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The election of Lincoln.

In November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States by a sectional vote and upon strictly sectional issues. The platform of his party, upon which Mr. Lincoln stood, asserted that ‘the normal condition of all the territory of the United States [280] is that of freedom.’ It further declared that no legislative body could ‘give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.’ This claim ignored, or rather set at defiance, the Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court, and indeed the personal liberty bills of many of the Northern States had already nullified that decision and the laws of which it was the interpretation.

The vote by which Mr. Lincoln was elected was a large minority of the popular vote—nearly one million—yet he had a considerable majority in the electoral college. In the Southern States he had no electoral ticket at all; and there, too, was food for grave thought. If, adhering to the mere forms of the Constitution, a man could be elected to the Presidency by a vote strictly sectional and upon one issue, avowedly sectional, why not upon any other, however regardless of the rights and interests of another section? Mr. Lincoln had three competitors for the office of President, and it has often been claimed that his opponents could have defeated him by combining upon a single candidate. This is a great error, and therein is the defect of the electoral system, and it was a threat to the Southern States. The Electoral College at that time consisted of 303 members, making 152 votes necessary to a choice. Mr. Lincoln received 180 votes in all, though in a minority of nearly a million in the popular vote. But in fifteen of the Northern and Western States, having 167 votes in the Electoral College, he had also clear majorities of the popular vote over the combined votes of the three opposing candidates; so in any case he would have had a majority of fifteen in the Electoral College even if there had been but one competitor. Examination of the official figures will prove the correctness of this statement.

[This statement having been called in question, Major Daves, in the Raleigh, N. C., Post of May 24, 1901, offered the following in proof of its correctness]:

States.Lincoln's Majority over all Competitors.Electoral Vote.


New Hampshire,9,0855
New York,50,13635
Rhode Island,4,5374
Fifteen States. Necessary to choice,152

If it be claimed that if the three opposing candidates had withdrawn in favor of a single one to oppose Mr. Lincoln, many persons who supported the latter would have voted for such an one, Honorable Stephen A. Douglas, himself one of the candidates, gives the answer. In reply to such a proposition from Honorable Jefferson Davis, Mr. Douglas said that ‘if he were withdrawn, his friends, mainly Northern Democrats, would join in the support of Mr. Lincoln rather than for any one that should supplant him (Douglas).’ As a matter of fact, a fusion ticket in opposition to Mr. Lincoln was warmly supported in the State of New York, but it was beaten by more than 50,000 majority.

Seven of the Southern States considered this election of a President by a sectional vote upon a sectional issue, a menace to their liberties and interests necessitating a change in their general government? They therefore by convention of the people, and by popular vote, withdrew from the Union of the States, as the only legal and peaceable remedy for sectional differences. Without attempting to argue the question it would seem that these States had sufficient warrant and precedent for their acts in the following words of the Declaration of Independence itself: ‘It is the right of the people to alter, or to abolish, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation in such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.’

Such a new government these States organized and established at Montgomery, Ala., in February, 1861.

The States of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Arkansas were not parties to this movement. It was deemed best to wait [282] further action by the people of the Northern States, or for an ‘overt act,’ as it was termed. In February, 1861, an act of the General Assembly of North Carolina submitted to the vote of our people the question of calling a convention of the people which was to take into consideration the question of the secession of the States from the Union. The interest in this matter and the excitement throughout the State were very great. There were able and active advocates both in favor of, and in opposition to, secession, and the result of the election was the defeat of the call for a convention by the small majority of 194 votes. A vote with a similar result, and by a much larger majority, was also had in Tennessee.

For some reason it has been believed, and often stated, by many of our people that the majority of the State against the call of a convention was very large, some say ‘overwhelming.’ Like many other popular beliefs, and much of so-called history, it has no foundation in fact. The above are the official figures, as may be seen by referring to the published vote of the State, and the proclamation of Governor Ellis announcing the same.

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