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tv   Lectures in History Abraham Lincoln the 1860 Election  CSPAN  December 22, 2020 9:04am-10:18am EST

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you today by your television provider. next on lectures in history, university of nevada, las vegas, professor michael green teaches a class on abraham lincoln in the 1860 presidential election. he describes the political climate, gives background on the other candidates and discusses the deliberations at the party conventions. abe lincoln won the presidency. this class is about an hour 15 minutes. >> well, all right. so we got lincoln's ancestors over here. we got them born. we got them moved around and elected to office and got them married. it is time to elect him president. so today we're going to look at the election of 1860 and using the term everybody's second choice, at the national convention that year in 1860 a lincoln supporter sent a wire
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that said, i think he's going to win the nomination. he's the second choice of everybody. well lincoln himself had a line, my name is new in the field. and i suppose i'm not the first choice of a very great many, our policy then is to give no offense to others, leave them in a mood to come to us if they should be compelled to give up their first love. i know, it kind of gets you right there. giving up your first love. okay. so the themes we're going to be talking about and i'm also going to explain why there is suddenly a book cover in the upper corner, but first of all republicans showed they were not the whig party. they actually ran a very well-organized campaign. at the same time there is an old saying in politics, if your opponent is imploding, don't do anything to stop them.
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in this case, there were some implosions on the part of the other parties involved. and we will get to those as we go along. we'll do a little bit of the background leading up to the 1860 election and we'll talk a bit more about why slavery was a key issue both leading up to the election and then in the outcome. now, this next one kind of might make you stop and think for a second. well, yeah, he was the guy that won the nomination in the election and shouldn't he be doing a lot to win it? and the answer is yes. but at the same time remember in the 19th century you did not openly campaign. a few people did. and it caused them problems. they were not supposed to do that. well lincoln was not open about it.
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or at least too open about it. so he has to be careful. and he has to make sure this doesn't look like he's too far out in front. he can't afford to get out over his skis. i know the thought of lincoln skiing really has some appeal. and finally it's a modern election and a pre-modern election. it's modern in the sense that we're going to see the kinds of things that are designed to get people out to vote, events, activities and so on, you're going to see the media play an important role. at the same time, here is a way to think about it. we expect, in presidential elections these days, that it's possible there is a third party candidate who might get a little traction. but for the most part we don't expect that.
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in 1860, we end up with four parties, basically. and all four are in one way or another viable. it's possible any of them could pull this off. that's not unusual. if you think back to the elections we've talked about where in 1824, a popular election the way we see in 1860. there is more than two candidates. 1836 were the whigs had put three candidates in the field hoping for lightning to strike. and you get in 1844 and '48 third-party candidates and then again in 1856 where they do have an impact. so today, if a third party candidate suddenly ran in 2020, well we would think, wow, this is different. back then, oh, this is a third party candidate, big deal. we've been through this. this is boring. let's move on.
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so in the spirit of what they were saying, let's move on. i have put this book cover up here in bold faced 1860 because a century later a reporter named theodore h. white did a book called "the making of the president: 1960," and today when you watch and read about politics and all of the personalities play such a role and you often hear donald trump does -- he loves fast food. barack obama ate a lot of salad. the kind of things we find out about candidates are attributable to white treating this as a novelistic story. it's nonfiction. but he wrote it beautifully. won the pulitzer prize. there is an element to this in 1860 as well. so we'll look at the making of the president in 1860. there are plenty of books on this subject and most of them
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have come out in the last few years. now, there could be a joke to be done here about whether my favorite historian is on the screen, and he is. yeah. there are other historians here, and i was thinking of some guy's joke, a country singer who said you're asking who my favorite is, and they didn't put any taters on my plate. somebody did obviously. but in this case there is more attention with the centennial back in 2010 so suddenly there is more attention to how did this happen. because lincoln was a most unlikely victor. republican party in the second election. he's never been on the national ballot. he's had one term in the house. how does he get there? so, these books have tried to address that. some more successfully than
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others. i'm not too sure about this one. and we'll try to address that today. so a little background. some reminders. the first time the republican party put a candidate in the field was in 1856 with john c. fremont for whom almost everything in las vegas is named as we know. or if it isn't named for him, he named it. well james buchanan won and the key for republicans was that buchanan carried illinois, indiana and pennsylvania. they were thinking, all right, fremont didn't. if we could get those three states in particular, they like to spread out beyond that, but those three in particular being swing states, if they could get the right man in 1860, they have a chance.
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there's also the third party, the no-nothings, can republicans outpace them? find a way to cut them off. and the answer is the no-nothings kind of cut themselves off. their anti-immigrant but fighting over slavery. the northern no-nothings have a different position than the southern no nothings. and james buchanan was elected. and one of the books about his administration suggested that he didn't do too well. when the book is called "the worst president" and people say, well, gee. people in pennsylvania who are in buchanan country would argue about this probably and i could get into an argument about it myself. but buchanan had a tough four years. the dred scott decision was incredibly controversial as we know and there are divisions in
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the democratic party from kansas and the dred stott decision where steven douglas, that little giant who believes in popular sovereignty, takes the stand that popular sovereignty still stands despite dred scott. and what is going on in kansas, where there is out and out warfare is counter to what they're supposed to do in connection with popular sovereignty and buchanan and douglas split over it. soon after buchanan takes office, a panic breaks out. there is an economic depression or downturn. and let's face facts. the president who is in office when the economy goes south, usually gets a lot of the blame for it. well, buchanan had just been in office a little bit. you can't say he had done that much that quickly.
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but he's going to pay the price as well. it's also the case, there is a book based on the old claim that the people who led to the civil war were the blundering generation. the plundering generation in this story, buchanan's administration was incredibly corrupt. the culmination of it is seen as when he has cabinet officials who are southern sympathizers, southerners themselves sending money and goods and arms into the south or helping the south get ready for the war. but there are a lot of questions about federal contracts, payoffs, that sort of thing. and buchanan and the democratic party face a lot of allegations that they're up to no good. they're crooked. and then, as we're going to see, the slavery issue does not go away with the dred scott decision. john brown's attempt to take
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over harper's ferry and start a slave rebellion or insurrection doesn't exactly work but it certainly upsets a lot of people and gets a lot of people talking about the slavery issue. if they hadn't been already. and, frankly, they should have been. they're certainly talking about it in illinois in 1858. douglas was running for his third term in the senate. he's a national figure. and the republican party in illinois did something that traditionally parties in illinois didn't do. at the state convention, they endorsed their own candidate for the u.s. senate and it was lincoln. douglas knew from 20 years experience how tough it was going to be to take on lincoln. and the debates result when lincoln just starts following
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him around illinois talking whenever douglas finishes speaking and finally they agree to a set of seven debates, and in the course of the debates lincoln is already getting some traction nationally. there are people who know him. he's gotten some votes in the 1856 republican convention for vice president. but in 1858 suddenly he's rocketed to stardom. he's taking on douglas. douglas, for his part, wins reelection, thanks to something we've all heard plenty about. gerrymandering. the 1850 legislative districts were still in effect in 1858, despite a lot of growth in illinois. and lincoln had to win far more seats than he technically should have to get elected.
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it turns out lincoln won more legislative seats than douglas in 1858, remember u.s. senators were elected by the legislature and lincoln won 54-46 but douglas had enough seats there to be able to hold on to his senate seat. one night after the election,
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lincoln is walking along and lincoln could be a bit of a klutz, i guess, one of the things i have to admire about him as a klutz. and as he's walking along and he tripped and had trouble getting himself under control and he thought to himself, it is a slip, not a fall. well, he slipped. he didn't win this election. he was proud that he had taken a stand and he was impressed that he did as well as he did. he felt he made a contribution to the debate. there is a debate among historians as to how much lincoln was targeting 1860. and it's not just the question of could he get elected president. that really wasn't the key thing. could he head off douglas who seemed likely to be the democratic nominee? well, during the debates, douglas said almost in so many words, it is popular sovereignty and dred scott doesn't really matter. and for southerners and southerners dominate the
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democratic party, this is not what they want to hear and it is going to hurt douglas nationally. and sometimes attribute to lincoln the extra motive that he was going to cripple douglas and his chances of win in 1860. well, hmm. i know that we all get tired of endless elections. it seems like they never end. the campaign for 2020 began the night after the 2016 election and so on. it's always been that way. and there is plenty going on in 1859, considered an off year, and as we're going to see lincoln is up to a few things, we'll get to that. but there is a lot going on nationally to where he's headed in 1860. john brown had been in kansas and he goes to virginia, attacks the harper's ferry arsenal or takes it over, is thrown back out and put on trial for treason against the state of virginia, convicted and sentenced to be hanged.
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and southerners are convinced this is all a republican plot. the party's behind this. and there are a few republicans and some are abolitionists, not affiliated with the republicans and not from the standpoint of being members of the republican party anyway, who did help brown. but most republicans are taking the position, no, we don't go for the violent result. we are not in favor of what this guy did. anybody here who has lived up in the bay area? lake merced gets its moment in the sun. david broderick was a senator from california.
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and a douglas man. big douglas supporter, big believer in popular sovereignty. now, remember when california came in the union, the idea was it was a free state, vote with the northern free states. in fact, there were southerners who came to california, big surprise, the gold rush is just going to attract people from one part of the world. no. they're coming from everywhere. and there were plenty of southern politicians in the area and one of them was a lawyer named david terry. and terry and broderick were rivals for power in california democratic politics. and remember there is a bit of that southern honor code and the code duel and lincoln almost got into a duel and jackson fought a duel every second tuesday of the month.
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and they fight a duel at lake merced and terry shoots broderick and kills him. a lot of the country has no idea. it's out in california. there is no tv coverage. nobody texts from the duel. did you see what terry did? but it is certainly noticeable to politicians. and opinion-makers. and it reminds them, just like the beating, the caning of charles sumner, this is a violent issue. and by the way, since we're in nevada i have to mention this. david terry later is still practicing law in california and he ends up in a case against a mining and banking magnate named william sharon who controlled the comstock load. and sharon had had a mistress and there was a big legal fight over whether he agreed to marry
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the mistress and they wind up in court. and the first time the ruling goes against the mistress, she pulls a gun. the next time the ruling is against her she pulls a knife and her attorney terry pulls the gun. later, after they've lost the case and on the train, bump into the judge, a supreme court justice hearing the case, and terry punches the justice. the justice's bodyguard shoots and kills terry. and there were people in california at the time that said it took 25 years but david broderick finally got even. well, i don't know if mr. broderick would have been that thrilled but at the very least it was a violent year. doing okay? okay. what we're going to do is take a look at the other campaigns and candidates, then we'll get to
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the republicans, what lincoln is up to. logically, 1860 is going to be a tough year for the democrats. buchanan is not wildly popular. northern and southern democrats are divided. douglas is the clear front-runner. there are a few other people whose names pop up but it's douglas, and he's controversial. he's bound to run into some problems and he did. so, we have the one real candidate. his real problem at the convention is that under the rules, two-thirds of the delegates needed to vote for him. or for any other nominee.
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where this gets kind of weird, if you think about it, is that douglas considers himself the ideal democrat. lower case "d." popular sovereignty, vote on slavery. well even lincoln makes a comment at one point along the lines of two-thirds doesn't really sound all that democratic. shouldn't it be like 50% plus one? well, yeah, and it is designed to unite the party. as it turns out it is going to help divide the party. so the democrat has a problem with democracy. and the other problem they run into, there are plenty, but the convention is held in charleston, south carolina. how many of you have been to charleston, south carolina? okay. have you been in the late spring, early summer? humid, just a little.
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just a little. or as somebody said of a southern city that gets humid, the bugs are twin engine jobs. it gets a little warm. it is warm and sticky. there is no air-conditioning. it is 1860. there is no deodorant, nothing like that. everybody is hot and unhappy. what's more, the south does not have as much railroad construction as the north. getting to charleston requires a bunch of changes of train. so it is a tough trip. it is hard for them to get there. so then they finally get there. it's warm and humid and then they're going to fight over who they're going to nominate. so they're in trouble. now, lincoln has a theory.
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and his idea is, here is what the democrats should do, if they really want to stick it to douglas. nominate him on the platform he opposes. we're for dread scott and we nominate douglas. then douglas has to say he is for it or against it. he has to take a position. if he has any principle, i can't run on that. if he has no principle, he will offend everybody. lincoln once said of douglas something along the lines of, he does seem to lie more than just about any other man i know. he is not a fan of his. douglas is not a fan of lincoln, but he is an admirer. douglas wants the nomination. the convention divides. it finally breaks up. so they try again. and this time they try it in baltimore, which is a little easier to get to. no offense to charleston, south carolina. it's a lot easier to get to today.
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the northern democrats get together there. the southern democrats will have nothing to do with this. for the most part. and they nominate douglas. and the convention ends up choosing as his running mate a guy from georgia named herschel johnson. many years ago when i had no life, as opposed to now when i have no life, i memorized the vice presidents. what else did i have to do? johnson didn't get there. not many people really wanted to be vice president. in this case, douglas' choice was alexander stevens. who was a far more prominent politician, like johnson, a georgian. stevens did not want to be
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vice president. and he proved how much he hated the vice presidency by becoming the vice president of the confederacy and spending four years fighting with jefferson davis. stevens might have been fun as a vice-president for the union, too. whatever it was, he was going to be in a fight about it. so the idea is, okay, douglas is the northern popular sovereignty guy. johnson is willing to accept it. he's a southerner. it balances the ticket. today we don't think much about that. in terms of geographic balance. in the 19th century in particular, it mattered a lot. the southern democrats say, okay, we're not nominating douglas. they go with john breckenridge.
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trivia break. he was 35. youngest man elected to the vice presidency. if he had been elected, he would have been the youngest. he was buchanan's vice president. he is split with douglas who he had once been at least a quasi ally if not an ally. he runs on the platform of dred scott is fine. we want a slave code for the territories. bring your slaves. the irony is, he is from the upper south. he is from kentucky where the feelings about slavery aren't quite so deep. you want to talk about geographic diversity?
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they choose a guy named joseph lane who is from south carolina and lives in oregon. they are getting everything in this one. they got the south. they got the upper south. they got the far west. by the way, there are only a few thousand voters in oregon. they don't really think of lane as a guy who is going to carry states for them. he is from the lower south. he is pro slavery. they figure he is a good man to have on the ticket. he also does not look happy about being the vice presidential nominee. he wanted something better. if you like a party, we have lots of parties. another party forms in may 1860,
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like the democrats, like the republicans, they have their convention. they call themselves the constitutional union party. a lot of old former whigs, a good number of no-nothings. they invited the man they considered the great orator of the era. john bell opposed the kansas-nebraska act. he is one of the rarities. he is a politician from tennessee who was close to andrew jackson, then an enemy and didn't get shot for it.
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i don't know how jackson let him off the hook. sam houston, the governor of texa texas. the group included other northern former whigs. edwin everett had been a diplomat, a u.s. senator. a few years after this, he would become one of the great historical trivia questions. they were dedicating this veterans cemetery at gettysburg.
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they invited the man they considered the great orator of the era. he knew his latin, his great romans and all this. he gave a two-hour speech. the unionists -- the constitutional unionists choose bell and everett, both in their mid to late 60s. i'm hoping you don't think i'm making fun of age when i say this. bare in mind life expectancy back then. they are much older.
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today people in their mid and late 70s are talking about running for president. back then, you didn't hear that. their platform was, the union as it is and the constitution as it is, which i think we can think of as -- shh, don't talk about it platform. if we don't talk about the problem, it will go away. by the way, to tell you the rest of the course, it didn't go away. the course is over. we don't have to continue. we know how it comes out. we know how this is going to come out. how do we get there? the constitutional unionists have their ticket.
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thank you, "harper's weekly" for doing fine artwork. i know this looks like a cable tv panel discussion. 16 different people having a conversation. this is prominent candidates for the republican presidential nomination at chicago from photographs by brady. matthew brady is around before the war starts. when they were coming to chicago for the republican convention in may 1860, it was well agreed the front-runner was william henry seward. he has a problem. well, he has several problems. one of them is he is prominent. people know where he stands. he can't undo it. he can't say i said that here
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and that there. i meant it both ways. he said, there's a higher law than the constitution. there's an irrepressable conflict between slavery and freedom. southerners look at him as this radical, wild-eyed guy who they cannot support. so do a lot of republicans. there are plenty of conservative republicans, moderate republicans, they know he is too far out there. he has another problem. we talked before about his political manager. being involved in manipulating the new york legislature. the buchanan administration is known for corruption among other things. if republicans run seward and say, we oppose corruption, democrats are going to say you oppose corruption? you really think we're going to sell that one? how can you possibly pull that off?
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another thing is, weed had a bright idea. get seward out of the line of fire and away from the issues. so seward went to europe for eight months and did the grand tour. everybody else is figuring out how they are going to be president and he is running around europe. he is not here to make sure that his forces are going to be ready and behind him. then you pull out from seward and the other most radical republican under consideration is salmon chase who is a former democrat from ohio. seward is a former whig who is a radical. chase is a former democrat. the whigs aren't sure about him. there's a political adviser who says they won't take seward
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because he is too radical, they aren't going to take you. then you go up to the top above chase. that's edward bates. who is a lawyer from missouri, a former whig and no-nothing. he freed his slaves. he didn't talk much about what he thought of slavery. there's a group of republicans who say, yeah, he is conservative. he is really conservative. we need a real conservative. we will scare away people if we nominate somebody vocal about being anti-slavery. better to slip someone in there. back then, you didn't campaign. bates wouldn't even talk about it. getting bates to do anything to help himself get elected was impossible.
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so he doesn't have any organization to help him out. the rest of these people on here -- john fremont is on there. he had done it in 1856. they're not doing it again. there's an abolitionist, cassius clay. he is not going to get it if seward isn't. there's a supreme court justice, john mcclane. there are favorite sons. you choose someone from your state. pennsylvania has simon cameron. down below, just sort of hanging out, not saying or doing too much we have lincoln. sort of on the periphery. not exactly in your face. lincoln isn't getting in anybody's grill. i don't want you to think lincoln said, i'm not getting in anybody's grill. he is not in your face, but he
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is circling you. lincoln was plotting a lot from 1858 to '60 in terms of his possibilities running for president. right after he lost the election to douglas, a couple of small newspapers, one in illinois, one in ohio, announced they supported him for president. lincoln called them off. no, no, no, i don't think i'm worthy of that. it's too early to talk about it. supposedly, he is on a train one time and he said, my wife thinks i'm going to be president. can you imagine a sucker like me being president? people thought he meant, when they looked back at it, sucker, someone who falls for something. it was a term used to describe illinoisans. he is an illinoisan.
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it is not that he is easily taken. he knew very well if he were to pull this off, everything had to go right. and he does what he can to make it go right. that's the important thing here. seward may have gone to europe and let weed worry about things. chase is trying to get everybody to support him. bates is doing nothing. for his part, lincoln does a bunch of things. one of them, he sets to work making sure a volume of the debates is published. he wants a book out there with his name on it making his arguments. have any of you ever noticed that almost everybody now who runs for president has a book out?
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that they did not write -- i shouldn't say that. that they probably didn't write. they're talking about how they were all born in a log cabin they built by themselves. they walked five miles uphill both ways in the snow to get to school. all the stuff you have to do to get elected. lincoln isn't quite doing that, but his name is going to get out there. he also spends a lot of 1859 -- granted, he is practicing law, he is keeping busy. he goes around making speeches. not overtly campaigning for president. sometimes not even overtly political. but he is keeping himself out there. he is making sure people know who he is. and that he is a loyal republican. and he is the guy who almost beat douglas and technically did if not for the gerrymandering.
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occasionally, he gets a request, could you come speak here? he sends a public letter that they read and they all applaud him. but it's him. they know he is out there. as he is doing this, he gets an invitation to speak in brooklyn, new york, in early 1860. he is going to speak at the plymouth church where the minister was henry ward beacher, a major figure at the time as a minister, as a reformer, anti-slavery man. and he realizes, i'm going to new york. i'm going to be in the big city. he gets a new suit. he is going to be giving this speech. he didn't like to wing it too much.
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but he did write things out. he spends weeks in the state library in illinois researching. and it turns out the speech is moved to the cooper union, the building in this slide, in new york city. and he is now invited to speak by an organization of young republicans. led, among others, by the editor of the "new york evening post," one of the young republicans there pictured next to lincoln. i guess republicans were older then. i don't know. well, here is the thing. bryant was involved, greeley was involved. there were young republicans involved. what the organization should have been called was the club to
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find a republican other than seward. greeley had been close to seward, hated him because he did not support his political ambitions. bryant was a former democrat. didn't trust seward in the least. other new yorkers who feel seward is too corrupt or he is a fake radical, he is not really that anti-slavery, they are looking for a candidate. lincoln goes to give a speech. and harold holzer, who i think is publishing his 52nd book on lincoln -- i think i have most of them. i don't have room for more books. i don't have room for books by harold holzer. he published a book on the cooper union speech calling it the speech that made lincoln president. there's a lot to be said for that. he is on the national stage, new york, the biggest city then and now. and he makes a great impression.
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he gives a very literate, historical speech. and they kind of look at him and say, we thought he was this westerner who was ugly and sounded weird and didn't really know what he was talking about. he seems to have it together. it doesn't guarantee him the nomination, but it's an important step on that road. he goes on to speak in new england afterward. and he was actually visiting his son robert who was in school in new england. but he also was speaking there. and it's kind of funny, allegedly robert was nervous about his father being there because he didn't think his father was that cultured and cultivated. all of robert's friends loved him. this great guy. what's your problem, bob? he goes back home. he had maybe just a moment in the sun there. but there are things going on to
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help him. yes, he does have somebody who thinks he should be president and mary encourages the idea. i'm being a bit ironic by putting a photo of norman judd next it her because she hated him. he was the chairman of the illinois republican party. lincoln corresponds with judd. and he says, i appear to be a candidate. i'm not too far in and not a lot of people are all out for me. i'm getting there. it's my understanding that you are going to vote on where the convention will be. and i think it might help me if it's in illinois. and when they have the national committee meeting -- we still have democratic and republican national committees. it turns out, chicago beat st. louis by one vote to host the convention.
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it's judd's vote. where this will end up being valuable, first of all, if you go to a sports book, home field advantage is worth a few points. lincoln has home field advantage. what they're going to do is stack the galleries as they call them. what they're going to do is give tickets out to people who will come yell for lincoln. the people on the floor of the convention who are voting -- wow, listen to all that. they love lincoln. it may have been judd, it may have been somebody else. they hired professional screamers. every now and then, if it got too quiet, somebody would bellow lincoln's name at the top of his lungs. everybody would start cheering for lincoln again. sort of like having the laugh track on a tv show. you have to have something to
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remind you to laugh. you need people to remind us to yell. judd, having connections as a prominent illinoisan, is able to get some discounts to help people come to chicago. by the way, it also turns out judd. so one of the problems lincoln runs into in illinois is getting everybody on the same page. they all tend to like him, but getting them around their own hatreds is a problem. and the mayor of chicago at the time of the convention, just to get at judd, ordered a raid of the local brothels. it is going to shock you to know that some of the delegates got into trouble and we'll leave it at that. first, lincoln needs to get through the state convention. and the goal is for the state of illinois to endorse lincoln.
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the meeting's held in decatur, illinois in early may of 1860. and lincoln is at the convention. and you may have noticed this reference in joshua shenk's book that you're reading how he didn't seem that happy or excited. he was kind of melancholic at the time. one of the republicans decided if lincoln's going to win he needs to appeal to the masses. he's now lawyer, a middle class businessman, how do we make him look better? so at the convention they get a couple of people who come in, and one of them is a distant cousin of lincoln named john hanks. now, at this convention when they announce lincoln's name, they pick him up and hand him over one another, passing him above their heads, which is why this is the marker in decatur.
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i don't know that lincoln felt that comfortable. but okay. anyway, he's up front. here comes john hanks with somebody else, carrying some rails, and he's saying lincoln split those rails. now lincoln is already known as an honest man. that's important to him and he knows very well those rails could have come from anywhere. he says, well, those look like some rails i might have split. and out of that experience with cousin john bringing in the rails, he becomes known as the rail splitter candidate, and suddenly he's not just the rising lawyer, he's a laboring man. and laboring men have more appeal politically than guys who sit there doing wills and trusts and arguing cases. he gets the nomination of the
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state convention, they unanimously agree. allegedly there's one guy who stands up and yells for chase and they throw him out of the hall. they're not putting up with that and the following week they're going to meet in chicago. in mid-may 1860. now, these are left to right. so at the top davis, sweat, corner, at the bottom oglesby, browning, herndon. there's no thurlow weed in this group, not one guy that stands out. davis is essentially the manager. he was the judge in the eighth circuit. he's the most respected one.
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sweat is a close ally of his. they're both old wigs. corner is a recent german immigrant and remember we mentioned in connection with the know nothing party, the number of immigrants coming to the u.s. in the 1850s, germans were among them. and lincoln, in fact, helped to finance a german paper for the republican party. and corner is there to help him with the german delegates and the delegates from areas where there's a significant german population. oglesby is the guy who found the rail or at least found the guy who found the rail. he's going to be around. orville browning, you remember the letter lincoln wrote about the woman he thought he might have been engaged to and might have married, and all that. well, that was browning's wife
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to whom he wrote the letter and browning is a conservative wig who, in fact, was supporting bates. now, when somebody said to him, hey, browning is for bates, lincoln said bates will have no show and orville will be for me and when he is he'll help us with the bates men, and he did. herndon is lincoln's law partner. and have you ever had someone around you where you wanted to keep them quiet at a certain time? in my house it's usually me who they want to keep quiet. that's herndon. he's an abolitionist. he's very opinionated. and he really wants to be involved and lincoln's response is, we have so much legal work, billy. do all the legal work for me. i have a lot to do. in a sense he puts herndon on
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the shelf. he's writing to his fellow abolitionists, yeah that helps lincoln but he doesn't want herndon out there making speeches at this time. when they meet in chicago in mid-may, davis, in particular, is the leader of lincoln's gang. they meet in a building expressly built for the convention that was called the wigwam. and it's a bit crowded, and it's a bit busy. and in the hall and in the hotel rooms nearby that's where the action's going to be. that's where things are going to get done. today a nominating convention meets almost always everything's in place beforehand. in 1860 it's a different matter. most conventions went a few
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ballots. so when they meet judd pulls off a wonderful maneuver. so back in '08 when barack obama was nominated i'm watching the daily show. and they do a story, or they -- one of the networks did a story, that they showed, about how the delegations are moved according to who the nominee is. i never realized it until that moment. obama's from illinois. they put the illinois delegation down front. biden's from delaware, they put the delaware delegation down front. turns out, 2016, clinton's from new york, cain from virginia, trump's from new york, they're down front. they organize the floor in a certain way and jud organizes the floor in a very interesting way. illinois on one side surrounded by all the states lincoln needs to win and has a chance to win.
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indiana, doesn't have a favorite son, really. pennsylvania is up in the air. meanwhile, new york, is weed and seward, they're on the other side of the hall surrounded by their own people. if thurlow weed wants to talk to the indiana delegation, i don't know where they are in relation to this. but basically he's got to get from here down to here and meanwhile, before he can get there, davis has them. next to him. it matters. it's going to have a big impact that they can be leaning over to each other during this, hey, have you noticed so and so isn't doing too well, you thought to think about -- well, davis's master plan was, lincoln must establish himself as the challenger to seward. seward, everybody knows, is the front runner. they don't think he has the votes to win on the first ballot and he doesn't.
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he's not even close. make lincoln the obvious alternative. they sell the idea lincoln's from the west, seward's from the east. which states do you need to win? illinois out west, indiana out west. seward's from the east, you got the east. the indiana delegation includes a wig caleb smith who served with lincoln in congress. and the indiana delegation talks, well, should we put up old caleb as a favorite son no, they decide we'll go for lincoln. davis wants to get another big delegation and indiana's the one he gets. the end of the first ballot, he wanted lincoln to have 100 votes, lincoln has 102. seward's at about 173. he's at least 100 short. as they're doing this, they're all running back and forth, and the claims that are being made, half of them are claiming lincoln has agreed to be vice president. half of them are claiming
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lincoln's already got the nomination. some of those who think he's got the nomination, agree he's giving up the -- they don't know what's going on. and for the second ballot davis and company realize we need to make a big splash. when they were going to the convention lincoln stayed home. that's what you did then. you didn't go if you were the candidate and lincoln said something like, i am too much of a candidate to go, and not enough of a candidate to stay home. but he stays home. and any instructions? he says, for seward, if anybody asks, i'm with him on the irrepressible conflict, but not the higher law. irrepressible conflict might sound a little like a house divided against itself. that's okay. higher law, no. i'm an old henry clay tariff man. he says make no contracts that bind me. and davis and sweat get a hold of a wig from -- old wig from
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pennsylvania named joseph casey who works in the political operation of simon cameron, the state's political boss. and they meet with him. and what happens is not entirely clear. when the meeting was done sweat allegedly turned to davis, i'm pretty sure which was sweat, and said lincoln said make no contracts that bind me, davis said lincoln ain't here. that's another reason you don't go. your friends can make deals. cameron may have been offered a cabinet seat. pennsylvania definitely was. and that's not a big deal. pennsylvania always got a cabinet seat in those days. to say pennsylvania's going to be in the cabinet is nothing.
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but clearly some kind of deal was made when it was done the meeting was over and davis came out and there were some reporters and one of them said, did you -- well, what did you do? he said, well, we got them. and how did you get them? he said, by paying their price. well, years later davis was asked, maybe it wasn't years, it was afterward. he was asked, they say you provericated. he said we didn't provericate, we lied like hell. if you look it up in the dictionary, that's what he did. on the second ballot lincoln is just a few votes behind seward and on the third ballot delegations starts swinging over to lincoln until finally he's
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within just a few votes, the ohio delegation puts him over, and one of seward's supporters moves to make it unanimous. and when they realize what has happened two men in the hall first out crying. thurlow weed who realizes he's blown it for seward. and david davis, who can't believe he pulled it off. help came from other directions. the guy on the left is joseph medill who was a founder of the "chicago tribune," on the right of horace greeley, founder of "the new york tribune."
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medill and his partners were writing editorials constantly saying lincoln's your man, go with lincoln. greeley, here's an example of how crazy things could be at a convention. greeley was determined to get on the convention floor and do everything he could to stop seward. he managed to get himself made a delegate from oregon. greeley is the guy who actually did not say, but is credited with saying go west, young man for this convention he really went west, got as far west as illinois and became an oregonian. as it turned out somebody stuck a seward button on him that he didn't realize he had on. greeley is going through the crowd working them up against seward and he is just thrilled he's been able to help with this. medill and his people are thrilled they've been able to help their local guy. so now we have a candidate, abraham lincoln and he has to have a running mate.
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and again usually the convention chose the running mate. and balance we've got abraham lincoln of illinois. hannibal hamlin of maine, can't get more balanced than that, way out in new england. what's more, lincoln's a former wig, hamlin is a former democrat. hamlin is close to being considered a radical republican if he isn't, in fact, one. lincoln, the moderate. almost immediately after the convention lincoln writes to hamlin says i will take the first step and introduce myself, how does it look? they end up corresponding during the campaign. and from the nomination in mid-may of 1860, to november, yeah, there's a campaign. and lincoln is going out of his
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mind. first, because everybody wants a piece of him. he is getting letters by the bushel. he's getting requests to speak. and he's -- he'd love to but he knows he can't. he knows he's not supposed to. now, maybe he just knows they'd misspell his name, i don't know. i always got a kick out of that. i have that hanging at home. it's like, people, get the guy's name right, who? they've also got him kind of tilted. so as we consider here the four, their positions on slavery and we've been talking about that with leave it alone or popular sovereignty or stop the spread of slavery. lincoln goes to work as a political manager. and this is important to remember about him. he's a lawyer, that's how he makes his living. he is a politician.
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he has spent his life running for office. we've been studying that. but for the fun of it. i'm just going to say it. he runs in '32, '34, '36, '40, '42. he lays out trying to find a way to get to congress. they work out the deal for rotation in office, he helps them run in '44, runs in '46. campaigning in '48, not much in '52, and then suddenly '54 run for the senate. he knows how to run for office. he's done it a lot. and from his little bivouac in springfield he's at a little office in the state capitol he is writing letters back and forth and trying to gain support, find out what's going on, broker disputes. he's doing what he can to help
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himself. now, it's a nasty campaign. it gets a little tiresome when we hear, oh, gee, campaigns today are so nasty. it's just that there are more ways to see and hear the nastiness. they're all tearing at the fabric of the country. democrats are claiming that lincoln and the republicans believe in black equality, and they even have a parade in new york city where they suggest that horace greeley is basically close to having sexual relations with an african-american woman on a parade float. we don't have photos of that. now, the day he was notified of winning the nomination lincoln was out playing a form of handball. and since it is our national
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past time we do have to have a word for baseball. but they're also very concerned about the skunk at the garden party. and lincoln is going to hit a home run. there are people who are critical of steven douglas too. don't want you to think douglas is just criticizing people. and lincoln is charging the castle, and it's not clear here whether buchanan is trying to pull breckenridge in or wants breckenridge to pull him out. douglas has keys and bell is blocking for him. well, during the campaign itself one of the problems that comes up is that there are four candidates and in the course of the campaign it becomes clear that there are essentially two races going on.
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in the north, it's lincoln versus douglas. in the south, it's breckenridge versus bell. most southerners do not want douglas because they don't want popular sovereignty. they want protection for slavery. let's face facts. if they don't want douglas because he's allowing a vote on slavery, they sure don't want lincoln. and the irony is, bell's from tennessee, which is considered upper south, breckenridge is kentucky, which is more upper, and yet bell was the one more for compromise, or at the very least trying to tamp down the issue, than breckenridge is. they do the things in the campaign that they can do to excite interest. there are songs.
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each campaign has its song books. there are clubs. this organization, the wide awakes, was a group of young men who kind of formed a para military organization for lack of a better term, and they held these meetings dressed in uniforms or costumes, and marched around. and their whole point was they were wide awake, they were young, they were active. as opposed to all these other people who when it came to the campaign were -- and they excite a lot of interest for the party. now, in the 19th century politics, remember, was much more of a social activity than we think of it today. today there are so many other things that people can do. back then, no, we can't dvr the election or whatever. they're going to go out, they're going to do things, they're
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going to have fun. there was a guy who was writing about this subject, and pointed out that if only we would have pizza parties we might get more people interested in politics. i would be interested in the pizza party, i don't know about the politics, i'd definitely be into the politics. so they're out getting people interested in the election, and in voting. republicans also work very hard to lower the temperature where they can. what happened in illinois happened nationally. in illinois you had infighting in lincoln's circle between old wigs and old democrats, northern illinoisans and southern illinoisans. they agreed on one thing. they wanted to help lincoln. so they tried where they could
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to put that to rest. but in other states there are fights going on. in new york, weed is battling greeley and vice versa. in pennsylvania cameron's political machine is trying to stop another group of republicans led by a guy named andrew curtain who's running for governor so the cameron people are kind of stuck with him. well, lincoln and david davis, and some of his allies, they're writing letters, davis at one point does a tour and meets with weed, meets with other new yorkers, goes to pennsylvania, meets with these people, all as part of an effort to make sure they keep their eye on the ball. the ball, in this case, is electing lincoln. and putting aside whatever their personal issues are. you knew this was the outcome, right? yeah, i was doing my best to keep it -- keep the suspense
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going here. okay, so lincoln wins. all right. it does indeed end up being lincoln and douglas in the north, breaken lidckenridge and the south and breckenridge wins the lower south with his argument for a slave code. bell wins the upper south where there is less of that commitment to protecting slavery at all costs. and lincoln just stomps douglas across the country, sort of. he easily beats douglas in the electoral college. lincoln ends up with 180 electoral votes, douglas has 12. but, in fact, in a lot of the states they ran pretty close. couple of things to think about in connection with this. one, if douglas, breckenridge and bell had gotten together, would they have beaten lincoln?
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well, the three of them together got 123 electoral votes to lincoln's 180. so that's not enough. but would the votes have gone to lincoln instead of to douglas, or the fusion candidate, as they were talking about it? hard to say. we really can't know. here's pretty much what we do know. there were efforts for them to get together. there were efforts to try to get a coalition together and the one who blocked it was douglas. he was not going to let the democratic party go in that direction. and at one point they said well the election could be thrown to the house and douglas said i will help elect lincoln before i let that happen and when douglas realized he was going to lose, there were a few votes that went the republicans' way in october he said lincoln is the next president, i'm going to the south and he went south and he made speeches attacking succession. he was aware of what might come. another way to look at this. the two candidates who got the
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most electoral votes were the two most radical candidates. the strongly anti-slavery guy, lincoln, and the strongly pro-slavery guy, breckenridge. we often hear about a desire for compromise, and at one time it was easier to compromise. those are the two ends of the spectrum. it's not too easy to compromise. well, lincoln wins when he finds out in springfield, in november 1860 on that tuesday night, he's very happy, but he isn't jumping around and all excited about it and finally said, well, i -- there's a little lady at my house who's more interested in this than i am, i better go tell her. he goes home and the rumor is, because he got home after 10:00, he was locked out. because mary had said no, 10:00's the limit. that's debatable. the next day he saw reporters,
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he said, well, boys, your troubles are over. mine have just begun. a few weeks later south carolina seceded over the election of abraham lincoln. we know how that's going to come out too but we're still going to end up talking about it. so we elected him today, the least we can do is secede next time so we'll see you next time. you're watching american history tv, every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past, c-span3, created by america's cable television companies as a public service, and brought to you today by your television provider.


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