Douglas, Deadlock, & Disunion

In 1860, Southern delegates bolted the Democratic convention at Charleston. An eyewitness describes the first giant step toward secession

 

Late in April, 1860, a strife-ridden Democratic party met at Charleston, South Carolina, to choose a presidential candidate. This was to prove one of the most fateful meetings of its kind in American history. At a time of mounting sectional antagonism, the Democratic party was the one remaining political organization that represented both North and South; its disruption would mean nothing less than a complete, if not irrevocable, division of the Union.

 

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He Did Hold Lincoln’s Hat

Senator Douglas’ act is verified, at last, by first-hand testimony

Did Lincoln, just before he rose to speak, look about in embarrassment for a place to put his new stovepipe hat? Did Senator Douglas, springing forward, bow, say “Permit me,” and then take the hat to hold on his knee during the address? If he did, the act could be symbolic. The leader of northern Democrats, who had polled 1,375,000 votes for President as against Lincoln’s 1,866,000, would thus indicate his readiness to support the new President against southern secessionists.