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revolt was not forgiven or trusted. Meantime the alarm at John Brown's raid had intensified the South's hostility to all opponents or critics. All through the winter there had been constant expulsion of anti-slavery men from that section. And now the Southern forces mustered in the convention of the party they had so long controlled, insistent and imperious, rejecting anything short of the fullest affirmation of their claims in the territories.
Douglas was not on the ground, but through his lieutenants, and still more through the spirit he had infused into his followers, he was a great and decisive power. In the Senate he had been almost isolated among the Democrats; of late only Senator Pugh of Ohio had stood with him against the administration. But he had appealed to the people, and they had answered the call of the sturdy, audacious leader. However he might at times court the favor of the South, he really stood for a broad and simple principle,—the right of the majority of white men to rule. For the negroes he cared nothing. But, in the territories, the majority of white men should have slavery or not as they pleased. In the Democratic party, the majority should control. And, in the last resort, in the nation itself the majority should rule. Douglas thus stood squarely for the rule of the majority within the white race. The Republic cans coupled with the supremacy of the legal majority in the nation the right and obligation of the majority to maintain the personal freedom of the negro, except where the Constitution allowed the States to maintain slavery. The Southern Democracy asserted as its paramount principle the right of slave-holding wherever the flag flew, except where the State constitution forbade. If that right was denied or limited—by a majority in the Democracy, or by a majority in the nation—then beware!
The Douglas men met the threat with a defiance,-not
wordy, but resolute. In Charleston, the stronghold and citadel of the South, with their leader absent, with the disruption of the party impending, they stood their ground. The majority should rule, or they would know the reason why! They decisively outvoted their opponents as to the platform. Then the delegates from South Carolina and the Gulf States deliberately and solemnly marched out of the hall, and organized a separate convention. With that act the rift began to open which was to be closed only after four
years With what expectation did the extreme South thus break up the party? Did they believe that their Northern associates would again capitulate, as they had done so often before? Failing that, did they not know that a divided Democracy meant victory for the Republicans? and had they not committed themselves in that event to dissolve the Union? Were they deliberately courting disunion, and wilfully throwing away the large chance of continued dominance within the Union which a united Democracy might have? Did they really attach supreme importance to this dogma about the territories, when Kansas had shown how inevitably the local population must determine the question, even against the efforts of the Federal Government? Did the Southern leaders prefer the election of a Republican, their open opponent, to Douglas, their friend and half-ally? To such questions as these there can be little more than a conjectural answer. It would be most interesting to know the true thoughts and purposes of the leading delegates. We shall see a little later the interpretation given by one of their defenders. But the strong presumption is that their action was the fruit less of a policy than of a temper. They had long been growing into a disposition which could brook no resistance and no contradiction. The irresponsible power of the master over his
slaves; the domination of the slave-holding class over the local communities, and the expulsion of their opponents; the control of the government by a united South over a divided North,—these things had bred a self-confidence and self-assertion which would stop at nothing. The slaveholding principle, in full flower, was a principle which recked nothing of legal majorities or governments. Its basis was force, and it would use whatever force was necessary to maintain itself.
The Douglas Democrats were still patient. Left with the original convention in their hands, they declined to press their advantage. The traditional rule required a twothirds vote to nominate; and it was agreed that for this purpose the seats left vacant by the seceders must be counted,—which would prevent the nomination of Douglas. Administration men from the North had stayed in the convention when their Southern friends left. The body adjourned, to meet in Baltimore in the last of June. The rival convention met in Richmond only to adjourn to the same time and place. But any hopes of reunion were vain. Neither side would yield. In the regular convention, to some of the vacant seats Douglas delegates had in the interim been chosen. They were admitted, against the protest of the administration minority, who found in this a pretext for withdrawing and joining the seceding convention. With these went a majority of the Massachusetts delegates, including Benjamin F. Butler and Caleb Cushing; Cushing had been president of the Charleston body. The two conventions now made their respective nominations. With Douglas was joined for Vice-President Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia. The seceders nominated John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky and Joseph Lane of Oregon. Breckinridge was Vice-President under Buchanan; a man of character and ability, of fine presence and bearing, a
typical Kentuckian, afterward a general in the Confederate service.
Alexander H. Stephens in his War Between the Statesperhaps the best statement of the Southern side of the whole case that has ever been made,-says that this secession from the party was made against his own judgment) not recklessly, nor to provoke disunion, but with the expectation of electing Breckinridge. The calculation was that with four Presidential candidates there would be no choice by the people, and, the election being thrown into the House, Breckinridge would be chosen; or, if the House could not choose, Lane would surely be elected by the Senate. This, says Stephens, was the view of President Buchanan, of Breckinridge, Davis and a great majority of the Charleston seceders. Stephens himself considered this a most precarious and hazardous calculation, wholly insufficient for so grave a step. So obviously sound was this judgment, that we inevitably recur to the belief that the Southern secession was inspired not by calculation, but by a temper of self-assertion, which fitted its hopes to its wishes.
The “ Constitutional Union " party-legatee of the Whig and American parties-held a convention at Baltimore in May; resolved simply for the maintenance of the Union and Constitution and the enforcement of the laws; and nominated John Bell of Tennessee and Edward Everett of Massachusetts. It was the refuge of those who disliked the whole sectional controversy, and were indifferent to both proslavery and anti-slavery claims in comparison with peace and union. It held a middle position, geographically as well as in sentiment, and was strong in the border States.
The Republican convention met in Chicago in May. It was a more sophisticated body than its predecessor of 1856; with less of youthful and spontaneous enthusiasm for a principle, and more of keen maneuvering for the candidates.
But it represented a disciplined and powerful party, clear and strong in its essential principles, and looking confidently to a national victory as almost within its grasp. The platform affirmed its familiar doctrines as to slavery, and threw out various inviting propositions as to foreign immigrants, a homestead law, a Pacific railroad, etc. The vote of Pennsylvania being important and doubtful, a bait was thrown out in a high-tariff resolution. When a year or two later the exigencies of the war demanded a large revenue, this was obtained partly by a high tariff. In these circumstances originated the Protectionist character of the Republican party; a character confirmed by the natural alliance of the favored interests with the favoring power.
The most prominent and in a sense logical candidate was William H. Seward. As Governor and then Senator of New York, as a polished and philosophic orator, as a man whose anti-slavery and constitutional principles were well understood,—he was easily in the popular estimate the foremost man of the party. Lincoln was in comparison obscure; his fame rested mainly on his achievements as a popular debater; he was wholly unversed in executive work and almost equally so in legislation; highly esteemed in his own State, but little known beyond its borders. He had been proposed for the Presidency only a week before in the State convention, with great hurrahing for “the rail-splitter," " “ honest old Abe.” It seemed hardly more than one of the
favorite son candidacies which every canvass knows in plenty. But he was supported by a group of very skillful Illinois politicians. They worked up the local sentiment in his favor; they filled the galleries of the Wigwam at daylight of the decisive day, and they took quieter and effective measures. Simon Cameron claimed to control the vote of Pennsylvania in the convention, and a bargain was made with him that if Lincoln were elected he should have a