HOW AND WHY ABRAHAM LINCOLN STARTED THE WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION TO PROTECT HIS OWN POLITICAL CAREER
by Frank Conner
The North’s Republican party came out of nowhere in 1854, formed from the wreckage of the Whig party (the Northern Conscience-Whigs), and from the Free-Soilers and the Know-Nothings. It opposed slavery, and it demanded a powerful national-government which would subsidize Northern industrialization. The new Republican party grew very rapidly. Not surprisingly, its key bankrollers were Northern capitalists–financiers, shippers, industrialists, etc. Two of its founders and strongest political-leaders were Salmon P. Chase (first a senator and then a governor); and William H. Seward (also a governor and a senator).
At the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago, Chase and Seward were the favored candidates. Lincoln was a dark horse. In national politics, he had served only in the House, and only for one two-year term–1847-49: he had left Congress 11 years earlier! Lincoln had only three things going for him: he was considered a political lightweight, who could easily be manipulated by the powerbrokers; he himself was from Illinois, so the convention hall was located on his own stomping-grounds; and both he and his campaign manager–David E. Davis–were extraordinarily-adroit politicians.
In 1860 the vast majority of the Republicans did not want war. But the relatively-mild Seward had earlier coined several phrases which led many to believe mistakenly that he was a warmonger. And if Seward might possibly lead the country into war, the hot-head Chase would probably do so. Lincoln the unknown murmured soothing words of peace–which went down well. Meanwhile, he and Davis manipulated that convention behind the scenes in ways that would make today’s dirty-tricks advocates turn green with envy.
Consequently, Lincoln won the Republican nomination.
There were two factors about the Republican campaign in the election of 1860 which disturbed the Southerners so badly that Southern states subsequently seceded. First was the Republican-party platform for 1860.
Basically, the Northern capitalists wanted the U.S. government to tax (only) the South deeply, to finance the industrialization of the North, and the necessary transportation-net to support that. In those days, there was no income tax. The federal government received most of its revenue from tariffs (taxes) on imported goods. The Southern states imported from England most of the manufactured goods they used, thus paid most of the taxes to support the federal government. (The Northerners imported very little.)