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There were thus four parties in the field, whose views on the question practically chosen as the test of political orthodoxy may be shortly stated as follows:
1. The Republicans, not content with affirming the moderate and reasonable propositions, that to exclude slavery from the Territories was within the power of Congress, and (subject to the supreme authority of Congress) within that of the Territorial Legislatures, and that the exercise of this power by Congress was expedient, went further, and maintained that slavery neither had nor could have legal existence in any Territory. The candidate of this party was Mr. Lincoln.
2. The "Seceding Democrats," as they were called, affirmed on the contrary that slavery had legal existence, under the Constitution, in every Territory; that the inhabitants, when formed into a State, could abolish it if they thought fit; but that it could be excluded in the meanwhile neither by the Territorial Legislature nor by Congress. The candidate of this party was Mr. Breckenridge, of Kentucky.
3. Another section of Democrats were understood to hold that it might be excluded by the Territorial Legislatures, but not by Congress. Their candidate was Mr. Douglas, of Illinois.1
4. A fourth party, declaring that experience had proved the mischievous effect of partisan platforms in misleading the people, and in widening party divisions and making them sectional, refused to recognize any other political principle than "the Constitution of the country, the Union of the States, and the enforcement of the laws." This party was represented by Mr. Bell, of Tennessee.
The more moderate politicians-the men of less
1 This doctrine, commonly denoted by the phrases "Popular Sovereignty" and "Squatter Sovereignty," was not clearly expressed in the platform of the Charleston Convention, and is indeed hardly consistent with it; but it was the ground practically taken throughout the canvass.
absolute convictions or less unflinching resolution, by Chap. II. whom, in ordinary times, the action of parties is restrained and controlled-were in this way sifted off, and forced to mass themselves in separate bodies, whilst the two great opposing interests, each represented by its most thorough-going partizans, were brought face to face and foot to foot with one another.
About six months had yet to elapse before the day fixed by Congress for the choice of electors-a choice which virtually elects the President himself, since the electors are all pledged men, and their proceedings a mere formality. This interval was spent in a feverishly active canvass, in the course of which many fruitless endeavours were made to effect coalitions. On the 6th November, 1860, the vote was taken throughout the Union with the following result:
NORTH AND WEST.
[These Tables a: e taken from Macpherson's Political History of the
1 In these States electors for Breckenridge, for Douglas, and for Bell, were combined in one ticket, and voted for in the lump by supporters of each of those candidates.
The events which immediately followed give importance to these figures. The candidate who had an overwhelming ascendancy in the North and West failed, as we see, to obtain a single vote in the Cotton States; the candidate who in those States occupied a corresponding position had an insignificant minority in the North and West. In the Middle or Border States the most powerful party was that of Constitutional Union. Here lay the strength of this party, which was feeble in the West and North, but in the Cotton States themselves mustered about half as many as the supporters of Breckenridge. Even in the Free States the two sections of the Democratic party, taken together, were to the Republicans in proportion of seven to nine, whilst in the whole Union
1 The vote of this State, in which the electors are chosen by the Legislature, was cast for Breckenridge. This should be taken into account in a comparison of numbers.
they were as twelve to ten. Finally, Mr. Lincoln, Chap. II. though he headed the poll, had scarcely two-fifths of the votes recorded.
We have now followed the course of this great quarrel to the very brink of the Civil War. On the legal and moral aspects of it I shall permit myself only a very few words. few words. To the Government of Great Britain and other European Governments, the war, when it came, came as a fact, which they could not help recognizing, but they had no part or concern in the discords out of which it sprang. They had been, and they continued to be, friends to the whole American people thus unhappily divided; and profound as was their interest in the future of the Republic, they rightly resolved to stand altogether aloof from the contest on which that future appeared to depend. Whether an aggrieved State had a right to secede from the Union, or whether the Southern States had grievances, they were not, as Governments, called upon to judge; remaining neutral, they had but to pursue the line of conduct traced out for neutral Powers by the law of nations.
By the South it was insisted that the Union was composed of States united on certain terms which are expressed in the Constitution; that a substantial violation of these terms would entitle any State to secede; and that they had been substantially violated. On the thesis embodied in the first and second of these propositions much has been written and said; but the controversy, like most attempts to discuss a grave question of conduct on high abstract grounds, was really barren and inconclusive, and the research spent upon it only made it appear more difficult than it really was. If the supposed right to secede be represented as a legal right, it is surely enough to ask whether, on an indictment for treason against the United States, a plea that, before the committing of the alleged treason, the State of which the
accused was a citizen had for good cause seceded from