“If Donald Trump is Nominated By the Cleveland Convention What Course Should Establishment Republicans Pursue?”


– 5 March 2016 –

Barzillai “19th Century” Bozarth:

19th-century-barzillaiThe situation with the divided Republican Party today, where one group of politicians refuses to support their party’s front-runner and conspires to destroy him at every opportunity, shows a great similarity to the situation of the Democratic Party in 1860 that led ultimately to the Civil War.

The Democratic Party should have won the 1860 presidential election rather than lose to Lincoln and the Republicans. In those days the Democratic Party represented conservative forces throughout the United States, people who wished to preserve the status quo.  The new opposing party, the Republicans, having formed in 1854 out of the abolitionist remnants of the fallen Whig party, continued to pursue a relatively radical agenda that failed to appeal to a solid majority. The conservative Democrats should have easily defeated the radical Republicans.

However, the Democrats could not agree on a candidate. Southern Democrats refused to accept the front-runner, Stephen A. Douglas, because of his moderate stances on slavery in the territories. Unionist Democrats could not agree to the Southern “Fire-Eater” demands to add protections of slavery in the territories to the party platform, believing that such protections would ensure Democratic losses in the Northern states. For various reasons, many of them hidden from the public, neither side would compromise on what should have been a minor issue: the decisions of settlers to settle the question of slavery in their respective territories.

The following article, written in the Louisville Journal on April 20, 1860, demonstrates this stubborn and heated refusal of both sides to compromise on any issue:

The Southern Confederacy, a fire-eating paper that has nominated Alexander H. Stephens for the Presidency and Daniel S. Dickinson for the Vice-Presidency, and keeps their names flying at its mast-head, asks in staring head-lines, “IF STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS IS NOMINATED BY THE CHARLESTON CONVENTION, WHAT COURSE SHOULD THE SOUTHERN STATES PURSUE?” and answers the portentous question as follows:

The South has nothing to fear from a dissolution of the Union, but everything to gain. And whilst we desire its perpetuation upon a constitutional basis, still if it is to be held in tact simply for the purpose of subserving the fanatical interests of a piratical and sectional combination, we would prefer to see it torn into fragments and scattered to the four winds.  The South as a people neither asks nor expects anything but their constitutional rights.  This, if we mistake not, she is determined to have in the future at all hazards.  The nomination of Judge Douglas by the Charleston Convention—by the combined vote of the North, would in our estimation, be an overt act of sufficient importance to cause a dissolution.  For his nomination would be in the name of that party which can only give security to Southern interests.  When that party representing a meagre minority of doubtful proclivities so far forgets the rights of the slaveholding States as to thrust upon them a disguised hypocrite, let them reap as they have sown.  And should any Southern State prove in that convention particeps criminis to so foul a deed, we trust enough will be left whose escutcheons are untainted to retire from the plot house of treason and nominate a ticket that will rally to its standard every true Southron.  Let us have a ticket that is to the “manor born,” and one that will inaugurate Southern Independence in fact and in truth.  In these views we believe we are endorsed by nine-tenths of the Southern people.  Woe unto those at the South who have attempted to inveigle us into the support of the Arnold Douglas.  And woe be unto him from the South who casts a vote for our worst enemy.  It is deplorable indeed that even the name of Judge Douglas is mentioned in connection with the Charleston Convention.  It is significant of the awful fact that there are many amongst us who are ready to surrender the last vestige of hope—the last anchor of protection!


The stubbornness of Democrats in 1860 led to the division of the party in two and a victory for Lincoln. Had they not split, Lincoln would have lost the election, with the Civil War likely delayed or prevented.

Now, all this rumpus, be it observed, is kicked up by a paper whose avowed first choice for the Presidency stands squarely on the policy of Douglas, and whose avowed first choice for the Vice-Presidency stands squarely on both the doctrine and the policies of Douglas.  That is to say, Stephens assents to absolute non-intervention, and Dickinson subscribes to squatter-sovereignty.  And the Southern Confederacy must be perfectly aware of this.  So much for the sincerity of the most blazing of the fire-eating organs.  The Confederacy’s flourish about Douglas is mere gammon.  If Douglas should be nominated at Charleston, it would presently throw up its cap and bells and shout as loudly over the deed as our neighbor of the Democrat himself.  No doubt of it; and if it didn’t perhaps the result would be much the same.

We entreat the Charleston Convention to pay no regard to this sort of vaporing.  It signifies nothing.  The bark of the fire-eater is deafening but his bite is not in the least hurtful.  In fact, he seldom gets his own consent to bite at all.  His selfishness subdues him.  He is really the most tractable of animals.  Show him which side of his bread is buttered, and he will keep it uppermost, at the cost of every command of the decalogue.  Therefore, let the Charleston Convention proceed, un-awed by these empty fulminations.  Let Douglas be nominated by all means.  He is the best living embodiment of the instincts and tendencies of the Democracy, and we should like at this stage of our history to encounter that destructive and demoniacal spirit in its sharpest and most naked form.  We should like it above most things.  It would save a world of argument touching the character of our adversary if we could just point to the horns and the cloven foot in full view!  Douglas is on every account our first choice for the Charleston nomination.  We hope the Convention will steady its nerves and not take fright at the dramatic roaring of Snug the joiner.

So in those days we had a group of stubborn politicians who vowed, if their hated candidate for president won their party’s nomination, to potentially destroy their own political party, deliberately divide their party to ensure the victory of the opposition, and possibly drag their entire nation into civil war.

And today we likewise have a group of hysterical, uncompromising politicians who vow, if their hated candidate for president wins the nomination, to potentially destroy their party entirely, divide their party ticket to ensure victory for the other party, and to possibly deepen divisions within the country that ultimately lead to civil war.

The parallels to the present time don’t bode well for the near future of the United States.

Louisville Journal XXX, No. 116 (1860): 2

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  1. Of course, the Fire Eaters were correct in that the South could get along fine without the North. What they didn’t foresee was that the Republicans would attack the South to prevent secession.

    You haven’t been around much lately, taking a break from the intertubes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The two situations, now and 1860, are certainly not identical.

      In 1860, it was the radical conservatives, the Fire Eaters, who provoked the electoral crisis against the burgeoning Northern Establishment’s cultural, economic, and political dominance.

      Now it is the descendants of that victorious Northern Establishment, now completely dominant, who are provoking an electoral crisis in order to maintain their power.

      I can sympathize with the Fire Eater view to some extent (assuming I understand it correctly): should the South have remained in the Union it would have gradually become a colony of the North. Better to have forced the South out of the Union while they had the power to do so.

      It’s more difficult to sympathize with today’s Establishment. I don’t have a problem with elites per se. But this Establishment has orchestrated—or at least cooperated with—the destruction of every foundation that supports our nation and people, and with such contempt. I can only rejoice at any force, even one so imperfect as Donald Trump, that generates so much fear in this wicked Establishment that they would risk the destruction of our country to resist it.

      It’s laugh-out-loud funny how the Establishment has dragged out every geriatric loser candidate that we were supposed to hold our noses to vote for. How odd to see Dole and McCain and Romney fight so passionately against a fellow Republican when we recall their flaccid, milquetoast efforts against Clinton and Obama respectively. And all of those Neocon Jews crawl into the light like rats to shriek their displeasure.

      It’s also interesting that both sides in 1860 seriously underestimated the determination of the other to fight for their respective sides.

      Such is the nature of these generational crisis mindsets: each side would rather fight and die than to compromise with the other side. We’re in a similar mindset today, apparently on all sides of the cultural divide and all around the world at one time. That mindset will almost certainly lead to a world war but there is also a growing possibility that we’ll have a Balkans-style civil war here in the United States at the same time. Exciting times! (Whether we want them or not.)

      And we have to be careful that we don’t assume the limp-wristed Milennial LGBTQBP freaks won’t fight hard against us. I imagine they will somehow manage to surprise us, at least with their black and brown running dogs to support them.

      The two-month break wasn’t intended. I got side-tracked on other projects and have a difficult time focusing on too many things at once. Once I take a little break, like at Christmas-time, it’s easy to get distracted by matters that don’t involve the analysis of the rapid demise of our peoples.

      But you’ll probably see more activity here and possibly (hopefully) elsewhere for a while. Trying to get the fires going again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have purposefully limited my internet specifically so I can focus on things that ‘don’t involve the analysis of the rapid demise of our peoples’! Keeps me sane(ish).

        ‘In 1860, it was the radical conservatives, the Fire Eaters, who provoked the electoral crisis’

        The two periods are not the same, but there is a lot of similarity if you consider that the current establishment are, technically, the radical conservatives of our time while we [whatever ‘we’ are] are the radicals. A big difference is we are not progressive radicals in the sense of creating something new and utopian, but radical traditionalists wanting to create something newish on the foundations of what came before.

        As for interesting times, I am reminded that the Chinese proverb, ‘may you live in interesting times’, can be a blessing or a curse.


  1. “If Donald Trump is Nominated By the Cleveland Convention What Course Should Establishment Republicans Pursue?” | Rifleman III Journal

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