September ~ Election Year 1856

Woman making American Flag

Perhaps with an eye on advancement within the party, Lincoln works quite actively for the the Republican ticket. Radical abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison find no satisfaction with the Republicans or the Democrats or the Whigs, calling for the total and immediate end of slavery. Some fear dissolution of the country by Southern secession.

September 4– Thursday– Atlanta, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech in support of Fremont to a large crowd.

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September 5– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “If those who are so anxious to know what is our position in regard to the approaching presidential election would but consult a single number of The Liberator,(or, better still, subscribe for the paper for a limited period,) they would need no letters from us to enlighten them in the manner solicited. Our Meadville correspondent is confident that our views are much misrepresented, and he is right in his belief. By pseudo-Democratic journals, we are charged with advocating the election of Fremont; and by the Republican organs, we are held up as the partisans of Buchanan! The falsehood and dishonesty of such representations are well understood by those who put them in circulation. For more than a dozen years, we have uniformly reprobated all political action under the Constitution of the United States, and at all times branded that instrument as ‘a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,’—strenuously and solemnly urging upon the people of the North the duty of dissolving this blood-stained union, by the highest moral and religious considerations,—and, therefore, beseeching every true friend of freedom to stand outside of the government, and labor for its overthrow—thus nobly acting upon the doctrine and advice of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that ‘when any form of government becomes destructive,’ of the ‘inalienable rights’ set forth in that document, ‘it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,’ and ‘to provide new guards for their future security.’ Of course, entertaining such sentiments and avocation such a procedure as the test of fidelity to the cause of the oppressed, we are neither for Fremont, nor Buchanan, nor Fillmore, nor any other person to fill the Presidential chair, but for DISUNION as the great and first duty to be performed—as the only issue which can prevail against the Slave Power, and give liberty to the millions in bondage.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison’s editorial in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 6– Saturday– Jacksonville, Illinois– Lincoln delivers a speech urging support for Fremont and encouraging anti-slavery Democrats not to vote for Buchanan but to support Fremont.

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Lawyer Lincoln

 

September 8– Monday– Springfield, Illinois– “I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to you that every vote withheld from Fremont, and given to Fillmore, in this state, actually lessens Fillmore’s chance of being President. Suppose Buchanan gets all the slave states, and Pennsylvania, and any other one state besides; then he is elected, no matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore gets the two slave states of Maryland and Kentucky; then Buchanan is not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives, and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose again Fillmore’s friends throw away a few thousand votes on him, in Indiana and Illinois, it will inevitably give these states to Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the loss of Maryland and Kentucky; will elect him, and leave Fillmore no chance in the House of Representatives or out of it. This is as plain as the adding up of the weights of three small hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Illinois for himself, it is plainly his interest to let Fremont take it, and thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this race. Let him have Illinois, and nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois, if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some one persuade, you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense! There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing Buchanan, only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the proportion of the voters. If not, tell me why. Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two at least, are supported, in part, by the Buchanan men, as I understand. Do not they know where the shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore they help it. Do think these things over, and then act according to your judgment.” ~ Form letter from Abraham Lincoln sent to Fillmore supporters.

September 10– Wednesday– New York City– “It’s said a Fremont electoral ticket will be run in several Southern states, including Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. It probably won’t be permitted by the oligarchy of little barbarous princes to which the white trash of the South is subject.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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George Templeton Strong

 

September 11– Thursday– New York City– “Long discourse with Walter Cutting . . . [who] considers that the South will secede if Fremont’s elected. Which the South won’t, as long as Southern gentlemen can make a little money going to Congress.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 12– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Every Presidential campaign is a time of temptation and peril to these who are sincerely laboring for the abolition of slavery is our land; because there is always same difference in the candidates put in nomination, and in the position of the rival parties, touching the great question at large; and it is scarcely possible to see such a struggle, without wishing success to one side, and hoping for the defect of the other. Where the lines are broadly drawn—where a geographical conflict in going on, (made so by the Slave Power itself in its effort to extend its domains indefinitely,)—as at the present time, the temptation to join the party which is struggling for the right, and to achieve a most desirable victory, become irresistible to many, whose abhorrence of slavery cannot be doubted, but whose moral philosophy is to some extent defective, or who are unable to take broad and comprehensive views of the whole subject, or who are impelled by their feeling rather then by a clear perception of duty. As against Buchanan and Fillmore, it seems to us, the sympathies and best wishes of every enlightened friend of freedom must be on the side of Fremont; so that if there were no moral barrier to our voting, and we had a million votes to bestow, we should cast them all for the Republican candidate. We hail the results of the resent selections in Iowa, Vermont and Mains as cheering proofs of a growing change in public sentiment at the North, favorable to the cause of freedom generally; and so they will be regarded by the slave oligarchy, to a man. Justly open to censure as the Republican party is, on other grounds, it is deserving of commendation for endeavoring to baffle the designs of the Slave Power in regard to our vast territorial possessions at the West. One step in the right direction is better then inaction; how much better than twenty steps (as taken by the Democratic party) in the opposite direction! Nevertheless, it seems as clear to as now, as it did ten years ago, that the best service that can be rendered to the millions who are in bondage at the South—to the territories which are yet to be inhabited—to the cause of freedom every where; nay, that the highest duty that can be performed with references to the present and the future,—is to refuse to continue in alliance with the slaveholding South, and to trample in the dust the iniquitous compact made by our fathers. Indeed, we see so other alternative left to us.” ~ The Liberator.

September 13– Saturday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Birth of Maria Louise Baldwin, African American educator, lecturer and civic leader. [Dies January 9, 1922.]

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Maria Louise Baldwin

 

September 14– Sunday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your much valued letter of the 7th is received. Could you not be with us here on the 25th of this month, when we expect to have a large mass-meeting? We cannot dispense with your services in this contest; and we ought, in a pecuniary way, to give you some relief in the difficulty of having your house burnt.” ~ Letter from Lincoln to Frederick Hecker. [Hecker, 1811– 1881, was a leader of the 1848 Revolution in Germany who fled to the United States after the revolution failed. At this time he is active in the Republican Party, encouraging German immigrants to vote for Fremont and to stand against slavery.]

September 17– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party National Convention opens and adopts a platform. “Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States are assembled here by reverence for the Constitution, and unalterable attachment to the National Union, and a fixed determination to do all in their power to preserve it for themselves and posterity. They have no new principles to announce—no new platform to establish, but are content broadly to rest where their fathers have rested upon the Constitution of the United States, wishing no safer guide, no higher law. Resolved, That we regard with the deepest anxiety the present disordered condition of our national affairs. A portion of the country being ravaged by civil war and large sections of our population embittered by mutual recriminations, and we distinctly trace these calamities to the culpable neglect of duty by the present National Administration. Resolved, That the Government of these United States was formed by the conjunction in political unity of widespread geographical sections, materially differing not only in climate and products, but in their social and domestic institutions, and that any cause that shall permanently array these sections in political hostility and organized parties, founded only on geographical distinctions must inevitably prove fatal to the continuance of the National Union. Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States have declared as a fundamental article of their political faith, the absolute necessity for avoiding geographical parties; that the danger so clearly discerned by the “Father of his Country,” founded on geographical distinction, has now become fearfully apparent in the agitation convulsing the nation, which must be arrested at once if we would preserve our Constitutional Union from dismemberment, and the name of America from being blotted out from the family of civilized nations. Resolved, That all who revere the Constitution and Union, must look with alarm at the parties in the field in the present Presidential campaign—one claiming only to represent sixteen Northern States, and the other appealing to the passions and prejudices of the Southern States—that the success of either faction must add fuel to the flame which now threatens to wrap our dearest interest in a common ruin. Resolved, That the only remedy for an evil so appalling is to support the candidate pledged to neither geographical section nor arrayed in political antagonism, but holding both in just and equal regard; that we congratulate the friends of the Union that such a candidate exists in Millard Fillmore. Resolved, That, without adopting or referring to the peculiar principles of the party which has already selected Millard Fillmore as their candidate, we look to him as a well-tried and faithful friend of the Constitution and the Union, eminent alike for his wisdom and firmness, for his justice and moderation in foreign relations, for his calm and pacific temperament, well becoming a great and enlightened Government. For his devotion to the Constitution in its true spirit, and his inflexibility in executing the laws; but, beyond all these attributes, of being representative of neither of the two sectional parties now struggling for political supremacy. Resolved, That in the present exigency of political affairs, we are not called upon to discuss subordinate questions of administration in exercising the Constitutional powers of government. It is enough to know that civil war is raging, and the Union is in peril; and proclaim a conviction that the restoration of the Fillmore Presidency will furnish the best if not the only means of restoring peace.”

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September 19– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “But the hour is coming when the strongest will not be strong enough. A harder task will the new revolution of the nineteenth century be, than was the revolution of the eighteenth century. I think the American Revolution bought its glory cheap. If the problem was new, it was simple. If there were few people, they were united, and the enemy3000 miles off. But now, vast property, gigantic interests, family connections, webs of party, cover the land with a net-work that immensely multiples the dangers of war. Fellow citizens, in these times full of the fate of the Republic, I think the towns should hold town meetings, and resolve themselves into Committees of Safety, go into permanent sessions, adjourning from week to week, from month to month. I wish we would send the Sergeant-at-Arms to stop every American who is about to leave the country. Send home every one who is abroad, lest he should find no country to return to. Come home and stay at home, while there is a country to save. When it is lost, it will be time enough then for any who are luckless enough to remain alive, to gather up their clothes and depart to some land where freedom exists.” ~ Speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson given ten days ago and reprinted in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 21– Sunday– New York City– “The pestilent little state of South Carolina, mad with metaphysics and self-conceit, gasconading itself day by day into greater wrath and keener sense of imaginary wrong, means to secede if the North elect Fremont. . . . If it stand alone, it is easily dealt with; a couple of frigates can blockade its ports, and it will be starved into submission in about two weeks, being as poor and weak as it is insolent and irrational. But should it find aid and comfort from the sympathy of other slave states, which is not an improbable thing, if it put itself forward as champion of ‘Southern rights,’ the situation becomes a grave one and admits of but two probable solutions: a long and fierce civil war, or, what’s worse, dissolution of the Union.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 25– Thursday– New York City– “Politics engross everybody’s thoughts and talk, more and more daily.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 27– Saturday– New York City– “Nothing fresh in politics. George Cornell counts on 50,000 majority for Fremont in the state, allowing 10,000 majority the other way in this city. Dubious.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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September 28– Sunday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Kate Smith Wiggin, author, educator and advocate of kindergarten education. [Dies August 24, 1923.]

September 30– Tuesday– New York City– “I don’t count on success in this election, but I think it’s time now for everybody at the North to aid, as far as he can, any decent party that aims at putting down the aggressions and assumptions of our Southern friends, and try to bring them to reason.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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