Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Union or Secession
  • "To the Polls! To the Polls!"
Fearing the reaction of Southern states if Lincoln was elected president, on October 26, 1860, the editor of the Winchester Republican urged men to vote for Bell to prevent disunion.
« Return to Presidential Election in Virginia

"To the Polls! To the Polls!"

Excerpt from editorial in Winchester Republican, October 26, 1860

"The great question to be decided is" wrote the editor of the Winchester Republican a little more than a week before the presidential election, "shall this Union be dissolved? or shall it be perpetuated? The voice of Virginia will go farther towards determining this question, at this critical period, than any State in the South."

The title of the Winchester Republican referred back to the Jeffersonian Republicans of the 1790s. In 1860, the editor of the newspaper supported Constitutional Union Party candidate John Bell for president, not Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the new Republican Party founded in the mid-1850s. The editor also argued that if Virginia voted for Breckinridge, Southern extremists would endanger the Union.

TO THE POLLS! TO THE POLLS!
FRIENDS OF THE UNION, ARE YOU READY?

On next Tuesday we will be called upon to cast our votes for electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, upon the result of which hangs the fate of this republic. Have you, Union men of Frederick, considered well the responsibility, which rests upon each of you, in this contest? Are you prepared for the stern issues it presents? and the momentous consequences for weal or woe to the country, which must follow the result of this election. The great question to be decided is—shall this Union be dissolved? or shall it be perpetuated? The voice of Virginia will go farther towards determining this question, at this critical period, than any State in the South. As she decides so will the majority of the Southern States decide, in the event of Lincoln's election. Should that occur, which heaven forbid, the vote of Virginia for Breckinridge, will nerve the arms of the desperate disunionists in the Gulf States, to acts of revolution, which may bring upon us all the dreadful calamities of civil war—while her vote for John Bell, in that event, will stem the torrent of disunion sentiment, and "order a halt to the march of fanaticism," by causing those desperate leaders to reflect upon the position which Virginia—the mother of States—has taken in the contest. Her voice will give tone to Southern sentiment and in all probability bring peace to the country. Her vote for John Bell—the champion of the "Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws," will sound throughout the Southern States, her bold and stern rebuke to disunionists and secessionists wherever they may be found. Her vote for him will be her voice for the Union of these States—her vote for Breckinridge will "Fire up the Southern heart" to acts of desperation, which may lead to civil war.
Excerpt from editorial in Winchester Republican, October 26, 1860