The Election of Lincoln

San Francisco Daily Alta California, November 15, 1860

Abraham Lincoln is elected to be President of the United States for the term of four years. He has been chosen deliberately by the American people, after a fair canvass, in a constitutional manner. He has not only been elected by a constitutional vote, but we presume he has, if not an absolute majority of all the votes cast, at least a decided plurality over any one of the other candidates. California accepts him as her President, and has no complaint to make of the manner in which he has been chosen. Two-thirds of our citizens voted against him, but as a body they submit without a murmur to the decision of the majority or plurality of the people of the Union. The excitement and anger of the campaign are past: we are glad that it is over; we are quiet and content.

No doubt there will be an excitement in the South. Fire-eaters will demand a dissolution. Conventions will be called, speeches will be made, editorial articles will be written declaring that a dissolution must and should take place, and advising how it is to be effected. These things will all end in smoke. It is no easy matter to break up the Union: it is an easy matter for furious young men to speak and write furious words; but they will not control great interests and affections. The border slave States have signified by going for Bell and Everett, that they are opposed to disunion, and without their cooperation, the Gulf States will be powerless; and indeed we do not believe that even the Gulf States would in any probable event desire a dissolution.

We are confident in the opinion that the excitement in the South will soon cool down. It will be found that Lincoln is not so black as he is painted. It will be discovered that the charges of abolitionism and incendiarism are untrue; and that the President elect is a moderate and reasonable man. It will be remembered that the main principle of the Republican party, that of prohibiting slavery in the Territories, was acted upon by the First Congress, which unanimously passed an act confirming, in all its parts, the ordinance of 1787, prohibiting slavery in all the Territory then owned by the Union. Nobody then questioned, much less denied, the constitutionality of that act, nor was its constitutionality denied by any framers of the Constitution, either then or afterwards, notwithstanding the same principle was frequently acted upon by Congress. The question of constitutionality then has been taken out of the domain of legal interpretation, and has become a matter plain to everybody that can read the simplest language of history. The rabid men of the South will find that the Republicans are bound by their platform, which is moderate enough, and which they cannot violate without the grossest breach of honor. All these considerations must establish peace and quiet at no distant day, no matter how blustering a few may be.

But while we feel confident that there cannot be a dissolution, yet it may not be improper for us to devote a few minutes thought to what California should do, in case such an improbable and regrettable contingency should occur. Judge Botts, the State Printer, and editor of the Sacramento Standard, a Breckinridge organ, in the last number of his paper, devotes a long article to the subject, and the following is the pith of his conclusion:

It is beyond doubt, that if Lincoln is elected theUnion is dissolved. * * * In the event of a dissolution, what are we to do? Our answer—and we answer for nobody but our individual self—is ready and prompt. Call a Convention, with a view to the establishment of a separate and independent Republic upon the Pacific coast. People of California, ponder on this thing, for it is a subject upon which you will soon be called to act.

Let no one abroad quote that sentence as a fair expression of the opinion of California. It does not represent us. Its author has no right to express our views or purposes. True, he pretends to speak only for "our individual self," but he does not keep it to himself; he publishes his desire to the world, and that is about as much as most editors can do, and since he occupies a high official position in the State government, we must not allow his words to pass as if beneath notice. Though State Printer, he is an ultra member of a party which, with all the assistance of the Federal patronage and the influence of all our present representatives at Washington, has been overthrown in our State. It could not muster one-third of the voters of the State, the other two-thirds being, as is well known, directly opposed to dissolution, or to any attempt to justify it.

And if dissolution must come, against our desire and protest, we wish no independent republic, but will adhere to the North as a matter of interest, and affection on the part of a majority of our citizens, without the least ill-will or want of affection towards the South. We hope, and fervently trust, that the North and South may remain united forever; but if they will separate, we must choose to adhere to the North. The majority of our citizens are undoubtedly natives of the Northern States. California is a free State, as they are. The bulk of our population is to be expected from them in the future as they have furnished it in the past. Our imports come from them. Our exports go to them. Our treasure is shipped to them. Their ships fill our harbors. Their whalers and sailors fill the Pacific. The have the superabundance of population to fill up the vacant territories between us and the Missouri river. They have every interest to connect our coast with the Mississippi. They have the great share of the wealth, the military power, the population, and the elements of future growth, strength and prosperity of the Union; and we must remain with them, because we should not, and cannot, safely stand alone.

We repeat again, our firm conviction that there is conservative feeling and patriotism enough in the Union to withstand the fanatical views of either Northern or Southern demagogues, and with a Democratic Senate, and a probable Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, even if Lincoln were a fanatic, there can be no possible fear of acts which would give the color of chance for the disunionists.