Tuesday, May 18, 2010

150 Years Ago

Randall Stephens

The Chicago Tribune marks an interesting anniversary. It was 150 years ago on May 18, 1860, that the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln for its national ticket. "From the perspective of 150 years," writes Richard Norton Smith, "it seems providential that Republicans should hold their 1860 convention in Chicago; that they should pass over their young party's most prominent figures, choosing instead a one-term congressman and unsuccessful Senate candidate who would go on to set the standard for presidential leadership." Lincoln, the rail splitter, took on a mythical air to supporters, a monstrous "black republican" aspect to his many critics.

This from Life and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln (New York, 1860):


The following is the correspondence between the officers of the Republican National Convention and the candidates thereof for President and Vice-President:

Chicago, May 18, 1860.

To the Honorable Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois:

Sir:—The representatives of the Republican party of the United States, assembled in convention at Chicago, have, this day, by a unanimous vote, selected you as the Republican candidate for the office of President of the United States, to be supported at the next election ; and the undersigned were appointed a committee of the convention to apprize you of this nomination, and respectfully to request that you will accept it. A declaration of the principles and sentiments adopted by the convention, accompanies this communication.

In the performance of this agreeable duty, we take leave to add our confident assurance that the nomination of the Chicago convention will be ratified by the suffrages of the people.

We have the honor to be, with great respect and regard, your friends and fellow-citizens . . .

Sir:—I accept the nomination tendered me by the convention over which you presided, and of which I am formally apprized in the letter of yourself and others, acting as a committee of the convention, for that purpose.

The declaration of principles and sentiments, which accompanies your letter, meets my approval; and it shall be my care not to violate or disregard it, in any part.

Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due regard to the views and feelings of all who were represented in the convention; to the rights of all the States and territories, and people of the nation; to the inviolability of the Constitution, and the perpetual union, harmony, and prosperity of all, I am most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles declared by the convention.

Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,

Abraham Lincoln

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