fact that he had been elected to the United States Senate when California
applied for admission as a free State, and that the resistance of the South
to her admission had been the entering wedge of the slavery agitation of 1850.
This, however, was in reality a minor consideration.
It was rather his romantic fame as a daring Rocky Mountain
explorer, appealing strongly to popular imagination and sympathy, which gave him prestige as a presidential candidate.
It was at this point that the career of Abraham Lincoln
had a narrow and fortunate escape from a premature and fatal prominence.
The Illinois Bloomington convention had sent him as a delegate to the Philadelphia
convention; and, no doubt very unexpectedly to himself, on the first ballot for a candidate for Vice-President
he received one hundred and ten votes against two hundred and fifty-nine votes for William L. Dayton
of New Jersey
, upon which the choice of Mr. Dayton
was at once made unanimous.
But the incident proves that Mr. Lincoln
was already gaining a national fame among the advanced leaders of political thought.
Happily, a mysterious Providence
reserved him for larger and nobler uses.
The nominations thus made at Philadelphia
completed the array for the presidential battle of 1856.
The Democratic national convention had met at Cincinnati
on June 2, and nominated James Buchanan
and John C. Breckinridge
Its work presented two points of noteworthy interest, namely: that the South
, in an arrogant proslavery dictatorship, relentlessly cast aside the claims of Douglas
, who had effected the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
, and nominated Buchanan
, in apparently sure confidence of that superserviceable zeal in behalf of slavery which he so obediently