The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics - Vol. 1

By William Ernest Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
THE ELECTIONS OF 1858: DRIFTING TOWARD CIVIL WAR

Here is a colossal aggregation of wealth invested in negroes, which undertakes to seize this Government to pervert it to its own purpose, and to prevent the freemen of the country from entering the Territories except in competition with slave labor; and the Democratic party, instead of standing where it used to stand, in opposition to these Anti-Democratic measures, is as servile a tool of the oligarchy as are the negro slaves themselves.

-- F. P. BLAIR, JR.


1

THE elections of 1858 were preludes to that of 1860 in more than one way. Reason was fast being replaced by passion, vilification and hatred. Two of these Congressional elections were of primary importance to the Blairs. In Illinois Lincoln and Douglas staged a series of joint debates which attracted the notice of the nation and clearly set forth views on the colonization of free negroes at state expense and orientated themselves in the ranks of the Republican party. They, furthermore, unfortunately became involved in a bitter quarrel with William Carey Jones, son- in-law of the deceased Benton, an altercation that gained neither disputant anything.


2

Frank Blair met Lincoln in the office of the latter when he went to Washington to enter Congress in 1857. These two astute politicians agreed to make the border regions the center of their fight against the further extension of slavery. They expected to see two eventful years ahead while they prepared for the battle in 1860. William H. Herndon, Lincoln's law partner in Springfield, wrote to Theodore Parker the next day after the conference that the two conferees said, "We are to see the devil in these

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