SOCIALIST INFLUENCE IN THE
ELECTION OF 1860
We have written preciously about the socialist support Lincoln received from many "Forty-eighter" socialist from Europe during the War of Northern Aggression. Many of these European socialist joined Lincoln's army and became generals. We've also commented about the socialist support in Europe that Lincoln received and how he was much admired by Karl Marx.
In keeping with our contention that socialism was alive and well in this country long before most people care to admit that it was, we felt that a brief look at Lincoln's election in 1860 would be helpful. Lincoln received the support of socialist even before the War started. The socialists saw something in Lincoln's "cause" they could identify with.
Although many Germans, in 1860, favored Seward, they gladly switched over to Lincoln once he had endorsed a homestead law and an anti-nativist "Dutch Plank" for the Republican Party platform was written by none other than Forty-eighter socialist Carl Schurz, who was a member of the Republican Platform Committee. It is interesting that the almost baby-new Republican Party already had, in 1860, a socialist helping to write the party's platform.
Schurz, in his Autobiography of Carl Schurz alluded to this although somewhat modestly, as if he did not want people to grasp his full involvement. Schurz wrote: "I was appointed a member of the Committee on Resolution that had to draw up the Republican platform, and in that committee was permitted to write a paragraph concerning the naturalization laws so that the Republican Party be washed clean of the taint of Knownothingism.... I also took part in formulating the anti-slavery declarations on the platform..."
There were many Germans in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri, and Lincoln, though professing to be a "reluctant" candidate, was very conscious of the German vote. Pragmatic politician that he was, Lincoln purchased the German language newspaper Illinois Staatsanzeiger. He bought the whole thing, lock, stock, and barrel, press included. I find it amusing that Lincoln is so often portrayed in the "history" books as the poor, humble politician, trying to make his way as a lawyer. Obviously if he could afford to buy an entire newspaper he was not quite as poor as we have been led to believe and he must have been "making his way" quite well.
As the campaign of 1860 continued the Republicans even got hold of German orators to stress the importance of "German issues" in the campaign. As we observe these tactics, and see what is going on in "elections" today, we must be tempted to see the truth of the statement in the Book of Proverbs which says that the thing that has been is that which shall be and there is nothing new under the sun.
Forty-eighters other than Carl Schurz supported and worked for Lincoln. Edward Salomon did and he ended up becoming governor of Wisconsin in 1862. Sigmund Kaufman, yet another forty-eighter, was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1860. We might well speculate on how many delegates were socialists that we don't know about yet.
Other forty-eighters and socialist that supported Lincoln
and the Union were writer Casper Butts, journalists Friedrich Kapp and
Gustave Struve. Although these men did not get into combat as did
the socialist generals in the Union Army, they supported Lincoln and the
war effort on the journalistic front. The efforts of these men to
support Lincoln and the Union cause have borne sour fruit for the country,
even down to our own day. Unfortunately, we live with the results
of their actions.
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