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Union or Secession
  • "I do not think that the Union should be dissolved"
A Democrat in Washington County, in southwestern Virginia, stated in October 1860 that the election of Abraham Lincoln as president would not be reason to dissolve the Union.
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"I do not think that the Union should be dissolved"

Extract from public announcement of Leonidas Baugh, a candidate for a vacant seat in the Virginia House of Delegates from Washington County. Abingdon Democrat, October 12, 1860.

Leonidas Baugh, of Washington County, in southwestern Virginia, published a public letter in October 1860 while he was a candidate for a vacant seat in the House of Delegates. Baugh expressed his attitudes about the candidates for president and indicated that he favored Democrat John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, for president, and Senator Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for vice president. "Yet should Lincoln and Hamlin unfortunately be elected," he wrote, "I do not think that the Union should be dissolved; but would say in the language of Gen. Joseph Lane, 'we must content ourselves with the thought that four years will quickly pass, and at the expiration of that time the people will rise in their might and place a man in the Presidential chair who will stand by the principles of the Constitution as now explained by the Supreme Court.'" His quotation from Lane referred to the Supreme Court's 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that Congress could not forbid slavery in the western territories. Like most other white Virginians of the time, Baugh referred to Republicans as "Black Republicans," a commonplace phrase that condemned the party as too favorable toward the interests of slaves and hostile toward the interests of slaveowners.

Abingdon Democrat, October 12, 1860.
It is possible (but we would fain hope barely possible) that the Black Republican candidate for the Presidency may be elected, which God forbid; but should such a dire calamity befall this country, it will require all the wisdom, firmness, and patriotism of the country to protect Virginia, in common with the whole South, against the evils that will inevitably flow from such a result.
How the Union shall be preserved and our Constitutional rights maintained will require our most earnest consideration.
The party of which Messrs. Bell and Everett are the representatives, is impotent for good. In some few of the Northern States they may "hold the balance of power," but we have no assurance that if such is the fact, that their power will be exerted to maintain the Constitutional rights of the South.
Of the three "conservative candidates" for the Presidency, Mr. Bell would be the most acceptable to the Republicans. With the entire South for Breckinridge & Lane, the election of one or the other of them by the House of Representatives, or the Senate should the election go there, is almost absolutely certain unless the American members of the House shall vote for Lincoln, whilst it is by no means impossible for Breckinridge and Lane to be chosen to the Presidency and Vice Presidency by the Electoral Colleges, should they receive the whole vote of the South.
With this view of the subject, and whilst deploring the division that now exists in the Democratic party, I shall support the Breckinridge & Lane Ticket in Virginia, because every Democratic vote given to any other Ticket than the Breckinridge & Lane Ticket will be a vote against the Democratic sentiment of the State—against the Democratic Party of the State—and against the Democratic Party of the Union.
Yet should Lincoln and Hamlin unfortunately be elected, I do not think that the Union should be dissolved; but would say in the language of Gen. Joseph Lane, "we must content ourselves with the thought that four years will quickly pass, and at the expiration of that time the people will rise in their might and place a man in the Presidential chair who will stand by the principles of the Constitution as now explained by the Supreme Court."
Extract from public announcement of Leonidas Baugh that he was a candidate for a vacant seat in the Virginia House of Delegates from Washington County.