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Westport's Eye on the Civil War

1860 Prelude to Arms: The Election.

There were five “parties” listed in on the Connecticut presidential ballot in the election of 1860: Republican Party, Northern Democratic Party, Southern Democratic Party,  Constitutional Union Party, and the Fusion ticket.

The Fusion ticket represented a merger of interests between Know Nothings and Whigs, nativists and immigrants, old Free Soilers and old Democrats.

The Constitutional Union Party was represented by John Bell.  Comprising this party were hard-line former Southern Whigs and Know Nothings who felt they could not vote for either the Democrat or the Republican Party.  The party platform advocated compromise to save the Union, with the slogan “the Union as it is, and the Constitution as it is.”

The Democratic Party was terribly split over many issues including slavery.  So, the party split into two factions each nominating a candidate and thus probably ensuring that neither would receive enough votes to ensure election.

The Southern Democratic Party nominated Breckinridge of Kentucky.  He was an avowed pro-slavery candidate.

The Northern Democratic Party eventually nominated Stephen Douglas from Illinois as its candidate. Douglas was considered a moderate on the issue of slavery. He supported the doctrine of allowing settlers in each territory to decide for themselves whether slavery would be allowed or not. This was called the doctrine of popular sovereignty.

The Republican ticket was lead by Abraham Lincoln from Illinois and his vice presidential running mate was Hannibal Hamlin from Maine.  The Republican plank that drew the U.S. nearer and nearer to civil war was the very issue that Lincoln used as his major election principle:

REPUBLICAN PLANK REGARDING SLAVERY

“The normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom; that as our republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in all our national territory, ordained that no “person should be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision of the constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.”

As the 1860 presidential Election Day drew near many states in the South were already promoting, organizing, voting and preparing for secession and the eventuality of armed conflict.  The precipitating event for each state was Lincoln’s impending success at the poles.

The Connecticut Hartford Courant reported the events in the southern states via the new national telegraph system. Early and even before the election was underway many southern states, especially South Carolina, were promoting and predicting secession from the Union. The election results themselves would decide.

By Telegraph.
South Carolina Secessionists.

Columbia, S. C., Nov. 7 (1860)—The legislature has adopted joint resolutions sending a commissioner to Georgia.  On Thursday the question is to be taken on calling a convention of the people for reorganization of the militia and defense of the State.  Mr. Buist, urging the resolutions in the House, said that action should be prompt, immediate, unqualified and decisive, in case of Lincoln’s election.”

“Congressman Boyce, in his speech last night, urged for secession in case of Lincoln’s election.”

South Carolina Secessionists. (1860, November 8). Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 3.  Content retrieved from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 817485532).

Town Lincoln Stevens Breckenridge Bell
Fairfield 395 11 189 30
Bridgeport 1110 475 462 29
Brookfield 122 37 103 1
Bethel 190 24 47 15
Darien 157 2 2 8
Danbury 667 280 5 7
Easton 121 50 85 0
Greenwich - - - -
Huntington 150 19 121 8
Monroe 113 6 137 1
New Canaan 308 13 8 6
New Fairfield 111 - - -
Newtown 305 - - 4
Norwalk 746 93 193 38
Redding 176 3 86 -
Ridgefield 290 4 113 -
Stamford 627 43 39 64
Sherman 110 75 - -
Stratford 203 43 86 15
Trumbull 161 25 144 1
Weston 55 19 99 2
Wilton 237 29 86 10
Westport 203 52 - 3

 

 In addition to the above, a fusion ticket was voted in the following towns, receiving the number of votes indicated:

Stratford 11 Ridgefield 29
Newtown 336 Norwalk 51
New Canaan 190 Westport 215
Wilton 2 Bethel 34
Danbury 187 Darien 124
Stamford 354 New Fairfield 113

THE VOTE OF CONNECTICUT :FAIRFIELD COUNTY RECAPITULATION. (1860, November 8). Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 2.  Content Retrieved May 6, 2011, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 817485112).

Percent Vote in Presidential Election for Fairfield County, CT and Westport, CT.

Lincoln Douglas Breckenridge Bell Fusion
Fairfield County 54% 10% 17% 2% 14%
Westport 42% 11% 0% 0% 51%

“In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s triumph at the polls in the presidential election of 1860 seven states of the lower South-South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—seceded from the Union.” (Apostles of Disunion, Charles B. Drew, p 5.)

1861: Confrontation and War

“A convention meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, in early February 1861, drafted a constitution for the Confederate States of America and organized a provisional government that rushed military forces into the field.” (Apostles of Disunion, Charles B. Drew, p 5.)

The stage was set for the next act—warfare between the states.

February 19, 1861

THE LATEST NEWS.

BY TELEGRAPH.

SOUTH CAROLINA THREATENING SECESSION

FROM MONTGOMERY.

WANTS FREE TRADE.

WILL TAKE FORT SUMTER.

Special Dispatch to the N.Y. Express:

Washington, Feb. 19—A South Carolina Ex-

Member of Congress writes to his friends in this city,

that Fort Sumter will be attacked by the 4th March

next.

TELEGRAPH.  (1861, February 20). THE LATEST NEWS :SOUTH CAROLINA THREATENING SECESSION FROM MONTGOMERY WANTS FREE TRADE WILL TAKE FORT SUMTER. Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 3.  Content from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 822828582)

April 11, 1861

THE LATEST NEWS.

BY TELEGRAPH.

A Demand for Fort Sumter and a Re-

fusal!

7000 TROOPS AT CHARLESTON.

WAR MOVEMENTS IN THE SOUTH.

Charleston, April 11—Evening—Collision is

Hourly expected.  Norther dispatches state that an

Attempt will be made to-day to re-enforce Sumter in

Small boats ptotected by sand-bags, the war-vessels,

In the meantime, to protect them, by landing a party

on Morris Island.

It is reported that Beauregard has demanded

the evacuation of Fort Sumter

…..Thousands on the pier expecting a fight.

TELEGRAPH.  (1861, April 12). THE LATEST NEWS :A Demand for Fort Sumter and a Refusal! An Attack Expected in the Morning! 7000 TROOPS AT CHARLESTON War Movements in the South SECOND DISPATCH THIRD DISPATCH FOURTH DISPATCH. Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 3.  Content from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 829751602).

April 12, 1861

THE LATEST NEWS.

BY TELEGRAPH.

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

OF SOUTHERN CHIVALRY!

A Barbarous and Unprevoked Attack on Fort Sumter!

A Violent Storm Raging.

Correspondence of General Beauregard and Confederate the Secretary of War!

Charleston, April 12—The ball has opened. War is inaugurated. The batteries of Sullivan’s Ilsand,Morris Island,and other points,opened on Sumter at 4 o’clock this morning. Fort Sumter has returned the fire, and a brisk canonading has been kept up. No information has been received from the sea-board yet. Military are under arms. The whole population is in the street. Every available space facing the harbor is filled with anxious spectators.

TELEGRAPH. (1861, April 13). THE LATEST NEWS :THE LATEST DEVELOPEMENTS OF SOUTHERN CHIVALRY!!! A Barbarous and Unprovoked Attack on Fort Sumter!!. Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 3. Content from Pro Quest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 824809592).

April 15, 1861

BY TELEGRAPH

THE LATEST NEWS.

THE WAR !

THE CONFLICT AT CHARLESTON.

Flag of Distress over Sumter!

EXPLOSION OF THE MAGAZINE!

SUMTER A SHEET OF FLAME!!

A WHITE FLAG DISPLAY BY AN-

DERSON, AND ANSWERED

FROM THE SHORE!

ANDERSON SURRENDERS!

An Attack on Washington to be

Made if Successful at

Charleston!

Proclamation from the President for 75,000 Volunteers.

THE LATEST NEWS :THE WAR! THE CONFLICT Flag of Distress EXPLOSION SUMTER A WHITE FLAG ANDERSON SURRENDERS! An Attack on Washington, President’s Proclamation. (1861, April 15). Hartford Daily Courant (1840-1887),p. 2. Content from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Hartford Courant (1764 – 1922). (Document ID: 824809852).