Abraham Lincoln and the Union: A Chronicle of the Embattled North

By Nathaniel W. Stephenson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
THE PARTY OF POLITICAL EVASION

IN order to understand Douglas one must understand the Democratic party of 1854 in which Douglas was a conspicuous leader. The Democrats boasted that they were the only really national party and contended that their rivals, the Whigs and the Know-Nothings, were merely the representatives of localities or classes. Sectionalism was the favorite charge which the Democrats brought against their enemies; and yet it was upon these very Democrats that the slaveholders had hitherto relied, and it was upon certain members of this party that the label, "Northern men with Southern principles," had been bestowed.

The label was not, however, altogether fair, for the motives of the Democrats were deeply rooted in their own peculiar temperament. In the last analysis, what had held their organization together, and what had enabled them to dominate politics

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