In 1860 the Democratic Party split over the slavery issue, with its northern and southern wings each nominating a presidential candidate. The Republicans stood poised to win the election, even without any votes from the South, provided they did not alienate northern voters by being too closely associated with antislavery. Moderates held the key to victory. Republicans turned to Abraham Lincoln, the former Whig from the critical swing state of Illinois, and presented a platform emphasizing economic progress more than attacking the slave power. Democrats warned that social chaos and disunion would follow a "Black Republican" win. When Lincoln was elected, deep southern state secessionists made good their threat to leave the Union rather than submit to Republican rule. As Republicans prepared to enter office, the seceded states organized the Confederate States of America. The lame-duck Democratic president and Congress could not stop the course of secession, and the Republicans about to assume office refused to renege on their pledges of no further extension of slavery for vague prospects of compromise. The new Confederacy, impatient to assert its independence, fired on the Union-held Fort Sumter in April 1861. And the war came.

"The Rising of Afrite," Vanity Fair, January 19, 1861.

"Prominent Candidates for the Republican Presidential Nomination at Chicago," in Harper's Weekly. May 12, 1860.

Abraham Lincoln. Platinum Print, 1895, by George B. Ayres, from 1860 negative by Alexander Hesler.



The Wide-Awakes. (New York: H. De. Marsan, 1860)



Progressive Democracy-Prospects of a Smash Up. Lithograph (New York: Currier & Ives, 1860)