Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861


What did Lincoln plan for the convention?

By 1860, Lincoln had become a rather skilled political operative, but he also needed the help of a team, and he had one that was growing in numbers and skill. These political “handlers” decided that Lincoln would remain in Springfield, while they would pack the convention hall with Lincoln supporters. This was not hard because Lincoln was the only Western man contending for the nomination.

As the balloting approached, Lincoln’s handlers formulated their plan. They knew that Seward would “win” the first ballot in terms of a plurality, but they intended to prevent him from gaining an outright majority. With each successive ballot, they reasoned, Lincoln would gain strength. The reason for this was that Seward, with a longer track record, had earned more enemies. Lincoln would, by comparison, seem eminently inoffensive. But there was more to the magic than the planning. The handlers also developed the single most enduring image of Lincoln: that of the Rail-Splitter.


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