From New York Lincoln went to fill other engagements to speak at several places in New England, where he met the same enthusiastic popular reception and left the same marked impression, especially upon his more critical and learned hearers. They found no little surprise in the fact that a Western politician, springing from the class of unlettered frontiersmen, could not only mold plain strong words into fresh and attractive phraseology, but maintain a clear, sustained, convincing argument, equal in force and style to the best examples in their college text-books.
THE CHARLESTON CONVENTION
The great political struggle between the North and the South, between Freedom and Slavery, was approaching its culmination. The “irrepressible conflict” had shifted uneasily from caucus to Congress; from Congress to Kansas; incidentally to the Supreme Court and to the Congressional elections in the various States; from Kansas it had come back with renewed intensity to Congress. The next stage of development through which it was destined to pass was the Presidential election of 1860, where, necessarily, the final result would depend largely upon the attitude and relation of parties, platforms, and candidates as selected and proclaimed by their National conventions.
The first of these National conventions was that of the Democratic party, long appointed to meet at Charleston, South Carolina, on April 23, 1860. The fortunes of the party had greatly fluctuated. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise had brought it shipwreck in 1854; it had regained victory in the election of Buchanan, and a majority of the House of Representatives in 1856; then the Lecompton imbroglio once more caused its defeat in the Congressional elections of 1858. But worse than the victory of its opponents was the irreconcilable schism in its own ranks—the open war between President Buchanan and Senator Douglas. In a general way the Southern Democracy followed Buchanan, while the Northern Democracy followed Douglas. Yet there was just enough local exception to baffle