges convey the feeling of a laundry list; it is as though the senators are so strongly aligned against Bright that they are willing to use any and every rationale at their command to secure his expulsion.

Jesse Bright, for his part, was not unaware that he was the target of a concerted effort to unseat him, perpetrated by Republicans who did not hesitate to heap new charges upon him. "This debate has taken a direction novel and unprecedented in the history of this body," he said, "Charged by the original resolution with a single act of disloyalty, one Senator after another adds additional accusations, until I am at a loss to know what I have to defend against."30 His few supporters must have felt the same way, but their defense of Bright, while forced by the character of the Republican attacks to confront numerous charges, illustrates the resolve of some Democratic senators to resist the tide of unanimity and one party rule. Bright's defenders based their arguments upon two pillars: 1) that the mode of address to Davis was only common courtesy, and did not indicate disloyalty, and 2) that no state of hostilities existed when the letter was written, and that treason could not occur in such circumstances. This defense sought to make the arguments for Bright's expulsion seem either trivial or moot. It also served a deeper purpose, as the senators speaking for Bright were able to inject into their speeches a sequential unfolding of the events leading to the war which subtly placed blame upon the Lincoln administration. Senator James Pearce's speech, for instance, followed both of these courses. He asked his fellow senators, "is it not possible that many of us may be the friends of Jefferson Davis," and while deploring the course of events and circumstances which led Davis to his position in the Confederacy, Pearce added that "it does not follow that our private friendships are to be obliterated; still less that all ordinary civilities are to be cast aside and trampled underfoot, and an old friend not be addressed with 'my dear sir' but in terms of passion and reproach, as 'you rebel and traitor'."31 Pearce told the Senate "if I were writing to my direst foe, I think I would phrase it in the politest shape possible... and mere terms of civility in such a case furnish no reason for charging treason or even a disloyal inclination."32

This line of reasoning was followed by Senator James Bayard, who reasoned that "[t]he letter was addressed to Mr. Davis by the title which he claimed" and "it would be, of course, simply an insult if he did not address him in that mode."33 Bayard said that a letter not addressed to Davis as "President of the Confederation of States" would not have received any attention by Davis, and would be useless as a letter of introduction. The letter was addressed as it was in "common courtesy, without having any effect upon the right of Mr. Davis to assume that title, or meaning to recognize his right to it in any way whatever, but admitting only that he claimed it." As mentioned above, another component of the Bright defense was to present a version of the past year which indicated that no civil war yet existed on March 1, 1861, when the letter was written. Senator Pearce reminded his listeners that

[n]o measures had been taken to levy forces, no resistance had been made by this Government to the forcible acts by which the confederates had seized upon the forts and arsenals at the south... no proclamation had been issued by the President declaring the state of things to the country. No stop had been put to commercial intercourse. Travelers went as freely to the revolted States as to the loyal States. No man found fault with them for going there. No one interposed to prevent the dispatch of arms which northern merchants sent in large quantities to those States. The revolution was perfectly bloodless at that time, and, for aught we knew, might never lead to blood.35

Following this indictment of the hypocritical attitudes of the government including the Senate, Pearce said that it was only after Lincoln's inaugural address (three days after the letter was written) "that some of the southern men, who had deluded themselves into the belief that no war could follow from what they considered the exercise of a constitutional right of secession, began then to believe that war would follow."36

After discussing this point further, Pearce concluded that, “the charge of reasonable communication, in the midst of civil war, cannot be established against the Senator from Indiana. Thousands of people were doing what was vastly more improper that the writing of a letter of introduction, even though its object may have been to introduce to the president of the seceded States a person who had something about the improvements of fire‑arms to communicate.”37 Senator Edgar Cowan concurred in this view later in the debate. Cowan asserted that "I am free to say that communication between the parties, the United States and the confederate States, was as free and open as it is between the northern States now... mails were running then into those States just as before, and for a long while after, and I suppose that nobody at that time, belonging to that party to which Mr. Bright had belonged for long, long, years, had the most remote conception, that in addressing communication to people in the confederate States, they were thereby committing treason."38

Senator Willard Saulsbury gave the most strenuous defense of Jesse Bright.  Delaware's senior senator in a long, eloquent speech, compared the situation in Congress with the persecution of the French Revolution:

Our amazement should therefore diminish and our prejudices somewhat abate when we reflect that those now temporarily clothed with power abuse its exercise and in the name of justice and patriotism blindly stab the one and betray the other. ...Of the same character as are many of the inexplicable phenomena of political and party action which we of late have witnessed is the proposition now before the Senate--the proposition to expel the honorable Senator from Indiana. Reason, justice, common sense have nothing to do with it; for the reason that reason, justice and common sense have well nigh fled the land. We have much of the reason of Robespierre, Marat and Danton; and none of the wisdom of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin. The Mountain reigns, and woe to him who is not of the Mountain.39

Saulsbury's strong speech, while very moving, did not sway many Senators. Finally, after two weeks of debate, the moment arrived for the casting of the final vote on the resolution for Jesse Bright's expulsion. His case had become a cause celebre,   though most onlookers were not on his side, and the galleries had been crowded for days to watch the proceedings.40 For one final time, Jesse Bright took the floor of the United States Senate to speak in his own defense. Bright was not known for making long speeches, but never before was he in such a position. Bright was experienced enough in the world of Senatorial politics to know that his chances of surviving the vote were slim if they existed at all. His final speech in the Senate addressed the charges against him, but also told the Republicans that he knew exactly what was happening to him, and why.

Bright stated at the beginning of his remarks that "I do not propose to appeal to any Senator to support the report of the [judicial] committee. No, sir; my main object is to place myself right on the page of history."

I confess Sir, that I have been amazed at the party organization exhibited on what has been so justly and ably treated as a judicial question by every member of the Judiciary Committee who has spoken in favor of the report. I may well fear my inability to succeed against so formidable an array of accusers, and such a variety of accusations. I said on a former occasion, that had I known of the full proportions of this organized effort to take my seat from me, and the means to be employed to effect it--that the charge of disloyalty (for that is the only specification in the resolution) was to be added and multiplied at the will and pleasure of every speaker--that every vote given or opinion expressed not in conformity with the peculiar views of those who are my accusers and prosecutors, was to be brought against me as a crime, I might with the greatest propriety have asked for counsel; but conscious that I have not said, done, written or voted anything inconsistent with the prerogatives of an American Senator, I did not ask it, and do not regret not having done so.41

Bright went on to explain his three-decade long relationship to Thomas Lincoln: Lincoln had been his first law client and a long‑time associate. He noted further that, while charged, Lincoln was not convicted of treason. Bright contended that he never would have written the letter had a state of war existed, but that on March 1, 1861 it had not. He reminded the Senate that the Judiciary Committee voted against the resolution 6 to 1, and that he was a loyal American who had been working for sectional compromise since 1850.

But all this was superfluous, and Bright knew it. He was aware that it was his politics which were on trial, not his correspondence. He acerbicly defended his right to his own views,

It may be very wrong, but as I am thirty years of age, the Constitution supposes that I am capable of thinking, voting and speaking for myself; and I am quite sure my constituency would think much less of me than they do if they supposed that any man or party could force me into the formation or expression of opinions or a line of political action inconsistent with the time­honored creed of the great Democratic party, to which I have ever belonged, and whose principles and policy can alone... restore this country to its former proportions and make us once more a unified people. 42

Bright's final words proclaimed his stout hearted resolve, "if I am to fall, of which I entertain no doubt, it shall be with my face toward my accusers, and into the arms of a people that I have ever found just and swift to vindicate the right."43

The Senate then cast its vote by roll call, and the resolution for the expulsion of Senator Jesse D. Bright passed, 32 to 14.44  The vote was responded to by applause from the gallery, and Jesse Bright, now a private citizen, "bundled up the portable property on his desk, turned his back upon the court that tried him... and in a defiant stride walked in to the Public Lands Room, where his wife awaited him. In her presence the actor's costume fell, the ruined politician sat down and haggard and crushed contemplated the wreck he had made of his political fortunes."45

Public opinion on the Bright case was split. The Washington, D.C. National Intelligencer long an opponent of Bright's, nevertheless wrote against the expulsion effort.46 The paper's editors agreed with Bright's supporters that "the Senate decision would, in all human probability, not have been reached if the investigation in the premises had been had on the day when the letter, now regarded as evidence of disloyalty, had been written, or on any day anterior to the attack on Fort Sumter."47 They concluded that, "the case against Mr. Bright was decided by the Senate with an extremity of rigor not justified by the historical circumstances under which the letter that forms the justification of the indictment against him was written."48 On the other hand, there were also papers which expressed joy at Bright's expulsion. The Indianapolis Daily Journal wrote:

...There was no safety for the Government as long as he held his seat.... There has never been an hour since the rebels began the war that he would not have joined in any scheme to overthrow the Government, even if he had lost his position and pay as a senator, the things he holds dearest, to do it. He is an ingrained traitor, not because he is a desperate or peculiarly bad man, but because he is so little‑minded that he cannot bear a government that is in the hands of Republicans .... A1l his acts, votes and language have been openly hostile or unkindly embarrassing to the government. He has associated and voted only with those who are either in the rebel ranks or aiding them by impeding and opposing the action of the Government.... We say his whole career is corroborative of the treason that lurks in his letter to Jeff Davis.49

Jesse Bright was expelled from the Senate because of his beliefs. He never sought to give aid and comfort to the enemy, but neither was he in favor of making war to retrieve the seceded States. Jesse Bright was a dedicated foe of abolitionism, a strong supporter of states rights, and a dogmatic, dedicated Democrat. The Republican majority of the Senate did not want such a man in their midst, and expelled him. The letter to Davis was the means, not the motive. Unfortunately for Bright, vindication by his constituency was not forthcoming. He was defeated in his bid to be sent back to his seat, and left the Hoosier state for good. Nor has Bright's evaluation upon "the page of history" been salvaged. The most powerful Democrat in Indiana had reached a point in history where his views were no longer dominant, and he was punished for them. Bright's expulsion is all but ignored in histories of Indiana and the Civil War Congress. The time has come to restore this incident to history, and to use it as a case study of how Republicans in Congress handled dissent during the Civil War.


 1.          National Intelligencer December, 2, 1861, p. 3. For information regarding disloyalty accusations aimed at Democrats in Congress, see Allen Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate (Ithaca,1981) discusses this subject from the point of view of the Republican Party, especially on page 136. Jean Baker, Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid‑nineteenth Century, (Ithaca, 1983); "A Loyal Opposition: Northern Democrats in the 37th Senate" Civil War History, vol. XXV, 1979, and Joel Silbey, A Respectable Minority: The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860‑1868, (New York, 1977). Sources which pay particular attention to Indiana politics include: G.R. Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana (Indianapolis, 1973) which describes attempts on the part of Republicans to accuse Indiana Congressmen Daniel Voorhees and Thomas A. Hendricks of treason. (p. 41) ; Kenneth M. Stampp, Indiana Politics During the Civil War (Indianapolis, 1949), gives many examples of Republican charges, but concludes that "[w}hatever the allegations of excited Republicans, the Indiana Democracy of 1862 was eminently loyal." (p. 151). Other sources include Emma Lou Thornbrough, Indiana in the Civil War Era, 1850­1880 (Indianapolis,1965), particularly Chapters III and V;

2.            See, for instance, Charles F. Cooney, "Treason or Tyranny?: The Great Senate Purge of '62", Civil War Times Illustrated July 1979, pp. 30‑31. The author states that Bright was expelled for treason, not disloyalty as was specified in the charge.

3.         Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 89.

4.               Charles B. Murphy, The Political Career of Jesse D. Bright (Indianapolis,1931).

5.          Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana; Stampp, Indiana Politics during the Civil War.

6            Allen Johnson, ed. Dictionary of American Biography (New York, 1929) pp. 45‑46; Murphy, The Political Career of Jesse D. Bright. The story behind this is long and involved. Briefly, Bright and Graham Fitch were elected to the Senate by a divided legislature, where Democrats and the minority Republicans voted in separate sessions. Republicans challenged the election, which was ultimately proved legal by a committee of prominent Hoosier lawyers. However, upon reaching Washington, the Republican Party, under the leadership of Lyman Trumbull and William Seward challenged the legality of the election, forcing examination by the Judiciary Committee. See Murphy, The Political Career of Jesse D. Bright pp. 127‑129.

8          It could be argued, however, that the first shot in this intra‑party feud was fired when at the Democratic National Convention in 1856, Bright, as Indiana's favorite son candidate and party leader threw his state's votes to James Buchanan rather than Douglas, in what became a highly significant move, as it led to other states voting for Buchanan's nomination. The legitimacy issue may have been Douglas attempting retribution. When Indiana Democrats nominated Douglas in 1860, against Bright's wishes, many saw it as the end of Bright's hold over his party. Bright went on to support John C.Breckinridge in the 1860 national election. See Thornbrough, Indiana in the Civil War Era: 1850‑1880, pp. 69‑89.

9.                National Intelligencer, November 1, 1860, p.3.

Johnson, ed. Dictionary of American Biography p. 46; Murphy, The Political Career of Jesse D. Bright pp. 128‑129; "Some Letters of Jesse D. Bright to William H. English." Indiana Magazine of History vol. xxx, 1934. p. 385; Congressional Globe, 2nd Session, 37th Congress. p. 89.

11.             Letter of Jesse D. Bright to J. Fitch, Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 89.

12.          Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana p.5.

13.           Sullivan, Democrat, March 14, 1861, quoted in Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana p. 5.

14.         Stampp, pp. 92‑94; Tredway, p. 18.

15.          Tredway, Democratic Opposition to the Lincoln Administration in Indiana pp. 18‑40. While many of the most egregious examples of partisan violence, including military intervention into the electoral process, occurred during parts of the war outside the temporal scope of this paper, there were in 1860‑61 many occurrences of such acts.

16.  Congressional Globe 37th Congress 2nd Session, p. 647. The quotes come from, respectively, resolutions 3,4, and 13. Bright said during the debate over his expulsion that, " I indorse [the resolutions] in all their heigth (sic), length, breadth, and depth." Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 647.

17. In addition to the two major parties the Senate had five Constitutional Unionists, 1 American Party member, and one Senator elected by New Hampshire's Free Soil party. See note 44 below for names and party affiliations. See Alan G. Bogue, "Some Dimensions of Power in the Thirty‑Seventh Senate," in William 0. Ayledotte, et al, The Dimensions of Quantitative Research in History (Princeton, 1972), pp. 316‑317. For biographies of the Senators, a good source is Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress: 1774‑1989 (Washington, 1989).

18.         Speech of Senator Wilkinson, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress 2nd Session. p. 392.

19.         Speech of Senator Morrill, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 395.

20.         Speech of Senator Sumner, January 21, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 412. Sumner had this speech printed and franked to his constituents. It is listed as a separate document in the Library of Congress.

21. Speech of Senator Sumner, January 21, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 415. Two days later, Senator Garrett Davis of Kentucky (an anti‑Bright Democrat, who later in the war faced the same Senate trying to expel him) asked, "...was Benedict Arnold a traitor? Was Aaron Burr regarded as a traitor?" He was attempting to illustrate that those two infamous Americans were even less guilty of treason than Jefferson Davis, and that if Bright was writing friendly letters to Davis, he must be guilty of something. The crux of his case against Bright was that no one should be in the Senate who did not agree with the Government's prosecution of the war, and that if Bright did not voluntarily resign, "it seems to me to be the imperative duty of this body to expel him from it." Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. pp 447‑448.

22.  In Cramer v. United States 325 US. The Cramer case is actually remarkably similar to Bright's. Cramer was a noted supporter of Germany, and a co‑founder of the German‑American Bund. He refused to work on war materials (similar to Bright's opposition to "coercion"). He corresponded with and held some money for, several Germans who subsequently attempted to sabotage aluminum factories in the U.S. Cramer was convicted of treason for giving aid and comfort to the enemy (a charge levied against Bright by several senators) and sentenced to 45 years in prison. The Court's decision overturned his conviction on the grounds that the government, while proving Cramer's disposition and opportunity to betray the government, did not prove sufficiently that his overt acts were treason. See James Willard Hurst, The Law of Treason in the United States (Westport, 1971) pp. 204‑205.  In this decision the Court was reaffirming a common practice in treason cases which was to limit "constructive treason", i.e., treason where the case was not cut and dried. Bright's "treason" would be considered constructive treason, as he did not directly levy war (which was the charge against Aaron Burr, who was acquitted in part because the case against him was constructive treason). While he did introduce Lincoln for a questionable purpose, to an enemy of the state, Bright would appear to have remained outside the scope of the crime, because he had not directly sold weapons himself.

23.       Prize Cases 67 U.S. For an able discussion of this case, as well as a much fuller discourse on the state of treason laws in the U.S. during the Civil war, see James, G. Randall, Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln (Urbana, 1964).

24.          Randall, Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln , pp. 79‑81. The law of 1862 was a relaxation of the treason clause and the Law of 1790, because the government was faced with the realization that they would have to hang every person in the South who directly participated in the war. The 1862 law, labeled "An Act to Suppress Insurrection; to punish Treason and Rebellion, to seize and confiscate the Property of the Rebels, and for other purposes" was a necessary reworking of a law whose enforcement was unattainable.

25.         Randall, Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln pp. 75‑76.

26.         Speech of Senator Wilmot, January 30, 1862 Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 563.

27.         Speech of Senator Wilmot, January 30, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 563.

28.         Speech of Senator Howe, January 30, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 560.

29.         Speech of Senator Sumner, January 21, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 414.

30.   Speech of Senator Bright, January 31, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 591.

31.         Speech of Senator Pearce, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 391.

32.          Speech of Senator Pearce, January 20, 1862 Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 391.

33.          Speech of Senator Bayard, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 393.

34.          Speech of Senator Bayard, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 393.

35.          Speech of Senator Pearce, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 391.

36.          Speech of Senator Pearce, January 20, 1862, Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 391

37.          Speech of Senator Pearce, January 20, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 391.

38.          Speech of Senator Cowan, January 24, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th\ Congress, 2nd Session. p. 472.

39.          Speech of Senator Saulsbury, January 29, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 539.

40.       This is alluded to at several points in the debate. The gallery is depicted as full, and they often cheered when particularly anti‑Bright, or pro‑Union comments were uttered. During the anti‑Bright speech of Senator Henry Lane of Indiana, the Sergeant at Arms was called to clear the gallery of cheering spectators. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. See also, Indianapolis Daily Journal February 7, 1862, which describes the scene during Bright's final day: "When the result was announced, the gallery burst out with applause." (p. 1).

41.          Speech of Senator Bright, February 5, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 651.

42.          Speech of Senator Bright, February 5, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress, 2nd Session. p. 653

43.          Speech of Senator Bright, February 5, 1862. Congressional Globe 37th Congress 2nd Session. p. 654

44.       Congressional Globe, 37th Congress 2nd Session, p. 655. Those voting for the resolution were Senators Anthony (R, RI), Browning (R, IL), Chandler (R, MI), Clark (R, NH), Collamer (R, VT) Davis (Union, KY), Dixon (R, CT), Doolittle (R, WI), Fessenden (R, ME), Foot (R, VT) Foster (R, CT) Grimes (R, IA) Hale (Free Soil, NH), Harlan (R, IA), Henderson (Union, MO), Howard (R, MI), Howe (R, WI), Johnson (D, TN), King (R, NY), Lane of Indiana (R), McDougall (D, CA), Morrill (R, ME) Pomeroy (R, KS), Sherman R, OH), Simmons (R, RI), Sumner (R, MA), Trumbull (R, IL), Wade (R, OH), Wilkninson, (R, MN), Wilmot (R, PA), Wilson of Massachusetts (R), and Wilson of Missouri (Union). Those voting against were Senators Bayard (D, DE), Carlile (Union, VA), Cowan (R, PA), Harris (R, NY), Kennedy (American, MD), Latham (D, CA), Nesmith (D, OR), Pearce (D, MD), Powell (D, KY), Rice (D, MN), Saulsbury (D, DE), Ten Eyck (R, NJ), Thomson (D, NJ), and Willey (Union, VA).

45.         "The Traitor Bright Expelled" Indiana Daily Journal February 7, 1862. p. 1

46.         The editors wrote, "none will suspect us of being the partisans of Mr. Bright, as it has rarely, if ever, been in our power to concur with him in his views of public men or measures." The paper supported the Constitutional Unionist ticket of John Bell and Edward Everett in the 1860 Presidential election. National Intelligencer, February 7, 1862, p. 3.

47.         National Intelligencer February 7, 1862, p. 3.

48.         National Intelligencer, February 7, 1862, p. 3.

49.         Indiana Daily Journal February 7, 1862. p. 1