He did not break with the Abolitionists, although he kept on the edge of a quarrel with them, and especially with what he called the “Greeley faction,” a good part of the time. He never liked them, but he was a shrewd man—a born politician—and was too sagacious to discard the principal round in the ladder by which he had climbed to eminence. He managed to keep in touch with the Anti-Slavery movement through all its steady advancement, but, as elsewhere stated, it was as a follower rather than as a leader.
While a resident of the slave State of Missouri, I twice voted for Mr. Lincoln, which was some evidence of my personal feeling toward him. Both times I did it somewhat reluctantly. On the first occasion there were four candidates. Breckenridge and Bell were Southern men—both by residence and principle—and had no claim on Anti-Slavery support. But with Douglas the case was different. He had quarreled with the pro-slavery leaders, although of his own party. He had defied President Buchanan in denouncing border-ruffianism in Kansas. He had refused to give up his “popular sovereignty” dogma, although it clearly meant ultimate free soil. The slave-masters hated him far more than they did Lincoln. I heard them freely discuss the matter. They were more afraid of the vindictiveness of the fiery Douglas than of the opposition of good-hearted, conservative Lincoln. In my opinion there was good reason for that feeling. Douglas, as President, would undoubtedly have pushed the war for the Union with superior energy, and slavery would have suffered rougher treatment from his hands than it did from Mr. Lincoln’s. There was another reason why the slaveholders preferred the election of Lincoln to that of Douglas. Lincoln’s election would furnish the better pretext for the rebellion on which they were bent, and which they had already largely planned. They were resolved to defeat Douglas at all hazards, and they succeeded.
Douglas had been very distasteful to the Abolitionists. They called him a “dough-face.” Nevertheless, quite a number of them where I lived in Missouri voted for him. Missouri was the only State he carried, and there he had less than five hundred majority. He got more than that many free-soil votes. I was strongly tempted to give him mine. Chiefly on account of political associations, I voted for Lincoln.
When it came to the second election, I again voted for Mr. Lincoln with reluctance. The principal reason for my hesitancy was his treatment of the Anti-Slavery people of the border slave States, and especially of Missouri. The grounds for my objection on that score will appear in the next chapter, which deals with the Missouri embroglio, as it was called.
From what has just been stated, it will be seen that the cause of Anti-Slaveryism had, at the formation of the Republican party, reached a most perilous crisis. It was in danger of being submerged and suffocated by unsympathetic, if not positively unfriendly, associations. It ran the risk, after so many years of toil and conflict, of being undone by those in whose support it was forced to confide. Such would undoubtedly have been its fate if, owing to circumstances over which no political party or other organization of men had control, the current of Anti-Slavery sentiment had not risen to a flood that swept all before it.