In the weeks leading up to the November election, anxiety about the outcome was evident all over the country. All of the competing parties waged nasty campaigns, heaping abuse on other candidates and warning of terrible consequences if their candidate did not win the election. The most serious of these warnings was voiced in America's Southern states. All across the South, people grumbled that if Lincoln was elected, then they would have no choice but to secede.
Lincoln knew how unpopular he was in the South, so he did not even bother campaigning there. Instead, he concentrated on beating Douglas in the North, where most of the nation's voting population—and most of America's electoral votes— were located. He knew that if he was victorious in the North, he would have enough electoral votes to secure the presidency, no matter what happened in the South.
Despite widespread warnings of secession from the South, Lincoln was indeed victorious. He received only 40 percent of the popular vote (the actual number of citizens who cast ballots) in the United States, and his name was not even included on
the ballot in ten Southern states. But he carried the entire North, capturing 54 percent of the region's popular vote and all of its electoral votes. Most of the South went with Breckinridge, but he was shut out in the North. Three other Southern states sided with Bell, but he too was unable to collect any support in the Northern states. Douglas, who only two years earlier had defeated Lincoln in their famous Illinois Senate race, ended up with 1.3 million popular votes, second only to Lincoln's total of 1.8 million votes. He was the only candidate who received
^^ "Brother Jonathan's Lament for Sister Caroline"
When South Carolina announced its intention to secede from the United States, American lawyer and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) reacted with sadness rather than anger. Holmes strongly supported the Union, and he thought that South Carolina's decision was a rash one that would bring pain and suffering to North and South alike. But rather than heap abuse or scorn on the state, he instead composed a poem that reflected his deep regret about South Carolina's decision, as well as the hope of many American citizens that the state—"Caroline," the Union's "stormy-browed sister"—might some day return to the Union in peace:
She has gone,—she has left us in passion and pride,—
Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side!
She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow,
And turned on her brother the face of a foe!
O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
We can never forget that our hearts have been one,—
Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name,
From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!
You were always too ready to fire at a touch;
But we said, "She is hasty,—she does not mean much."
We have scowled, when you uttered some turbulent thread-
But Friendship still whispered, "Forgive and forget!"
Has our love all died out? Have its altars grown cold?
Has the curse come at last which the fathers foretold?
Then Nature must reach us the strength of the chain
That her petulant children would sever in vain.
They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil,
Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil,
Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their caves, significant support in all parts of the country. But the "Little Giant" only won two states outright (Missouri and New Jersey), as his continued support of popular sovereignty made him an unsatisfactory choice to radicals on both sides of the slavery issue. A ma jority of Northern voters had decided that his views were too friendly to slaveholders. At the same time, most Southern voters had reached the conclusion that Douglas would not fight to extend slavery into America's western territories.
Oliver Wendell Holmes. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
And the shark tracks the pirate, the lord of the waves.
In vain is the strife! When its fury is past,
Their fortunes must flow in one channel at last,
As the torrents that rush from the mountains of snow
Roll mingled in peace through the valleys below.
Our Union is river, lake, ocean and sky:
Man breaks not the medal, when God cuts the die!
Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel,
The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!
O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun,
There are battles with Fate that can never be won!
The star-flowering banner must never be furled,
For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!
Go, then, our rash sister! afar and aloof,
Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof;
But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore,
Remember the pathway that leads to our door!
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