On this day 150 years ago…

The election of President Lincoln in 1860 shook the country to its foundations.  All of us are aware of the interstate struggle that had been going on for several years regarding the admission and status of states to the growing Union.  As early as a month after the election of 1860, John Bell of Tennessee had this to say about President-Elect Lincoln and his party:

NASHVILLE, Dec. 6, 1860.

That I do not unjustly charge the Republican Party with having adopted a policy which, in its character, tendency and practical operation, is in conflict with the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution, can be made manifest in a very few words. One of the most important objects to be accomplished by the adoption of the Constitution, as declared in the preamble, was to “insure domestic tranquility;” and the power was expressly given to the Federal Government by that instrument, to “suppress insurrections.” The simple announcement to the public that a great party at the North, opposed to Slavery, has succeeded in electing its candidate for the Presidency, disguise it as we may, is well calculated to raise expectations among the slaves, and might lead to servile insurrections in the Southern States. If such an event, which is more than possible, should really happen, it might become the duty of Mr. LINCOLN to restore the tranquility which the policy of his party had disturbed, and to suppress an insurrection which the same policy had excited.

Senator Bell, Kentucky’s choice in 1860 for the Presidency, no doubt served up some sour-grapes in this piece but I will add it to the various other bits of unwitting prophecy on the coming years.

Even the winning Republicans had to urge for calm and “fraternal feeling”.  President-elect Lincoln was called on during the evening of November 20th by “a large procession of Wide-Awakes” to which he offered the following:

“FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: Please excuse me on this occasion from making a speech. I thank you for the kindness and compliment of this call. I thank you, in common with all others who have thought fit by their votes to indorse the Republican cause. [Applause.] I rejoice with you in the success which has so far attended that cause. [Applause.] Yet in all our rejoicings, let us neither express nor cherish any harsh feelings towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. [Loud cheering.] Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling. [Immense applause.] Let me again beg you to accept my thanks, and to excuse me from further speaking at this time.”

Mr. Lincoln was well aware of what he was facing with his ascension to the Whitehouse.  His brief, middle of the road, remarks to the gaggle of supporters showed a sensitivity that those same supporters would ignore in the coming months.

Illinois effectively split her vote between Lincoln and Douglas to no great surprise.  Kentucky thumbed her nose at her native son with less than 1% showing up for Lincoln.  The other 99% apparently not just voting against him but tossing out anyone who may have voted for him.  This from the Chicago Tribune(click to read in total):

It seems that Mr. Ambrose, on this very day 150 years ago, was discharged of his duties as Secretary with Breckinridge Coal Company at Cloverport, KY due to his support of Mr. Lincoln.  The Tribune seems frustrated claiming he was released “for no other reason than that he head exercised the right of a freeman to vote for the man of his choice for President”.    I suspect that Mr. Ambrose may well have been overly proud of his choice, the victory, and what everyone knew to be the future of the country.  Had Mr. Ambrose been in the mountainous parts of our Commonwealth, he may well have never been heard from again.

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