On election day eve… Monday night, November 5, 1860

Posted on November 4, 2008 by


As a follow-up to my two posts (Oct. 29 & 30) about Stephen Douglas’ visit to Staunton and Harrisonburg, Virginia, I was wondering… as Virginians stood on the eve of the election of 1860, what were their thoughts?

Flipping through the “virtual stack” of digitized era newspapers, I find that we have access to copies of the Richmond Dispatch, Staunton’s Republican Vindicator, and the Staunton Spectator. Respectively, for each paper, the two issues closest and leading up to election day were issued on Nov. 3 & 5 (Richmond Dispatch), Oct. 26 & Nov. 2 (Staunton’s Republican Vindicator), and Oct. 23 & 30 (Staunton Spectator).

The Vindicator also shares a couple of views into the thoughts presented in the Rockingham Register and Winchester Republican.

Just a few blurbs from the Richmond Dispatch

Voters, attention
–The question is asked, “On whom shall we unite?” We should unite upon some man who we unite?” We should unite upon some man who is a true son of the Union; some man who, while he has maintained all of our rights, has respected and conceded the rights of other sections; some man who, like Washington and Jackson, has regarded the union of these States as embracing their liberty, their glory, their peace and their Happiness. And such a man is John Bell. Unite upon him and you may have a United South, a United North, a United east. a United West. Union men, unite on John Bell.”

A Dissolution of The union.
–Are you prepared for this?– Thoughtful men! business men! Christian men! Bell men! Douglas men! conservative men of every party, are you ready, are you willing to see your great and glorious country torn into “dishonored fragments?” Shall that which is now the glory and admiration of the world, become a hissing and by-word to the nations? Shall you live to look upon ” States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or Drenched with Fraternal Blood? & if you would avoid this, avoid Breckinridge as you would Lincoln.

Voters, attention
–“we shall Fire the Southern heart, Instruct the Southern mind, give Courage to each other, and at the proper moment, by one Organized, Concerted action. We can precipitate the Cotton States into A Revolution.”

Such is the language of the great Breckinridge leader. Patriotic Union men of Virginia, are you prepared to precipitate this glorious Union into a Revolution?

Douglas and Johnson, the only regular nominees of the National Democracy. to the polls! to the polls!! National Democrats, read and Ponder well.
–Remember, that Douglas was nominated to defeat Lincoln, and that Breckinridge was brought out for the purpose of weakening the Democratic party, and thus secure the election of Lincoln by defeating Douglas. Will honest and true Democrats, in view of this, still cling to Breckinridge, and thus break up the Democratic party? elect a Republican, and bring all the evils of civil war upon a prosperous and happy country?

Looks like Breckinridge is bad news. Better not vote for him.

In the Valley, it appears that the Winchester Republican is on to Breckinridge’s wicked ways…

Secession Democracy is resolved to resort to all sorts of trickery to carry the State.–Look out, Douglas men, for a spurious ticket, with the names of DOUGLAS and JOHNSON at the head, but with the BRECKINRIDGE Electors on it. There is such a ticket in existence.

And, from the Vindicator, there is this piece…

This is the last issue of the Vindicator previous to the grand demonstration on the 6th of November–next Tuesday. We can only say the cause of the country is in the hands of the friends of Douglas and Johnson. Let each man rest sensibly under his obligation, and for this once rise to that magnitude of manhood which is commensurate with the immense issue of the Canvass–Union or Disunion–Douglas or Breckinridge. Every man must be up and doing. A little work–active exertions, will redeem Virginia from the suspicion of Disunion, and Douglas and the Constitution will triumph over Whiggery, Know Nothingism, Congressional Slave Codes, and every species of heresy and treachery.–Once more to the breach! On ye braves, and strike this decisive blow for your country and her cause! If fanaticism be beaten down and crushed on this occasion, then farewell to it! We are safe! Our household idols and our domestic tranquility, which rest under the aegis of the Union, will be vindicated and secured and prosperity will follow in our footsteps as a people and nation. Homes, hearths, liberty, and union depend upon present action! Strike! for your alters and your fires! Strike! for the green graves of your sires! God and your native land!

Interesting reading? Take some time navigating through the hyperlinks above to read more.