“A house divided against itself cannot stand”……Abraham Lincolnwarned in 1858. Two years later,Lincoln was elected President of a nation divided by the bitter issue ofslavery. And as he predicted, the housebegan to shake.
In June, 1860, the Democratic Party had split apart. Northern Democrats, opposed to slavery, namedIllinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas as their presidential candidate. Southern Democrats nominated John C.Breckinridge of Kentucky. TheRepublicans were united in their antislavery stand and nominated Lincoln, theIllinois lawyers whose speeches opposing the spread of slavery had made him ahated figure in the South. No candidatewon a majority of the popular vote, but Lincoln won the largest share and amajority of the electoral vote.
Infuriated by Lincoln’s victory, South Carolina’s leaders did notwait for his inauguration. They met inCharleston on December 20 and voted to secede from the United States. Bells rang out and crowds cheered. The CharlestonMercury published a special edition with a headline reading, “The Union Is Dissolved.” As the fateful year of 1860 drew to a close,the U.S. was rushing headlong into the tragic, agonizing Civil War.
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