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PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S ADMINISTRATION.
FROM THE ELECTION, NOV. 8, 1860, TO THE INAUGURATION,
MARCI 4, 1861.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was elected to be President of the United States on the sixth day of November 1860. The preliminary canvass had not been marked by any very extraordinary features. Party lines were a good deal broken up, and four presidential candidates were in the field; but this departure from the ordinary course of party contests had occurred more than once in the previous political history of the country. Mr. LINCOLN was put in nomination by the Republican party, and represented in his life and opinions the precise aim and object for which that party had been formed. He was a native of a slaveholding State; and while he had been opposed to slavery, he bad regarded it as a local institution, the creature of local laws, with which the national government of the United States had nothing whatever to do. But in common with all observant public men, he had watched, with distrust and apprehension, the advance of slavery as an element of political power towards ascendency in the government of the nation, and had cordially co-operated with those who thought it absolutely necessary for the future well-being of the country that this tendency should be checked. He had, therefore, opposed very strenuously the extension of slavery
into the territories, and had asserted the right and the duty of Congress to exclude it by positive legislation therefrom.
The Chicago Convention, which nominated Mr. LINCOLN, adopted a platform of which this was the cardinal feature; but it also took good care to repel the imputation of its political opponents, and to remove the apprehensions of the South, that the party proposed to interfere with slavery in the States whose laws gave it support and protection. It expressly disavowed all authority and all wish for such interference, and declared its purpose to protect the Southern States in the free enjoyment of all their constitutional rights. The Democratic Convention, originally assembled at Charleston, was disposed to make Mr. Douglas its candidate in opposition to Mr. LinCOLN; but this purpose was thwarted by leading politicians of the slaveholding States, who procured the nomination of Mr. BRECKINRIDGE, with full knowledge of the fact that this would divide the Democratic party, and in all probability secure the election of Mr. LINCOLX. Mr. BRECKINRIDGE represented the pro-slavery element of the Democratic party, and asserted the duty of the national government, by a positive exercise of its legislative and executive power, to protect slavery in the territories, against any legislation either of Congress or of the people of the territories themselves, which should seek to impair in any degree the right, alleged to be recognized in the Constitution, of property in slaves. Mr. DOUGLAS supported the theory that the people of the territories, acting through their territorial legislature, had the same right to decide this question for themselves as they had to decide any other; and he represented this principle in opposition to Mr. LINCOLN on the one hand, and Mr. BRECKINRIDGE on the other, in the Presidential canvass. John Bell, of Tennessee, was also made a candidate by the action mainly of men who were dissatisfied with all the existing political parties, and who were alarmed at the probable results of a Presidential election which promised to be substantially sectional in its character. They put forth, therefore, no opinions upon the leading points in controversy; and went into the canvass with “ the Constitution, the Union, and the enforcement of the laws” as their platform, one upon which they could easily have rallied all the people of all sections of the country, but for the fact which they seemed to overlook, that the widest possible differences of opinion prevailed among
the people as to its meaning. : . All sections of the country took part in the election. The Southern States were quite as active and quite as zealous as the Northern in carrying on the canvass. Public meetings were held, the newspaper press South as well as North discussed the issues involved with energy and vigor, and every thing on the surface indicated the usual termination of the contest, the triumph of one party and the peaceful acquiescence of all others. The result, however, showed that this was a mistake. The active and controlling politicians of the Southern States had gone into the canvass with the distinct and well-formed purpose of acquiescing in the result only in the event of its giving them the victory. The election took place on the 6th of November. Mr. Lincoln received the electoral votes of all the free States except New Jersey, which was divided, giving him four votes and Mr. Douglas three. Mr. BRECKINRIDGE received the electoral votes of all the Slave States except Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, which voted for BELL, and Missouri, which voted for Douglas, as did three electors from New Jersey also. Of the popular vote LINCOLN received 1,857,610; Douglas 1,365,976; BRECKINRIDGE 847,953, and Bell 590,631. In the Electoral College LINCOLN received 180 votes, Douglas 12, BRECKINRIDGE 72, and Bell 39.
As soon as the result of the election was known, various movements in the Southern States indicated their purpose of