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Douglas and Breckinridge respectively stood on the other of the two questions (slavery) needs no further indication here. The Bell party made the Union its specialty, leaving slavery unmentioned in its platform.
There were to be some State elections at the South in July and August, and at the North in September and October. So far as the Republicans were directly concerned, it mattered little how North Carolina or Kentucky should vote; yet the posture of those States on the Union question, to be judged from those elections, was of general interest. In Vermont and Maine, which held elections in September, there was no doubt of large Republican majorities, yet their relative magnitude in comparison with those of previous years might show the direction of the popular tide. The October elections in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana would be of great significance. There was thus something to look forward to, from month to month, to relieve the monotony of waiting for the final event in November.
Kentucky and North Carolina, conservative Union States as they were, in their elections confirmed very conclusively that the South in general would give no substantial support to Douglas. His friends had not been able to control the Democratic organization in any slave-holding State but Missouri. Bell and Breckinridge were the competitors between whom the Southern vote would be chiefly divided, and the summer elections favored Bell.
Maine and Vermont, early in September, elected Republican Governors by majorities which showed a marked increase of party strength. In Ohio, a month after, there were Republican gains. But the most
convincing signs were the election of Mr. Curtin as Governor of Pennsylvania, by more than 32,000 majority, and of Colonel Henry S. Lane as Governor of Indiana by nearly 10,000; while in both these States the entire opposition was united against the Republican candidates.
As to New York there was anxiety. In previous years disaster had sometimes rather unexpectedly overtaken Whig or Republican candidates in that State who had been nominated against the wishes of Thurlow Weed. That gentleman had been almost heart-broken over Seward's defeat, and left Chicago in a gloomy mood, seemingly inconsolable, but was prevailed upon to visit Springfield before returning East. An interview with Lincoln so favorably impressed the sagacious visitor that he soon entered heartily into his support. Before the canvass ended, Seward himself actively joined in the work, making several speeches and rally. ing his friends.
But all danger was not over in New York — the State on whose vote so many Presidential elections have turned, and whose aid seemed now indispensable. The commercial metropolis was growing nervous about the result and the future. The Democratic leaders there were putting forth every possible exertion to divert the electoral vote of the State from Lincoln. Finally, a fusion ticket was made up, on the plea of averting imminent peril to the Union, the electoral candidates being distributed, on agreed terms, between the three other Presidential candidates. Would not this combination obtain a clear majority in the State?
Other like fusions were made. The three opposing parties in New Jersey formed a common electoral ticket; and in Rhode Island there was a combination between the partisans of Douglas and Breckinridge. Even in Pennsylvania the latter experiment was tried, despite the defeat of a fusion State ticket in October.
Mr. Seward, in a speech at his home in Auburn, November 5th — the eve of the Presidential election — told his auditors that “amid the jargon of these discordant members of the Fusion party” they would have but one argument; “ and that argument is, that so sure as you are so perverse as to cast your vote singly, lawfully, honestly, as you ought to do, for one candidate for the Presidency, instead of scattering it among three candidates, so that no President may be elected, this Union shall come down over your heads, involving you and us in a common ruin! ... But I tell them ... that, when to-morrow's sun shall have set, and the next morning's sun shall have risen on the American people, rejoicing in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, these men who to-day sympathize with, uphold, support and excuse the disunionists, will have to make a sudden choice, and choose whether, in the language of the Senator from Georgia, they will go for treason, and so make it respectable, or whether they will go with us for Freedom, for the Constitution, and for the eternal Union.”
On the night of the 6th of November, as the telegraph reported at Springfield the vote of State after State, amid the cheers and congratulations of his friends, Lincoln waited at the Republican headquarters, hopeful but not quite secure, until a late hour, unwilling to go home without something fully conclusive from New
York. At last it came from a source that could be implicitly trusted. Fusion was beaten in the great State beyond a doubt: a majority of the electoral votes of the nation was sure for Abraham Lincoln.
Every free State save New Jersey had chosen Republican electors; and even in New Jersey (where the mixed electoral ticket had three candidates for Douglas, two for Breckinridge, and two for Bell), the combination had not been perfect, only the Douglas electors being chosen, leaving the other four to Lincoln. In Illinois he had nearly 12,000 over Douglas on the popular vote, and a clear majority of all, Bell having but 4,913, and Breckinridge, 2,404; in Pennsylvania a clear majority of over 66,000; and in New York more than 50,000 over the united opposition. In the border States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, the Republican vote numbered altogether but 26,430; and there was no Republican electoral ticket put in nomination in any other slave-holding State. In the free States Lincoln's total vote was 1,831,180; in all, 1,857,610. Breckinridge had in the North, including estimates of his share of the Fusion votes, an aggregate of 279,211; and Douglas , had in the whole South, 163,525 — of which more than one-third were cast in Missouri, where his friends had secured the regular Democratic organization. Bell carried Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee distinctly on the Union issue. Lincoln and Bell each carried his own State, and Douglas and Breckinridge were both beaten in theirs. In the whole South, Breckinridge had but 54,898 more votes than Bell, and was, on the whole vote of the slaveholding States, in an actual minority of over 135,000.
The whole number of electoral votes at the time was 303; of which the aggregate carried for Lincoln was 180; for Breckinridge, 72; for Bell, 39, and for Douglas, 12.
The Chicago Convention had not counted too carefully on the importance of Pennsylvania, Indiana and New Jersey. Did the opponents of Seward's nomination count as justly as Lincoln subsequently did on the hazard of offending New York? Without that State he would not have had a majority of the electoral vote, but barely 145, while the number required for a choice was 152. Without the 27 votes of Pennsylvania and the 4 received from New Jersey, he would have had
- carrying New York and every other free State — but 149. With the loss of Pennsylvania and Indiana
– to say nothing of the effect of their adverse verdict in October upon other States — he would have had but 140.
In any of these contingencies the election of President would have devolved upon the House of Representatives — with what result, as parties were then shaped, is not at all certain, and it is useless to conjecture. The choice of Vice President would have been made by the Democratic Senate, which had so lately declared for Federal protection to slavery in the Territories.