The Republican National Convention of 1860 and How it Shaped the Nation
The leadup to the presidential election of 1860 found America bitterly divided, as the dominant Democratic Party broke up over the intense pressure of slavery, and the six-year-old Republican Party sought a leader who could win. The story of the convention to name the Republican Party’s candidate – eight days that led to Abraham Lincoln’s nomination – makes clear that Lincoln’s extraordinary quest to lead the party might have collapsed, with fatal consequences for the United States of America.
The convention was held in Chicago, although Lincoln himself waited for news from Springfield, far from the heavy drinking, humor, jealousy, political animosities, and angling for power that were the stuff of political life of the times. The Lincoln Miracle: The Republican National Convention of 1860 and How It Shaped the Nation plunges the reader right into the convention, to experience the sights, sounds and smells of Chicago in 1860. The tension-filled maneuvering of the political players and the candidates’ managers echo the forces buffeting the nation — particularly over slavery and Lincoln’s vision for ending it.
With its secretive and sordid horse-trading, the convention allows us to see Lincoln’s strengths as a political strategist. His plan played out perfectly against long odds, thanks to the hard work of friends whose extraordinary loyalty he had the gift of cultivating. The Lincoln Miracle opens a window on the tremendous political forces tearing America apart as it lurched toward the bloody and catastrophic Civil War.