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Lincoln and the Decision for WarThe Northern Response to Secession$
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Russell McClintock

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831885

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807886328_mcclintock

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I Would Not Endanger the Perpetuity of This Union: November

I Would Not Endanger the Perpetuity of This Union: November

(p.30) Chapter 2 I Would Not Endanger the Perpetuity of This Union: November
Lincoln and the Decision for War

Gary W. Gallagher

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how Northerners experienced a state of anxious bewilderment during the weeks immediately following the election. Compounding that feeling was an absence of active political leadership, as Stephen Douglas, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln, each for his own reasons, largely refrained from making public statements. In ordinary times their silence would have been neither significant nor unusual: although party organization and leadership drove antebellum politics, it was the organizations and leaders in the various states that provided the central element. In the face of a growing national crisis, however, the lack of direction from national party leaders proved critical. Left to their own devices, state and local leaders, particularly editors, spewed forth a jumbled confusion of assessments and strategies that exacerbated tensions within both the Republican and the anti-Republican camps.

Keywords:   Northerners, anxious bewilderment, active political leadership, Stephen Douglas, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln

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