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seat in the Cabinet. Lincoln was not a party to the compact, but when informed of it afterward he reluctantly made good his part. The same thing was done with the friends of Caleb B. Smith of Indiana, and with a like sequel.
Meantime, Seward met such difficulties as always beset the first favorite in a race. The old alliance between Seward, Weed and Greeley, had been broken, with anger and resentment on Greeley's part, and he was now on the floor of the convention actively opposing his old ally. William M. Evarts led the New York delegation for Seward. Edward Bates of Missouri had some support, as more moderate than Seward in his anti-slavery principles, but he was too colorless a candidate to draw much strength. One of Seward's friends, in seeking to win over the Bates men, declared that Lincoln was just as radical as Seward. A newspaper containing this being shown to Lincoln, he penciled on the margin a reply which was forwarded to his supporters, “Lincoln agrees with Seward in his irrepressible-conflict idea, and in negro equality; but he is opposed to Seward's higher law.” The “irrepressible conflict the exact counterpart of the "house divided against itself.” 'Negro equality" marked a distinct advance since the Douglas debate two years before, and such advance, gradual but steady, was characteristic of Lincoln. It was no less characteristic of him to disclaim the “higher law" doctrine, -an obligation recognized by the individual conscience as paramount to all human enactments. Indeed Seward, though the phrase was his, was as little an idealist of the individual conscience as was Lincoln.
Of the circumstances just mentioned, a part belongs to the undercurrents which few spectators at the time discerned. What the crowd and the world saw was three successive ballots. First, Seward, 1731; Lincoln, 102; Cameron, 501; Chase and Bates following close. Then Cameron's name
was withdrawn, and Lincoln shot up abreast of Seward. A third ballot, and Lincoln went up, up till he touched the line of a clear majority. Then the Wigwam roared; the guns boomed; in the first subsidence of the cheering Evarts gallantly moved that the choice be made unanimous,—and the tall, homely Illinois lawyer was the Republican candidate for the Presidency. If the result was not without its illustrations of his own definition of politics—“the combination of individual meannesses for the general good,”—he at least had sacrificed nothing of his convictions, had not worked for his own elevation, or smirched his hands. And, unproved though he was as to administrative power and seamanship in a cyclone, there was yet a singular and intrinsic fitness in his candidacy. His recognized quality was that which is basal and dear to the common people, honesty; honesty in thought, word and act. In his convictions, he was near to the great mass of the party of freedom as it actually was; frankly opposed to slavery, but reverent and tenacious of the established order, even though it gave slavery a certain standing-ground. He had, too, that intimate sympathy with the common people, that knowledge of their thoughts and ways, that respect for their collective judgment and will as the ultimate arbiter—which are the essential traits in a great leader of democracy.
In the four-sided canvass which followed, the lines were not strictly geographical. The Republican party indeed took its Vice-Presidential candidate from the North-Hannibal Hamlin of Maine; for no Southern man was likely to invite exile or worse by taking the place; and the Republican electoral tickets had no place or only a nominal one south of Mason and Dixon's line, except in Missouri, where the emancipation idea was still alive. But the three other parties contested with each other in all the States. In Massachusetts, the Breckinridge party had as its candidate for Gov
ernor the unscrupulous Butler; and among its supporters was Caleb Cushing, erudite, brilliant, conscienceless, and a pro-slavery bigot. At the South, the Douglas party had considerable strength. The hot-heads who had split the Democracy and were ready to divide the nation had by no means an undisputed ascendency. Stephens and Toombs parted company; they headed respectively the Douglas and Breckinridge electoral tickets in Georgia. Davis spent part of the summer in privacy at the North; he saw enough to convince him that the North would fight if challenged, but the warning was in vain.
The special interest of the campaign centered in the menace of disunion. The territorial question in itself had grown almost wearisome, and had no immediate application. The fugitive slave law had fallen into the background; renditions were so uncertain and dangerous that they were seldom attempted. John Brown's foray was to the North a bygone affair, with no dream of its repetition. The few promoters of his project had shrunk back at the catastrophe; the mass of the people had always looked on it as a crazy affair; and with personal sympathy or honor for him, the raid was almost forgotten, but the South could not so easily forget. But the living and burning issue was the threat of secession if Lincoln should be elected,-a threat made openly and constantly at the South. The campaign was full of bitterness. “ Black Republicans ” was a term in constant use. The violent language was not all at the South. Cushing declared, when in the preceding autumn Massachusetts reëlected Banks as governor, “A band of drunken mutineers have seized hold of the opinion of this commonwealth—the avowed and proclaimed enemies of the Constitution of the United States,”—with further hysteric talk about the ship of state, with the pirate's flag at the masthead, drifting into the gulf of perdition. The New York Herald was full of
wild and inflammatory words. Papers of a different character-like the Boston Courier, representative of the party which included Everett and Winthrop—habitually charged the Republican party with John Brownism and disunionism. The South not unnaturally believed that the North was seriously divided, and could never hold together against its claims. But most Northern people regarded the disunion threats as mere gasconade,-meant only to carry an election, and then to be quietly dropped. But if they were meant in earnest,—well, there would be something to be said, and done too, on the other side.
Douglas, with almost no chance of success, made a bold and active canvass. Through this year he showed a courage far higher than the mere dexterity which had been his chief distinction before. In part, it was an expression of a changing temper in the people. He stood openly and stoutly for the principle of majority rule. While speaking at Wheeling, Va., he was questioned as to whether he held that the election of Lincoln would justify secession. He answered promptly that it would not, and if secession were attempted, he would support a Republican President in putting it down by force. That pledge to the country he redeemed, when at the outbreak of the war he gave his immediate and full adherence to President Lincoln,--representing and leading the “War Democrats " who practically solidified the North, and insured its victory. At Wheeling, he passed on the question answered by him for Breckinridge to answer. But Breckinridge ignored the challenge,-a silence which was what the lawyers call a "pregnant negative."
November brought victory to the Republicans. In the popular vote, Lincoln had about 1,860,000; Douglas, 1,370,000; Breckinridge, 840,000; and Bell, 590,000. The electoral votes stood-or would have stood, if the electoral conventions had all met—Lincoln, 180; Breckinridge, 72; Bell, 39;
Douglas, 12. Lincoln carried every Northern State except New Jersey; Douglas, only part of New Jersey and Missouri; Bell, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee; Breckinridge, all the rest of the South. The successful candidate was thus in a popular minority,—no new thing. The distinctively Southern candidate was doubly in a minority. The supporters of Lincoln, Douglas and Bell, were all to be counted against the extreme Southern claim, and much more against any assertion of that claim by secession. Unitedly, their support outnumbered that of Breckinridge by more than four to one. If ever a party was fairly and overwhelmingly out-voted, it was the party whose central doctrine was that slavery must be protected in the United States territories.
Now the question was, would that party acquiesce in the decision of the majority? At every previous election in the nation's history the minority had acquiesced promptly and loyally. When Jefferson was elected, New England looked on the new President as a Jacobin in politics and an infidel in religion. But New England acquiesced without an hour's hesitation. When Jackson was chosen, his opponents saw in him a rude and ignorant demagog. But the antiJackson people accepted the new President as they had accepted Monroe and Adams. In the choice of Buchanan, the Republicans saw an assertion of the nationalism of slavery, and a menace of the subjugation of Kansas. But the supporters of Fremont recognized Buchanan as unhesitatingly as if he had been their own choice. What was the meaning of popular government, except that the minority should submit to the legitimate victory of the majority? On what did the nation's existence rest, but the loyalty of its citizens to the nation's self-determination in its elections ? And now, would the minority resist the decision of the majority? Would the Southern States attempt to break up