“There was no room for uncertainty as to the significance of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, in 1860, by a party exclusively sectional in organization, and upon a platform, which virtually declared the Union, as then constituted, in opposition to justice, humanity and civilization.
The real danger to the South, involved in this election, was that it was a sectional triumph – a victory of North over South, in a contest where the South risked every thing, the North nothing. From time immemorial sincere patriots of both sections had deprecated the formation of sectional parties, organized upon geographical interests, or upon ideas confined to limited portions of the Union.
Washington, in his farewell injunction, admonished his countrymen of the deplorable results which must follow the presentation of such issues.
The Chicago platform was more than a menace to the South; it was a defiance of law, a declaration of war upon the Constitution. The election of Lincoln was both a legal and moral severance of the bonds of Union. While he received the united vote of the north, save New Jersey, he did not receive one electoral vote from the South.
His shaping of his administration was consistent with the character of the party which elected him. All his constitutional advisors were Northern men or Southern Abolitionists; social outlaws in their own section, in consequence of their notorious personal depravity, and infidelity to their immediate fellow-citizens. Of like character were the subordinate appointments of the Federal Government in Southern communities.
Nor was there reason to doubt the policy of the Government under its new management. Mr. Lincoln had been sufficiently communicative of his own bitter hostility to Southern institutions. In fact, with much show of justice, his admirers claimed for him the original suggestion of the idea of an “irrepressible conflict,” afterwards so elaborately pronounced by William H. Seward.
Public announcements, from prominent speakers of the successful party, amply revealed the feast to which the South was invited. Wendell Phillips . . . pointedly defined the situation: “No man has a right to be surprised at this state of things. It is just what we have attempted to bring about. It is the first sectional party ever organized in this country. It does not know its own face, and calls itself national; but it is not national – it is sectional. The Republican party is a party of the North pledged against the South.”
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