Abstract

On November 1, 1860, America was five days away from the election that would decide the next President, and ultimately, the fate of the nation. In Illinois, emotions ran high, and citizens had regularly turned out at political gatherings in full force to endorse their presidential favorite. Both Democrats and Republicans were confidant that the election of their candidate would save the Union, and the election of the opponent would plunge the country into civil war. In Springfield, Illinois Republicans hosted a mass meeting to rally the supporters of Lincoln in the upcoming presidential election and to intimidate the "terror stricken enemy." This meeting was attended by thousands of citizens from the city and surrounding area, drawing visitors who traveled over miles of dusty prairie roads to attend the festivities. The lucky ones took rooms at hotels or boardinghouses. The rest of the masses camped out or found hospitality among the Republican citizens of the city. The evening's events included "a magnificent feast" prepared by "the hospitable ladies of our city," music from a brass band and the local Glee Club, and a speech in the Hall of Representatives. "A vast crowd of ladies and gentlemen" attended these festivities, and the Illinois State Journal reported, behaved "with far more enthusiasm than could reasonably be expected." Overall, this gathering drew thousands of politically minded citizens male and female - who hoped to prevent Douglas's "mad and suicidal" political agenda.

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