If Lincoln had lost the 1860 Election.......

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peteanddelmar

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In 1851 US Marshal aided by local police arrested a black man in Syracuse NY on allegations that he was a runaway slave; a mob besieged and assaulted the courthouse, fighting with the police and liberating the arrested man.

In 1851 a black man was arrested in Boston as a runaway slave. Hundreds gathered in protest outside the courthouse; a group of the protesters broke down the door of the courthouse, stormed in, snatched the prisoner and escaped.

In 1851 a Virginia slaveowner tried to arrest a runaway in Christiana PA; he showed up with a US Marshal and a posse; a riot ensued, shots were fired, the slaveowner was killed, others wounded, the Marshal was driven out of town.

In 1854 a black man was arrested by US Marshals in Racine WI as a runaway slave; he was taken to a jail in Milwaukie. A mob, estimated at 5,000, stormed the jail, freed the man and helped him get to Canada.

In 1854 a black man was arrested in Boston MA as a runaway slave. A mass protest was held, a group of whom collected weapons and stormed the courthouse using a battering ram, killing a deputy marshal but failing to free the captive. The President sent in troops to secure Boston and make sure the arrested man was returned to slavery.

In 1858 US Marshal tried to arrest black man in Blairsville PA as a runaway slave; a riot resulted and the Marshal was driven out of town.

In 1858 US Marshal arrested a black man in Oberlin OH on allegations that he was a runaway slave; knowing that Oberlin was a radical place, the Marshal put the man on a trian to Wellington; a group of Oberlin residents followed him; they stormed the hotel where the Marshall was staying and liberated the arrested man. Several of the 'rescuers' were arrested and tried in Cleveland; a protest in support of the 'rescuers' gathered outside the courthouse, the size of the crowd was estimated at 10,000 (Cleveland's population at the time was around 43,000).

Between 1854 and 1858, eight of the northern states passed laws meant to block the kinds of arrests listed above. The Massachusetts law, for example, made it a crime to help US Marshals in the arrest of alleged slaves and disbarred attornies who represented slave owners.
Oh...armed mobs.
I thought brass napoleon was referring to armed rebellion against the federal government in the north.
I was also surprised that he thought the north would have been in open rebellion in a few more years if Lincoln did not win the 1860 election.
I had just never thought of the north in general rebellion.
 

NedBaldwin

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Oh...armed mobs.
I thought brass napoleon was referring to armed rebellion against the federal government in the north.
I was also surprised that he thought the north would have been in open rebellion in a few more years if Lincoln did not win the 1860 election.
I had just never thought of the north in general rebellion.
Whats the difference to you between 'armed mobs' that receive the support of the leaders of the community and 'armed rebellion'?
 

NedBaldwin

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Oh...armed mobs.
I thought brass napoleon was referring to armed rebellion against the federal government in the north.
I was also surprised that he thought the north would have been in open rebellion in a few more years if Lincoln did not win the 1860 election.
I had just never thought of the north in general rebellion.
This is the sort of thing that appeared in Cleveland area newspapers in 1859:

"We must no longer submit to the despotism of the Federal government. Our wrongs we must right, if we can, through the Ballot Box, and if this fail us, then through the Cartridge Box."​
and
"Let no cheek pale then, at the prospect in the not distant future, of a revolution not bloodless! The time has not yet come, but the doughfaced servility, and conservative timidity, and corrupt, cringing sycophancy of the times are fast hastening the day. Let the day come and God speed the right. RESISTANCE TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD!"
I agree with Brass, that had the 1860 election produced another doughfaced president, armed resistance to US authority would have escalated in some northern states.
 
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brass napoleon

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Oh...armed mobs.
I thought brass napoleon was referring to armed rebellion against the federal government in the north.
I was also surprised that he thought the north would have been in open rebellion in a few more years if Lincoln did not win the 1860 election.
I had just never thought of the north in general rebellion.
Many general rebellions start from armed mobs. Specifically, there were a couple cases that were heading in that direction. Ned mentioned the 1854 Wisconsin case, which turned into a court battle, centered on Abelman v. Booth, that lasted right on into the Civil War. The state of Wisconsin was openly defying the United States Supreme Court in this case. Ned also mentioned the 1858 Oberlin-Wellington rescue case. In this case the Ohio Supreme Court openly challenged the U.S. Supreme Court and decided to hear the case of some of the rescuers itself, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled weeks earlier (in the Abelman v. Booth case) that state and local courts have no jurisdiction in such matters. It was widely expected that the all Republican Ohio Supreme Court would rule to release the prisoners from federal custody. The United States attorney general had sent instructions to his marshals in Cleveland (way to go Cavs!) that they were not to release the prisoners under any circumstances. Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase had promised a crowd (at the rally of 10,000 people that Ned mentioned) that he would use the full power of the state of Ohio to enforce the Ohio Supreme Court ruling. Everybody expected an armed confrontation between the state of Ohio and the federal government. But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled by just a 3-2 margin to return the prisoners to federal custody, so the confrontation never materialized. Nevertheless, the sheriff of Lorain County, Ohio, arrested a United States marshal who was involved in the case. And Ohio Republicans refused to renominate the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, who cast the deciding vote in that decision, even though he was (and still is) regarded as one of the most able and respected jurists in Ohio history.

There was another case in Ohio 2 years earlier that is often neglected and forgotten by history, known as the Greene County Rescue (or the Battle of Lumbarton). In this case county sheriffs gathered posses of local civilians and went after a United States Marshal who had arrested men for violation of the Fugitive Slave Law and was transporting them to jail. The result was a shootout between Ohio law enforcement officials and the United States Marshal and his men. The Marshal and his men were finally overcome and arrested. It took a personal meeting between Governor Chase and President Buchanan to iron the whole thing out.

So I think the situation in the North was a lot more volatile than people now remember. In fact decades after the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue case, one of its most prominent participants speculated what would have happened if the Ohio Supreme Court had ruled that the prisoners should be released from federal custody:

"This would have placed Ohio in conflict with the general government in defence of State Rights, and if the party of freedom [Republican Party] throughout the North had rallied, as seemed probable, the war might have come in 1859 instead of 1861, with a secession of the Northern instead of the Southern States."

- James H. Fairchild, President, Oberlin College, 1883

Source: https://books.google.com/books?id=xI44AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA128&lpg=PA128
I personally think that might have been a bit of an exaggeration - I don't think the Northern states were quite to that point yet in 1859. But with four more years of an Administration like Buchanan's, Pierce's and Fillmores's, I think it's very possible you would have seen a case like one of the above blow up into outright, widespread rebellion (although not necessarily secession).

 
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alexjack

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The whole situation within the United States in those times is mind blowing. Massachusetts passes a law as a State permitting its' citizens to legally obstruct a Federal official in the shape of a US Marshall, doing his job of enforcing Federal law because Massachusetts doesn't agree with that law and while in some ways I find that entirely admirable it doesn't seem a million miles away from a different state saying, ' We no longer wish to be part of the Union so we're opting out.' :smile:
 

brass napoleon

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The whole situation within the United States in those times is mind blowing. Massachusetts passes a law as a State permitting its' citizens to legally obstruct a Federal official in the shape of a US Marshall, doing his job of enforcing Federal law because Massachusetts doesn't agree with that law and while in some ways I find that entirely admirable it doesn't seem a million miles away from a different state saying, ' We no longer wish to be part of the Union so we're opting out.' :smile:
Yes, war was inevitable by this point. The can had been kicked down the road too long. Secession was just a means to an end.
 
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peteanddelmar

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This is the sort of thing that appeared in Cleveland area newspapers in 1859:

"We must no longer submit to the despotism of the Federal government. Our wrongs we must right, if we can, through the Ballot Box, and if this fail us, then through the Cartridge Box."​
and
"Let no cheek pale then, at the prospect in the not distant future, of a revolution not bloodless! The time has not yet come, but the doughfaced servility, and conservative timidity, and corrupt, cringing sycophancy of the times are fast hastening the day. Let the day come and God speed the right. RESISTANCE TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD!"
I agree with Brass, that had the 1860 election produced another doughfaced president, armed resistance to US authority would have escalated in some northern states.
Yes, war was inevitable by this point. The can had been kicked down the road too long. Secession was just a means to an end.
Now I have read of some of these acts of defiance like Oberlin. I have read that there were fights with US Marshalls. But I did not know that a widespread general rebellion of the Northern states was imminent.
So the North was ready to fight over state's rights too! Wild! So their is a solid "Northern" narrative! Not just a federal government desire to rule. So their is a reason for all that "Northern heat"!

What a novel thing to me! Northern patriots fighting for their state's right NOT to allow slavers to dictate to them and run around in their state! Surely they would have the good sense not to split the country! 80% of the north, 60% of the border states, and 30% of the slave states were on their side, in the general population.

This would make for some very interesting alternative history! Thanks guys.
 

Potomac Pride

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If the democrats had been able to decide on somebody in Charleston, and not split the vote, then Lincoln would have had a hard campaign on his hands. Reading newspapers of the day indicates that it was the election of Lincoln himself that was most feared in the South. Anybody else and it doesn't seem likely that the cry for secession would been made at all. Everybody could have just gone back to what they were doing before, at least for 4 more years. Seems like the war was caused by a great political failure - splitting the vote pretty much insured Lincoln's election - and secession - and war.
That is a good post DR. Some historians have even stated that the war was caused by the failure of the political system. In particular, the two party system that was fractured when the Democrats split to form several factions. The Republicans were a novice party that was trying to gain national prominence and succeeded in 1860.
 

brass napoleon

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Some historians have even stated that the war was caused by the failure of the political system. In particular, the two party system that was fractured when the Democrats split to form several factions.
I'd be interested in knowing what historians have stated that. Seems to me it's confusing cause with effect. The issue that split the Democratic Party was the same issue that split the country. Outside of that, political parties have broken up numerous times in American history without resulting in a civil war, or anything close to it.
 
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NedBaldwin

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That is a good post DR. Some historians have even stated that the war was caused by the failure of the political system. In particular, the two party system that was fractured when the Democrats split to form several factions. The Republicans were a novice party that was trying to gain national prominence and succeeded in 1860.
I'll buy into that idea. If politics is a way to resolve conflict through debate and compromise, then war is what happens when those approaches are no longer able to resolve conflict. There had been a national party system because the parties were able to smooth over the regional divisions. But once there reached a point where compromise was unacceptable, the regional divisions could no longer be ignored.
 

major bill

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IMO if Lincoln had not won in 1860 a Civil War would have been delayed a few years, but would have still occurred. There did not appear to be any compromise that both sides could accept. With the growing population of the northern states via immigration, it would have only been a few more years when a candidate who wanted to limit slavery in the territories would have been elected. The last territories became states in the 1950s. It would be wishful thinking to believe that only pro slavery candidates would have been elected up until 1960. I believe that it would have been unlikely that pro slavery candidates could have won all the elections until 1900 , pro slavery candidates winning until the 1960s or later seems highly unlikely.
 

Carronade

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Small point, the last territories in the continental US became states in 1912, New Mexico and Arizona. Alaska and Hawaii became the last two states in 1959, but they would hopefully not be involved in the slavery debate.

p.s. The growth of the US Navy in the early 1900s meant that some of our newest and most powerful battleships were named for the newest states, like USS Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. We also had to start renaming armored cruisers, monitors, and the oldest battleships to provide names for the growing fleet.
 
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major bill

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Even if New Mexico and Arizona had entered the union as slave states or as free states in 1912 that does not mean the issue of slavery would have ended in 1912. I am not so sure slavery would have been very effective in Alaska, but Hawaii would have seemed to be a good place for slavery. You may hope that by 1959 the issue of slavery would have dissipated, heck I may hope the same thing, but the nation would have needed something more than hope to resolve the slavery issue.
 

ivanj05

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In addition to the incidents brass napoleon mentions, we can't forget the violence in Kansas in terms of the leadup to the Civil War. By 1860, Americans had already been shedding the blood of other Americans over the issue of slavery for some time. A Democrat winning the 1860 election, improbable as it may be, would only be delaying the issue a little further.

As to the original question, if it isn't Lincoln in 1860 and all other things are equal, then you end up with the South still seceding and a Seward or a Chase presidency left to confront the problem. Capable as both men proved to be under Lincoln, I don't forsee either doing any better than Lincoln did between 1861 and 1864, and most likely they would do quite worse. What makes that proposition interesting is when the election of 1864 comes about...
 

MC44

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Resurrecting this thread only because I had a thought, and checking to see if it had ever been discussed, I see that it was touched upon earlier in this thread. The thought being, if a pro-slavery candidate had won the 1860 election, would northern states (certainly most, if not all of New England) have been the ones to secede on the grounds of slavery? Would the southern controlled Federal government have let them go? If they felt secession was legal for them in real life, would they have halted it in this alternate history? I don't have an opinion yet, but would love to hear others thoughts on this. (Moderators: If you feel this should be a separate thread, I will do so.)
 
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Kenneth Almquist

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Resurrecting this thread only because I had a thought, and checking to see if it had ever been discussed, I see that it was touched upon earlier in this thread. The thought being, if a pro-slavery candidate had won the 1860 election, would northern states (certainly most, if not all of New England) have been the ones to secede on the grounds of slavery? Would the southern controlled Federal government have let them go? If they felt secession was legal for them in real life, would they have halted it in this alternate history? I don't have an opinion yet, but would love to hear others thoughts on this. (Moderators: If you feel this should be a separate thread, I will do so.)
Unionism was a powerful ideology; it was enough to justify four years of bloody war. Plank 3 of the 1860 Republican Party platform condemned disunion. So if the Republicans had lost the 1860 election, there would have been talk of secession, but I don't imagine anything would have come of it.

The slaveholders were the wealthiest and most influential individuals in the South. A combination of social pressure, violence, and censorship was used to suppress views that ran contrary to their interests. Once they decided secession was necessary to protect their interests, they were able to make it happen. The abolitionists in the North didn't have this type of power.
 
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