President of the United States
In 1860 there were four candidates for
The great Democratic Party was divided into two branches.
nominated Stephen A. Douglas. The other branch, which included
larger number of the slave-owners of the South, nominated John
Breckinridge, of Kentucky.
The remnant of the old Whig Party,
now called the "Union
nominated John Bell, of Tennessee.
The Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln.
In November came the election, and a majority of all the electors
were for Lincoln.
The people of the cotton-growing states believed that, by
the Northern people intended to deprive them of their rights.
believed that the anti-slavery people intended to do much more
prevent the extension of slavery. They believed that the abolitionists
were bent upon passing laws to deprive them of their slaves.
Wild rumors were circulated concerning
the designs which the "Black
Republicans," as they were called, had formed for their
oppression. They declared that they would never submit.
And so, in December, the people of South Carolina met in convention,
declared that that state had seceded from the Union--that they
longer be citizens of the United States. One by one, six other
followed - and they united to form a new government, called
Confederate States of America.
It had long been held by the men of the South that a state
had the right
to withdraw from the Union at any time. This was called the
The Confederate States at once chose Jefferson Davis for their
President, and declared themselves free and independent.
In February, Mr. Lincoln went to Washington to be inaugurated.
enemies openly boasted that he should never reach that city
alive - and
a plot was formed to kill him on his passage through Baltimore.
took an earlier train than the one appointed, and arrived at
On the 4th of March he was inaugurated. In his address at
that time he
said: "In your hands, my dissatisfied countrymen, and
not in mine, is
the momentous issue of civil war. Your government will not
You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.
have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government -
shall have the most solemn one to protect and defend it."
The Confederate States demanded that the government should
give up all
the forts, arsenals, and public property within their limits.
President Lincoln refused to do. He said that he could not
these states had withdrawn from the Union, or that they could
without the consent of the people of the United States, given
And so, in April, the Confederate guns were turned upon Fort
Charleston harbor, and the war was begun. President Lincoln
call for 75,000 men to serve in the Army for three months -
parties prepared for the great contest.
It is not my purpose to give a history of that terrible war
years. The question of slavery was now a secondary one. The
men of one
party were determined, at whatever hazard, to preserve the
men of the other party fought to defend their doctrine of States'
Rights, and to set up an independent government of their own.
President Lincoln was urged to use his power and declare all
free. He answered:
"My paramount object is to save
the Union, and not either to save or
"If I could save the Union without
freeing any slave, I would do it. If
I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. If
save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also
At last, however, when he saw that the success of the Union
depended upon his freeing the slaves, he decided to do so.
On the 1st
of January, 1863, he issued a proclamation declaring that the
all the states or parts of states then in rebellion, should
By this proclamation, more than three millions of colored
given their freedom.
But the war still went on. It reached a turning point, however,
battle of Gettysburg, in July, that same year. From that time
of the Confederate States was on the wane. Little by little
patriots, who were struggling for the preservation of the Union,