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Union or Secession
  • "Troublous times are upon us"
  • "Troublous times are upon us"
On November 7, 1860, the day after the presidential election, a Pennsylvania native residing in Richmond reported to his brother in Philadelphia on the election's outcome.
Related documents:
  • "Curse their Wicked obstinacy"
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"Troublous times are upon us"

Jacob Bechtel to George Bechtel, November 7, 1860, Jacob H. Bechtel Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

On the day after the presidential election in November 1860, Jacob Bechtel, a Pennsylvania native residing in Richmond, reported to his brother in Philadelphia on the election's outcome. The 1860 presidential election was the closest ever in Virginia. The Constitutional Union Party nominees, John Bell, a former Whig from Tennessee, and Edward Everett, a former Whig from Massachusetts, narrowly defeated the Democrats. Bechtel rejoiced at the success of the Whigs. "Virginia will I believe acquiesce quietly in the result," he correctly predicted, "and await further developments.— Her position as a border state will induce this policy—for in Case of rupture, upon her soil the first battle would have to be fought." Bechtel also correctly predicted that in the end Virginia "may be dragged into the affray in spite of ourselves because in the Event of a Civil War, Virginia Would I believe ally her destiny with the other slave states."

Jacob Bechtel to George Bechtel, November 7, 1860, Jacob H. Bechtel Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
Richmond Nov 7th 1860—
Dear George,
Well the battle is over, and as the smoke clears away, We begin to see the results of the conflict
Here We have battled manfully. the Young whigs of Richmond have spared Neither labour nor money. Night after Night, her orators electrified listening masses at the club house, until the Memory of yesterday then each Man went forth to do his duty. We have carried the City and I would fain hope, the state for Bell and Everett, But what avails it at all! Every succeeding hour brings in the intelligence rapidly accumulating that Lincoln is bearing all down before him with overwhelming Majorities,—including old Pennsylvania—our Native state; Against such fearful odds, what hope is there for the feeble, divided south, At best in the Minority, and trebly so with three separate tickets in the field!—We tried all We Could to bring about a fusion, but in Vain— The party feelings of the respective clans Were too bitter—The Whigs felt that they have left the Democrats have full swing for Nearly twenty years, and it was the turn of the Democracy to yield; particularly since they Were divided, and We United—And Now! what Next! I fear troublous times are upon us— The South feels cut off as it Were from any part in the government, seeing that she resisted to the death the success of Lincoln—
What hope have We Now of any Consideration at the hands of the Victorious party, flushed with success, and greedy for spoils? And Can it be expected that a whole people Will submit to the aggressions of a dominant faction to aggravate her with impunity. Virginia will I believe acquiesce quietly in the result and await further developments.— Her position as a border state will induce this policy—for in Case of rupture, upon her soil the first battle would have to be fought. Not so with the states, further South—possessing a rampart in Virginia, they will act with less hesitation, and once the Sword is drawn God only Knows when it Will be sheathed— We here may be dragged into the affray in spite of ourselves because in the Event of a Civil War, Virginia Would I believe ally her destiny with the other slave states. One thing is Certain—Mr Lincoln will find it in true that "Uneasy rests the Head that Wears the Crown. When once the connection between the several states, can only be Maintained by the force of Compulsion it Will Cease to be any Union", It will not be Worth the trouble of Maintaining.—
I await with great Anxiety the final result, not Knowing what effect it May have against my future destiny.—One thing is Certain, so long as the Constitutional authorities Wield the Sword and administers the laws, I shall stand by the Union, and acknowledge No other flag than
"The star Spangled Banner"
We are all Well and hope that you and yours are the same. Remember Me to your Wife, and to all the other Members of our family, while I remain as Ever
Yours affectionately
JACOB