candidates and more to the great issues at stake, Briefly stated, the Republican
platform was a declaration that “the new dogma, that the Constitution
carries slavery into all the Territories
, is a dangerous political heresy, revolutionary in tendency and subversive of the peace and harmony of the country; that the normal condition of all the Territories
is that of freedom; that neither Congress, the territorial legislature, nor any individual can give legal existence to slavery in any territory; that the opening of the slave trade would be a crime against humanity.”
Resolutions favoring a homestead law, river and harbor improvements, and the Pacific railroad were also included in the platform.
With these the Republicans, as a lawyer would say, went to the country.
The campaign which followed was one with few parallels in American history.
There was not only the customary exultation and enthusiasm over candidates, but there was patient listening and hard thinking among the masses.
The slavery question, it was felt, must soon be decided.
Threats of disunion were the texts of many a campaign speech in the South
: in fact, as has since been shown, a deep laid conspiracy to overthrow the Union
was then forming, and was only awaiting the election of a Republican President
to show its hideous head.
The Democratic party was struggling under the demoralizing effects of a split, in which even the Buchanan
administration had taken sides.
, the nominee of one wing, in his desperation had entered into the canvass himself, making speeches with all the power and eloquence at his