Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lincoln Becomes A National Figure

       For several years Lincoln was absorbed in his practice, but the great slavery controversy, ever growing more intense, could not fail to awaken his interest in political issues. In 1854 he publicly announced his opposition to Senator Stephen A. Douglas, father of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill and of the doctrine of squatter sovereignty, and his speeches on the subject were so logical and forcible that the Whigs in the state legislature chose him as their candidate for Senator. Lincoln was not elected, but his friends, by combining with the anti-slavery Democrats, elected Lyman Trumbull, who was opposed to Douglas. In the organization of the new Republican party Lincoln stood out as the leading figure from Illinois, and in the national convention of 1856 his name was mentioned for Vice-President.
       Two years later came the famous Lincoln, Douglas debates, by which, though defeated in his candidacy for the Senate, Lincoln attracted the attention of the whole country. In them he displayed not only admirable sincerity and insight, but exceptional political shrewdness, and it was not long before his name was prominently mentioned as a candidate for President. His famous Cooper Union speech in 1860 at New York made him the most conspicuous figure in Republican politics, and at the convention at Chicago, after a spirited contest with Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates, he was nominated upon a vigorous anti-slavery platform. The campaign which followed was one of the most momentous in the history of the United States. The Democratic party, having been disorganized and divided, presented two candidates, Douglas and Breckenridge, while the Constitutional Union party, which took a neutral stand, nominated John Bell. Lincoln secured 180 electoral votes out of a total of 303, and his popular vote was 1,866,452. He lacked almost a million votes of a majority.
       His election was the signal for secession by South Carolina, - which had long contemplated the possibility of such a step if the demands of the slavery faction were not heeded. The action was taken in December, and South Carolina was followed by the Gulf States and within a few months by four others. Lincoln was inaugurated March 4, 1861, and in a memorable address he urged the people of all sections to unite in upholding the Union. He called to his Cabinet all his principal rivals in the Chicago convention, and by every means in his power he sought to avert a civil war, which seemed inevitable. His efforts were in vain, however, and on April 14th  the war began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

"A short video that showcases Fort Sumter National Monument (Where the American Civil War began April 12th 1861). 150 years ago. Produced by Garrett Johnston Productions. Expert Commentary from Park Rangers Donel"

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