CAMPAIGN 2016: Looking for a little wisdom from past leaders

America will never be destroyed

from the outside.

If we falter and lose our freedoms,

it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

— Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States


LINCOLN WATCHED AMERICA BEING TORN APART. The anger and frustration had escalated over decades into threats, then violence... and eventually civil war.

Thirty years before that war began, one man — John C. Calhoun — began to sow the seeds of rebellion. And though he died before the first shot of that bloody war, he lit the fire that began it all.

Two very different leaders — Lincoln and Calhoun. Today, one is reviled, the other revered. And both believed they were right. 

 Carl Francis


ON MAY 18, 1860 AT THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION IN CHICAGO, Lincoln's friends promised and manipulated and won him the nomination on the third ballot, beating candidates such as William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase. Pennsylvania put him over the top.

Lincoln's success depended in large part on his reputation as a moderate on slavery. Throughout the 1850s, Lincoln doubted the prospects of civil war, and his supporters rejected claims that his election would incite secession.

As Frederick Douglas and the other candidates campaigned, Lincoln was the only one who gave no speeches. Instead, he monitored the campaign closely and relied on the enthusiasm of the Republican Party. The party did the leg work that produced majorities across the North, and produced an abundance of campaign posters, leaflets, and newspaper editorials.

There were thousands of Republican speakers who focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln's life story, emphasizing his childhood poverty.