The Election of 1860
In April 1860, the Democratic party assembled in Charleston, South Carolina to select a presidential nominee. Southern delegates insisted that the party endorse a federal code to guarantee the rights of slaveholders in the territories. When the convention rejected the proposal, delegates from the deep South walked out. The remaining delegates reassembled six weeks later in Baltimore and selected Stephen Douglas as their candidate. Southern Democrats proceeded to choose John
C. Breckinridge as their presidential nominee.
In May, the Constitutional Union party, which consisted of conservative former Whigs, Know Nothings, and pro-Union Democrats nominated John Bell of Tennessee for President. This short-lived party denounced sectionalism and tried to rally support around a platform that supported the Constitution and Union. Meanwhile, the Republican party nominated Abraham Lincoln on the third ballot.
The 1860 election revealed how divided the country had become. There were actually two separate sectional campaigns: one in the North, pitting Lincoln against Douglas, and one in the South between Breckinridge and Bell. Only Stephen Douglas mounted a truly national campaign. The Republicans did not campaign in the South and Lincoln's name did not appear on the ballot in ten states.
In the final balloting, Lincoln won only 39.9 percent of the popular vote, but received 180 electoral college votes, 57 more than the combined total of his opponents.
South Carolina Leaves the Union
Convinced that a Republican administration would attempt to undermine slavery by appointing antislavery judges, postmasters, military officers, and other officials, a secession convention in South Carolina voted unanimously to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. The convention issued a declaration in which it attempted to justify its decision. Drawing on arguments developed by John C. Calhoun, the convention held that the states were sovereign entities that could leave the Union as freely as they joined. Among the many indictments of the northern states and people, nothing seems more central than the issue of trust with respect to the capture and return of fugitive slaves.
James L. Petigru (1789-1863), a staunch South Carolina unionist, reportedly responded to the Palmetto State's actions by saying that his state was too small for a country and too large for an insane asylum.
In just three weeks, between January 9, 1861 and February 1, six states of the Deep South joined South Carolina in leaving the Union: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Unlike South Carolina, where secessionist sentiment was almost universal, there was significant opposition in the other states. Although an average of 80 percent of the delegates at secession conventions favored immediate secession, the elections at which these delegates were chosen were very close, particularly in Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana. To be sure, many voters who opposed immediate secession were not unconditional Unionists. But the resistance to immediate secession did suggest that some kind of compromise was still possible.
In the Upper South, opposition to secession was even greater. In Virginia, on February 4, opponents of immediate secession received twice as many votes as proponents, while Tennessee voters rejected a call for a secession convention.
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Civil War (Občianska vojna v USA) - complete version
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Zdroje: Digital History