Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?: A Short History of the Gop

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9780805032673: Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?: A Short History of the Gop
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Filled with memorabilia, political cartoons, and period illustrations, a history of the Republican party cites its beginning in 1854 in the face of the antislavery movement, notes its dramatic and often paradoxical practices, and considers its uncertain future. 50,000 first printing.

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The following is part of Chapter One.

"Ain't You Glad You Joined The Republicans?" 1854-1865

At Chicago, the gavel pounded to open the Republican presidential nominating convention at exactly noon, Wednesday, May 16, 1860.

No one came to order. There were ten thousand Republicans inside this tall, vast, turreted meeting hall called the Wigwam; ten thousand more waited outside on a field located between Michigan Avenue and the lake; and everyone was as wild as children as they hollered and signaled that the time for the hard questions was finally here.

Who will be our candidate? Who can whip the Democrats? Who can end slavery? Who can stop disunion? Who's going to be the first Republican president in history?

After six angry years of a revolution at the ballot box that had invented a modern political party out of disgust for the South's slaveholding, the Republicans ached to know: who will lead us to total victory?

Rumors swept the arena like gusts off the lake. In this brand-new building the acoustics were so sharp that everyone could hear the speakers at the podium at the same time they suffered the hammering and sawing from the roof as crews rushed to finish the shell. The interior was arranged in a pecking order: At the center there were seats for one thousand delegates and alternates arranged by states on the wide, low platform. Behind the delegates were chairs for eighty VIP editors, and in the lower gallery directly in back were seats for several hundred more journalists. Squeezed in everywhere else along the upper galleries were thousands of male spectators, who were flanked by two ladies-only sections overhanging the stage wings.

Such dazzling excitement made folk "orationize" spontaneously and disagree passionately. Seward? Bates? Fremont? McLean? Lincoln? Surely it will be Seward!

Review:

The only thing better than reading John Calvin Batchelor's Ain't You Glad You joined The Republicans? would be reading it with a Republican President in The White House. -- Senator Bob Dole

True, Lincoln wasn't presidential timber, too little known, too conservative on the demand for immediate abolition, too unfamiliar with the potentates in the Capitol who ruled the country like dukes. But he was well liked. Maybe if the promoters worked hard, Lincoln could win the support of the anti-Seward men for the bottom of the ticket?

And yet Lincoln, waiting by the telegraph office in the dusty spring air of his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, had instructed his supporters carefully that it would be all or nothing -- he didn't want the vice presidency.

The convention adjourned the first day past 10 p.m. The Republican mob, smelling of chewing tobacco and groaning out its hunger, poured out of the giant Wigwam and headed for the hotels off Michigan that were jammed with up to forty thousand visitors. The luxurious Tremont House was the official headquarters of the power brokers, and it was raucous with argument and song. Not a few of the boys slopped their beer and shouted out that chorus first popularized back in '56: "Ain't You Glad You Joined the Republicans?"

The newspapermen, dressed like beggars, eavesdropped quietly and then headed for the magnetic telegraphs.

Seward's friends headed for the private bar. How many votes have we got?

At midnight the reports were shaky for Seward. Indiana vacillating; Virginia perhaps not voting at all; Maine unsettled. The only certain delegations for Seward were New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Texas.

Seward's lieutenant and moneyman, Thurlow Weed, told the press, "Everything depends upon the obstinacy and union of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois."

Elsewhere in the Tremont House, the platform committee scribbled and argued. Slavery must be abolished! No, slavery must be contained! No, we must listen to Seward's own words -- that the debate over slavery is "an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces." No, Seward is too much like the radicals! He can't carry the doubtful Border states! --

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