Lincoln article 642

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                      September                      "YoungMen for'War":
                                                     TheWIde Awakesand Lincoln's1860
Dir.. i rcnrh-century American
I r..,,rds. Following Pinsker's                      PresidentialCamPaign
r Clinton, Michael F. Holt,
tiri. on the stateof the field.

pn, :hc Interchange conversa-
th. gl,rbalLincoln.
                                                     Jon Grinspan

n , , n l i n e p r o j e c tf o r t h i s s P e -                 "sleepyGotham politicians"gathered a Manhattan tavernlate one eve-
                                                     A band of
inrc:.hange;a bibliograPhY                    of
                                                     ning in 1860.I; was a windy Thursdayiight, "t d the atmosphere               insidethe dimly lit
ling  rhe digital Lincoln; and a
                                                     .r,#lirh-..rt    was subdued.The borr.i o.Je.ed ale and settled         into alazy debate.about
oic.r. lincoln/.                                                                                                                     their presidential
                                                     the usualpolitical topics.They cursedthe Republic"" q:t,I,.,""alyzed
                                                     ticket, ani worried "bo,rt th.'possibilityof secession, *hil. getting
                                                     in the cozytavern.
                                                                                                                                           of a march-
                                                         They fiLt heardthe noisearound midnigtrt. From uptown came. clash       the
                                                     fu,gb;a followedby rhe advancing         tr."d.oilr,r.rdreds of bootson the cobblestones the of
                                                                                                                       and the tavern's  dark windows
                                                     B.:*.ry. Soonrhe ,t.rr.h of burnin"g filled their nostrils,
                                                     b;";ir     glow from the outside.    Tifsy and curious, insiders
                                                                                                                the        spilledout onto the street
                                                                                                                                              of young
                                                     ,rl"i" " ihro'g of dazedNew Yorters.Therethey watchedaslargeformations
                                                                                   blackcapes soldiers;
                                                                                                and           caps, camestomping.down.the       middle
                                                     men, cladin shimmering
                                                                                                                                           through the
                                                     of their island. Each bo?ea blazing torch, and none said a word. Pushing
                                                                                                   "'who arethese
                                                      crowd,the sobered     politicians  shouied,                   wide Awakes?"l
                                                          The march that shook New York wasone of thousands           that poured through America's
                                                      ciries,towns,and villages 1860,startedby a revolutionary
                                                                                    in                                    new politicalorganization'
                                                                                                     AbrahamLincoln, the strange       movement     elec-
                                                      Stumpingfor the R.pibli.".r candidate,
                                                                               election.Youngmen from Bangor to SanFrancisco "fell      and from huge
                                                      trifi.i th! presidential
                                                      philadelphia clubs to tiny Iowa ,.o,ip., donned ,rrrifor-t, lit torches,and                 iri' to
                                                                                                                                      and trickled into
                                                      pr."Jo-itiory marching.o-p"rri.r. They flooded everynorthern state
                                                      'rrpper                                                                                       "five
                                                              So,rth aties like f", \Theeling,   and St. Louis. Launchedin March by
                                                      y;i"g arl' goodsclerks" in Hartford, Connecticut, by November the'Wide
                                                      h.u.lIp.i i"rrto" ,,"tiorr*ide grassroots    movement     with hundredsof thousands mem- of
                                                      b.rr. M"ny of the movem.rr,'ir,rppo,*15-2pd evensomeof              its vociferousopponents-
                                                                 "there neverwas, in this country a more effectivecampaignorganizationthan
                                                      the \WideAwakes."2
                                                                                                                                               of other
                                                          Youth and militarism distinguishedthe vide Awakesfrom the hundreds
                                                       clufs milling around .rirr.tee.rtli-.entury   American elections'The organizationappealed
                                                                                                   and thirties,attractingambitiousuPstarts        sPort-
                                                       to white -.-r, i1 their teens,twenties,
                                                                                               in the Ph'D',pro^gram at the Universiry of Virginia'
                                                      Jon Grinspan is a graduate student                                                                           with this proj-
                                                          I would like to d,"* ruri"illi'i.'i;i;      c;ty \i1 G'allagher,and MichaeiT. c-aiies for all their help
                                                      -r.l *oufa Aro [k" to th".,-k iJ ii"..,ftd,         P.t.r Kolch]n, and Daniel Feller for their insightful comments'
                                                          Readersmay contact Grinspan ar ion'grinspan@gmail'com'

                                                         r ..The          olga,nil{ion,Theirorigin-and
                                                                lride Awake"'il.                      Proqress," York
                                                                                                               New     Heraa,til,
                                                        t Jrrli,r, Rathbun,
                                                                 C. "Vide        Vid. i*"kes', Tfre            Orgnization 18( 3"*2!};"i'rtu*n,y t
                                                                                                   Great                 of
                                                      tO",.'rs9tl,la5;     Awakes," Chillicothe Gazette' 2' 1860'
                                                                                              Scion      Oct'

                                                                   2009               The lournal ofAmerican History                            357
358                                   The Journal of American History

                                                                                                                                   trfi-s              :sa
                                 "beginning to feel their true power." using popular so-
ing youthful goatees  who were                                                                                                                   r r:Lil
cial events,an erhosoi -*p.,i,i"Jfr"t.riiry      and even promotional comic boola, the                                                            :f   iFT
                                 to political participation and proclaimedthemselves    the
V'ide Awakesi.rtroduceJ;t                                                              'War                                      ry;:cr.-gfr           f:nt
                                                                  as part of the Civil
newfound .,roi.. of yo,rng.t rJ..*. 11to, temembered                                                                                 -](fo
            stirredby the confict, theseyoung men      became  politicallyactivea yearbe-
seneration                                                                                                                   dr tr             t 't'* \fi
                                      militant Vide Awakes   appealed a generatlon
                                                                      to               Pro-
^;ilil;iri." began. structured,
Fore fighting        The
                                                                      northerners                                                    |
                                                                                                                                              -tLa(        !\l

                     uy rrt. p"riir"r,ir,ri"biliry the1850s offered
                                                  of      and     voung
                                                                                                                        fJrg3:;             'r:l'rlf,
much-needed       political identity.3                                                                                               !r'jf       rc d
                                                                     adopt a military motif' Upon                       ;S.
    They were alsothe firrt -"io, campaignorganizationto                                                                 b*:.-'t          r$3tcrsl
                                                            R*"k. "r*y-*o*plete          with ranls'
enlistment membersU.."-.""faiers in"the iVid.                                                                            ilnt\(        .:,ji3i:stni
uniforms, and dudes.The'\tr(/'ide         Awakesdid not intend to incite actual violence'They                                                 :i.rt P
                                                           "militia fever"of the era'-toglorifr ag                        ff":-.-:r
chose    their symbolism ;p;J to the widespread
                             ;                                                                                                  :1.:C-r-1l-n" tfX
                                                                                   uniformiry of the
gr.rrr". p.rrii.a"i "'"i.r signifr the oiganizational"strenBth,and
                                    '$qide                                                                               ic$rr           \(      &lumr
                                           i**k r' .rniloy.n.r,,     ".1"".1    theme helpsshine a
new Republicanparty. The                                          ?f                             this                     Lr.(<n               p.-irtx:l
ii;h,;.h.       ,r*.'r-irir"ti"i.     ry-u.rism for poliiicalends'Morethan anythingelse'                                             th-rt.hrgr
                                                                                           campaign                       rr-rS
study attemprsro examinethe concreteimpact of this                                                                        ilf-  rrrrrtoJ    tlt'
metaphor.a                                                                                                                -:..s e-lr   thrt Po
                                                                         electionof Lincoln sparked
    The militarism of the \ride Awakeshelpsexplainhow the-                                                                 isrtou.'rtgucl
the Civil W'ar.Histori";r i;           long ponderedthe    missinglink bemeen the complexpoli-                                              (
                                                                                                                           :L'( Iltom<tcrt
                                                                              \Var could haveeruPt-
 tics of the  I 850sand ,n. *"r. It is ihcult to believethat the Civil                                                     .]c-(:rt -\mcnc:
                                       hundredsof thousands excited
                                                               of          volunteers-unless polit-
 ed asa popular.orrfli.t-*ith                                                                                              -.i:run'clcrron
 ical debates   *.r. .r^nrtr-.J        i"r. largercultural motivators.The \ride Awakesenabled                              ,{ntlnq €mP'rr
                                                                   militarism for political pu-rposes
 that transformation.The movem..t'ri".rg.rous useof                                                                         :rrFrrc-'
                                                                       terrified southerners' Young
 ,rrrirri..rriorr"tly bled i". fo*.rfol culttr."alagitation that                                                               Strilc             undor
                                                                                message thosed-
 ;;;il;".r,      .qrripp.d *ith'uniforms "rrd to..f,., sent an ominous                                                      r-ril thc drunk-
 readyapprehensive        about the Republicanparryt       antisouthernattitudes' \Vhile certainly
                                   'S7ide                                                                  irsrcd in accor
  not a cause   of the war, the           Awakes pi.r.... ratchetedup.sectional      Pressure
                                                                                                                            :rrrsh r-io,r' oi /
                                                                               how the organization
 vestedLincoln'selectionwith weighty sigrrifi.".t... Understanding                                                          i prooi oi a go
 worked helpsconnectthe political and military carnpaigns' "one   -d.,'ott                                                   i.rbcr reflectior
                                  'ih. future historiani' sho"ld                 of his most glowing
     Though observers                                   "\(ho are these'wide Awakes?"                             cretiond excitt
  chapters"ro rhe movemenr,few historianshave asked,                                                                          Ihcir PaniciP
                                                                            and former'W'ideAwakes
  No scholartr", ,.....t-y of.rJ an appraisal the organization,
                                                                  century ago.Thoseaccountscon-
  pennedthe most in-depth "r"lyr., oi their club ov€r a                                                                       novel organize
                                       but the aurhorsremembered        theiimilitarism through the
  tained valuablerecollections,                                                                                               nllving cries :
                         \fa-r-as" pr.Jioio".of the approaching       c3nfict' Sincethen' the
  prism of the Civil                                                                                                           murmurings c
                                                                                      accountsof the
  Awakeshave appeared liitle more than camiaig.,,classic
                               as                                                                                                 Everv caml
                                                                                    on Lincoln'selec-
   1g60 electionby David Potter,Allan Nevinr, "rrd"RoyNichols. Y"tk                                                            engender mas
                                                                  examines movement'5
  tion may sketch" Wid. Awakeparade,but none truly                                                                             egories.But r
      3 " !0 ide Awakes," Jachson'Veek ll M k siss i an' Sept' 28' 1860'
                                                                                                         were                  rhe chords ot
    a rhis is ,,o, " ,,udy of:i.'iild:K;^;;;i:"iw.':ii"   arii.".i". system ideas
                                                                           of      existed: wide Awakes
                                                p*ryv"tt" J;;;;i;*;"p"m391'     antil3uthern       support
                                                                                           attitudes'     for                   reason to bcll
  Republicans, theyrh"*d;i;t;;"'
                                                                       opposition the Buchanan
                                                                                 to             administration's
  an-increased ofthe federal
               role              governmenr business, angry
                                               in           and
                                             drovethe \7'd;A*"f.,1 sei'E'ic Fo"er' FreeSoil'Free      LabonFree
  corruption.On the Repubii; f;i;ili;                                                                                            Ho*'land''Ory
                                                                Y";k' i97o); \irillia'".E' Gienapp'Theoigin of the               12;andFlordfu
  Therlzohgy of theRepubtic'i';;,ry-btf";;i, Ciuitvyliil                                                   (New York'
  Repubtican ra,ty, tssz-t{i6?N;/*"'1*k;8?''".J        r"ili"a i uJ', n' pAiucal Criskof ihe 1850s                               Iowa Hcriugc lil
                                                                                                                                    6 Glcnn C 'r
  tntt'io,                                                                  ''vide Awakes"';      and B' F Thompson'
            former members'   accounts the vide Awakes, Rathbun,
                                       of                     see
                                                                                                                stud-            nrrt (Princdon'
  .,The                                                N"|,-oi Q"i,i*,'to      (Nov. 1e0e)'293-e6. For recent
        vide Awake "f 186i;: M*;;:;;'t+u.;ri"*it
                    ,                                                                                                            bridge, Mass" 3
                                                              ;;"p-l"t" tit -ot"-t"t       or its context'seeGlenn C'
  iesof localVide Awakeorganizations do not "*;;;
            2009                                     The Vide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                        359

t''ing popularso-                  "future
                             The            historian" hasneverappeared, studiesof the 1860 electionhavetend-
 comic books,the          ed to follow a standardnarrative,detailingLincolnt fight for the Republicannomination,
rd rhemselves  the        his summer of quiet seclusionin Springfield,and his predictablevictory in November.
t ot the Civil'War        Suchaccountsamrm Lincoln'shumble calm in contrastto the terrible chaosthat would
;' active a year be-      consumethe restof his life. Yet if we hope to understand                          or
                                                                                       Lincolnt presidency the com-
) a generationpro-        ing of the Civil \Var,we cannotfast-forwardthrough the 1860 campaign.Lincoln'simage
ung northerners a         playeda major role, but like most other nineteenth-cenrury         presidentialcandidates,   he
                          refusedto canvass.    Instead,four partiesfielded complexcampaignmachinesin a vicious
lirarl motif. Upon        public battle on behalfof their nominees.   Scholars  focused  solelyon the livesof greatmen
lplcre with ranks,        havenot addressed     these important partisanmechanisms cultural forcesin detail.The
ml r iolence. They        visible, distinctive,and extremelypopular \7ide Awakesoffer a glimpseof the neglected
I err. to glorify ag-     machinerythat powerednineteenth-century        American democracy.
 unifbrmiry of the           Ironically, the \fide Awakes appearmost prominendy in Glenn C. Altschuler and
                                                                                                                "the 'fit'
cmc helpsshine a          Stuart M. Blumin's RudeRepublic.      That controversial   work attemptsto reassess
rnrthing else,this        betweenpolitical culture and culture more generally''in nineteenth-cenury America by
rrticial campaign         arguingthat historianshaveexaggerated sizeof the public sphere.
                                                                     the                            Altschulerand Blu-
                          min asserted    that the private spherewas a significantand growing refugeof the middle
f l.incoln sparked        class and rhat political participation waslessmeaningful than previouslyimagined.Rude
the complex poli-         Republicarguesthat the activitiesof the \fide Awakesand similar political clubs were
could have erupt-         not baromerers popular interest,but spectacles
                                             of                                engineered a handful of partisans
                                                                                             by                        to
cr.-unless polit-         deceive  Americanvorers.Richard Franklin Bensel's       recentwork on voting in nineteenth-
e.{rvakesenabled          century elections,The     AmericanBallot Box in theMid-nineteenthCentury,concurs,high-
poliricalpurposes         lighting campaigners' of alcohol and violenceto coercesheepJike
                                                    use                                              Americansto par-
uthcrners.Young           ticipate.6
ss;lqero those al-           Vhile undoubtedly partisan,the \7ide Awakesdid not merely prey on the ignorant
I \\-hile certainly       and the drunk. Insteadrhe movementdemonstrates presence a middle ground ne-
                                                                                   the           of
I prcssure and in-        glectedin accounts nineteenth-century
                                                 of                    political culture, lying somewhere  betweenthe
'rhc organization         harshview of RudzRepublicand the optimism of thosewho seehigh voter turnouts as
                          a proof of a golden ageof informed democracy.       Not won over by inebriatedcoercionor
his most glowing          soberreflection,young men, mesmerizrdby the \fide Awakes'maftial metaphors,gen-
I \\'ide Awakes?"         erationalexciremenr,      and intensecompedtion, joined for organic yet symbolic reasons.
ner Wide Awakes           Their participariongrew from locd roots, without the artificial imposition of elite party
Ee ;lccounts con-         organizers. time theseyoung acrivistspushedskepticd older politicians to acceptthe
rism through the          novel organiz^tion.No club could havebeenso popular with political novicesunlessits
e rhen, the               rallying cries spoke to their existing concerns.The \7ide Awakes'hoopla amplified the
; accounts of the         murmuringsof a generation.
ln l.incoln's elec-          Every campaignclub must try to foster competidon, employ appealingsymbols,and
yenrent.5                                                      '$7ide
                          engendermassparticipation. The             Awakessurpassed                    in
                                                                                           expectations all three cat-
                          egories.But the movemenr        may have been more effectivethan it neededto be, striking
lc \\'ide Awakes were     the chordsof competition, symbolism,and participation too loudly. Observers          had little
Irrr:udes, support for
                          reason believethat the stirring of the \7ide Awakegeneration
                                  to                                                            would end in November
rn:r, administrationt
hrt /,abor, Free Men:
pp the Oigins of the      Howland,               Organize! The Lincoln Wide-Awakes in Vermont," Vermont Hisnry 48 ('Winter 1980), 28-
           (NewYork,                                                  "'The
Jx 1850s                  32; and Floyd funhart and Marion Rinhart,         PrairiesA-Blaze': Iowa !?ide-Awakes Carry Torches for Lincoln,"
                          Iowa Heriage lllustrated, 77 (Spring 1996), 4346.
n,j B. F. Thompson,           6 Glenn C. Altschuler and Stuart M. Blumin, Rude Republic:Americansand Their Politics in the Nineteenth Cen-
l-9('. For recent stud-   wry (Princeron,2000), 5; fuchard Franklin Bensel, TheAmerican Ballot Box in the Mid-nineteenth Cmnry (Cam-
Dnr.rt. seeGlenn C.       bridge, Mass., 2004), 217 -8r.

     360                                             The Journal of American History                                                     2009

     or that their militarism wasnot reallypreparationfor violence.The'$7ideAwakescrossed                                                                           A form letter d
     the line separating temporarycampaignclub and a permanentnational movement,un-
                          a                                                                                                                                      rvork, boasting tt
     dermining establiihedpoli,i."l pro.irro. One of the founderslaterwrote that his friends                                                                     the Vide Ar*'alie
     "builded                                                                                                                                                    mol'ement flouri!
     , th"r, they knew," by creatingtoo powerful a machine.T the movement
     took on a life of its own, the       Awakes' blazingtorchesinadvertentlycastlight on the                                                                    pcred. In the No
     powerful forcesthat would tear aPartthe nation.                                                                                                             iarger percentagc
                                                                                                                                                                 L)emocratic cand
     "'Wherever the Fight Is Hottest"                                                                                                                            around Albanr'. )
                                                                                                                                                                 licans in or adiac
                                              "wide                                                                                                              o[ partisancomP
     Historicalneglectobscures how   just            awake"Americawas in 1860.Active in over
     half the natiJn and anxiouslyscrutinizedin the rest, the movementpenetrated               deep                                                               tight is honest.- l
     into society.So many young men donned shiny \fide Awake             uniforms that tailors ex-                                                                it abundantlv cl<
     perienced,hor,"g., of ih. e.ra-.led cloth usedto make them. Milwaukee oysterhouses                                                                           orr'n districts.'
     off..ed the \fide*Awakesspecialplattersof half shells,and a druggist in Maine marketed                                                                           Local politica
     Dr. Allenk Balsamic      Cough Lorenges cure members the hoarseness
                                                to                of               broughto-nby                                                                   movement. Thc
     too much shouting      at miJnight raliies.EvenpartisanoPPonents      copiedthe nequ!!!1a.n                                                                  and the Democ
     movemenr,      formirig the DouglasInvisibles,   Bell-Ringers, and-to anesthetize \(ide
                                                                                         the                                                                       ture." Somevout
     Awakes-the Chloioform.rr. All werebased           on the'$7ideAwakes:a political imagethat                                                                    cloth capesto P
     sweprthrough northern society,from huge rallies to Maine drugstoresand Wisconsin                                                                              ers rhrough the
     oysterhouses.s                                                                                                                                                cramped headqt
          By earlyfall, many believedthe Republicans     boastedover half a million'V7ide Awake                                                                    voung Hanfordi
     "soldiers."   That number is probablytoo high, though the popular perception more     is                                                                      dred votes,obrt
     significant than the    real sizeof the movement.Certainly their parades    attractedrecord                                                                    militaristic morr
     .t"o*dr. The coordinatedralliesin New'Wide Philadelphia,        Chicago,Cleveland,and Bos-                                                                     mind.'r
     ton in earlyOctoberdrewover70,000                Awakes  and 150,000spectators' is impos-
                                                                                      It                                                                               Connecticut
     sible to .i..rl"t. how many actually     joined the movement-we haveonly scattered         club                                                                ment during thr
     rosrers   and newspaper   esrimates unreliable-but the real total
                                          are                              wasprobably closerto                                                                   [)emocratic Pa
      100,000.That numberwould be the equivalent about 1 million \fide Awakes the
                                                           of                                 in                                                                  northern Demo
     currentpopulationof the United States.e                                                                                                                      berween rhe sot
          \fhil; tfie .rumbers vague, caneasilytrack the regiond distribution of the move-
                               are        we                                                                                                                      Iohn Bell. Nonr
      ment. The srrongesr    region wasalsothe first: centralConnecticutgavebirth to the move-                                                                    rhev usuallr' rcli
      ment and enlistJ t.ttr of tho,rrandsof activeyoung members. band of clubsstretching
                                                                        A                                                                                         carlv Juh' the R
      from central Illinois to southern   \Visconsinis next; it containedabout two hundred and                                                                    n' might'ncglc
      fifty companies,   with forry-eight separate organizations Chicagoalone.Partsof central
                                                                 in                                                                                               knew that the F
      New York, sourhernNewJersey,        and southernMaine alsohousedmany activeand vocal                                                                         placencv mighr
      clubs.Surprisingly,   sometraditional Republicanbastions-Massachusens,        Vermont, and
      Michigan-had       fewer,quieter,and duller companies.lo                                                                                                     ;rll     Vhig ""f C-
                                                                                                                                                                            Hcnn         rg
          7 Rathbun, "'Vide Awakes,"' 335.                                                                                                                         inprints lConncct
          ' ;Th. Cor, of Equipping Vide-Awakes,- Phihdzlphia Inq^airen-Nov. 14, 1860, p' 3;                      Nelslteml"                                        ! Fehrenbechcr )
                                                   "Medicinalj'.classified                                                                                                   ",1: Ve.kcr I
     Miluaarhce Daib Scn;in;t: OZr.     24, 1860;                          advertisement, Bangor Daily Vhig and Courier                                             l'r-9).
                                                                                                                                                                          : During thc t
     Seor. 14. I 860r'"Politicd Intellisence,"New YorkHeraA, Aug. I 8' 1860' p' l '
     - ';                                                      "Vidi                                'The                                                                  -Rcpublion \t
                                                                       Awakes of 1860," 295; nd           \flide Awakes,"Aus-                                      rcr
            O. the number of Vide ,{wakes, seeThompson,
                                                                                                                                                                   q5 e common caP
     tin  TbxasState Gazene, Oct. 27 , 1860, p. l. For esiimatesof the size of the October rallies, seely'earYorhHerald' Oct'
     4, 1860; Neu Yorh Times, Oct'. 2,1860; Tinton State Gazene,Oct. 5, 1860; Daifi ClzuelandHeraA, Oct. 3' 1860;                                                   :lrlsts and I mltx)t
     - - , d O n C h i c i g oAdaertiser,Oct.u8,s1860. T h e R e - p u b l i c a n s . i n C g u n g i l , " C b i c a g o T i i b u n e , O c t . 3 ,
     and BostonDaily V i d e A w a k e c l b , s e e "                                                                                                              r:ts and hed m:rd
                                                                                                                                                   1860'OnWide      :h:t made thc \I d
     Awake     clubs near Democratic strongholds, s.., fo. .*ample,                              Late Custom-.House Changes-The Albany                              ;<ncc oi thc \\'rdc '
     ,Xrid.-e*"k r," Neu Yorh Timu, July"ZA, 1860; "Demonstiation of the Vide Awakes in Albany," ibid.' Sept. 12,                                                   \\est.6a4vr llii*
                                                                                                                     "Maine                                          -..lrl'a.\'arf l\o    I
      1860; Ti,entonState Gazene,R"g. S, tSeO, p.2; ibid., Sept. 7' 1860, P. 3; and                                                and Localkems," Bangor
                2009                                              The'S(ide Awakesand Lincoln's 1860 Campaign                                          361 .\wakes crossed                    A form letter distributed nationwide by the Hartford club explains this strange patch-
Dn.r]movement, un-                    work, boasting thar              the fight is hottest, there is their post of dury and there
nore that his friends                 the \(ide Awakes are found." Organized for political combat with partisan rivals, the
:-- -{. the movement                  movemenr flourished in the corners of the North where the Democratic party sdll pros-
!tlr. ;ast light on the               pered. In the November election, the southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge wol a
                                      i"rg.. p.r..ntage of the vore in Connecticut than in any other.northern state. The other
                                      Democratic .".tdid"t., Stephen Douglas, won chunks of northern New Jersey,the area
                                      around Albany, New York, and almost all of ultra-Democratic downstate lllinois. Repub-
                                      licans in or adjacent to these strongholds formed \fide Awake companies out of a sense
l8(.(t.Active in over                 of partisan competition, relying on the organizationt symbolic militarism                the
Dr pen61r",.d deep                    fight is hotrest." In pamphlets, banners,editorials, and speeches,    the Wide Awakes made
rnr\ rhat tailors ex-                 it-abundantly clear that they were primarily interested in defeating Democrats in their
lukee oysterhouses                    own districts.rr
 in \laine marketed                      Local political combat in Connecticut's spring gubernatorial election gave rise to the
ncs' brought on by                    11rorr.-..r.. The closely watched contest between the Republican'W'illiam Buckingham
ie.l the Republican                   and the Democrat Thomas Seymour was considered              Presidential election in minia-
[e\thetize the Vide                   rure." Some young textile clerks and rife makers organized a bodyguard, clad in enameled
polirical image that                  cloth capes io p.or.., their clothes from leaky oil torches, to escort Republican speak-
trcs and Wisconsin                    ers through the dangerous srreets of Democratic Hartford. Soon the new organization's
                                      cramped headquarters in the long narrow room above a drugstore teemed with excited
lillion N?'ide  Awake                 yo, Hartfordites. tVhen the Republicans won the governort race by less than -sixhun-
p-rception is more                    dred iotes, observerscredited these         Awakes." Young Republicans chose to form the
les attracted record                  militaristic movement with local party   competition-not    pressurefrom their leaders-in
llc.'cland, and Bos-                  mind.r2
rrrrors. It is impos-                    Connecticutt'S7ide Awakes offered the nation some much-needed political excite-
 onlv scatteredclub                   ment during the confused beginning of the presidential campaign. The recent rift in the
r probably closer to                  Democratic party created rwo essentially separate sectional contests: one berween the
['idc Awakes in the                   norrhern De-o.i"t    Stephen Douglas and the Republican Abraham Lincoln and another
                                      between the southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge and the Constitutional Unionist
                                                                                                                   southern base
burionof the move-                    John Bell. Northern Democrars were deeply vulnerable without the strong
: birrh to the move-                  they usually relied on, but Republicans sdll feared low turnouts and political malaise. In
I of clubs stretching                 eariyJuly tire Republican mastermind Thurlow'Weed worried that his overconfident par- 'Weed
n n*o hundred and                     ty mighi           the systematic organization which is essential" to secure victory.
Dnc.Partsofcentral                    kne*ihat thi Republicans could nor expect Lincolnt easyelection; perhaps general com-
n! active and vocal                   placency might dispropordonarely harm their newer parry particularly in the conserva-
prtt. Vermont, and
                                      Daily \Vhig and Courien Oct. 22, 1860.
                                           fi H.iryT.           "Republican
                                                         Sperry               Wide-Awakes of Hartford," printed form letrer, 1860-1861, Connecticut
 '                                    Imprints (Ctttneciicui Historical Sociery Hartford); David M' Potter, 7h9 Inprydtng Crbis' 1848-1861' ed' Don
  \lrlriple News Items,"              E. hehrenLacher (New York, 1976),439; Congressional Quarterly, Presidzntial El.ections       since 1789 (Washington,
Dt:,; \Y/higand Courier                1979),73;Valter Dean Burnham, hesidentialhallots, 1836-1892 (Baltimore, 1955)'24647'
                                           't Duiing the gubernatorial race an article declared that Connecticutt Republijans were finally"widg awa\e-
                                           "Republilcan                                                                                       "\?ide
Th. \\'ide Awakes,"lru-               See                Siate Convention," Hartford Daily Coarant, l"\.29,     1860, t 2.Jhe name stuck.             awake"
t.\,ru YorkHeraA,Oct.                 *", ".o--or      expressionin rhe era. In the mid-lti50s it referred to both a-sryle-offo^ppy white hat favored by na-
v ilaU, Oct. 3, 1860;                 tivists and a minoi tS56 Republican campaign organization. Though some foundersof the Hartford club wore such
                                      hats and had marched for John C. Fr6mtntl thelarlier incarnations lacked the militarism, populariry.and youth
, ( t . r . 1 .1 8 6 0 .O n W i d e   that made the Vide Awakes of 1860 a distinct and novel movement. On the Connecticut election and the emer-
I ( h:nges-The Albany                 sence of rhe \J(/ideAwakes, seeAllan Nevins, TheEmergence Lincoln (2 vols., New York' 1950)' ll, 236;
                                                                                                    of                                             fuchard S.
Ait':nr," ibid., Sept. 12,            fuesr, Gidzon lqelles:Lincoln\ Nary Department (New York, f943), AZ; J"hn Niven, Gidton lYelbs:Lincoln'sScretary
1i i trcal hems," Bangor              of the Nary (New York, 197il,2ri7; ".td R"thb,rtt,           Awakes,"' 329.
362                               The Iournal ofAmerican History

                                                                                                                     \crr I
                                                      late.summer and fall was hardly
tive lower North. The excitedpopular campaignof the                                                                  : iacto
inevirable.Insteady.";;R;,ibli."r,    through'outthe North borrowedthe \ride Awake
                                                                                                                     :hc m
model from Conne..i.ri    heipi.rgproduceso=me the highestturnouts in American
                                               of                                                                    \srt
tory in the process.r3                                                                                               : irosc

The Network                                                                                                          .ritOd
                                                                                                                     cr'al e
                                                          election environment,   the'wide Awakes
Primedby success connecticut and the tense
                         in                                                    "a                                    :1r Cnl
                                                                                   spontaneous    out-
exoloded    across nation.One memberlatercalledthe movement
                     the                                                                                             : :iil
                           iro- oo. end of the North "spontaneous. that
                                                          to the other," but        was merelv nos-
#;;;f-;;;il                                                                                                          . crsic
                          Awakesexpanded, a                 outburst,"but through a
t"igi".* fh.'lfii.                                                                                                   'a l-s :

deliberate   and fascinating       netwo.k. Travelingalong a conduit of new communications                            e-;rr ;
technologies benefitiig from existingro.ial stt,.tctures,
                and                                                                                                   ":.m(
                                                       complexextension    doesmore than demon-
,"ri".J,fi.""gho.r, ,h. No?th. The rapid"and                                                                           'r 'ri

strarerhe particularsoirh. *o.v.-ent: it allows ,rs           to tra.k how an idea spreadthrough                      !r $m
                                                                                        a city's water
an increasingty      irrt.r.ontected society'Iikc a coloreddy5 intloduled into                                        .rrml
                                      of the \7ide Awake network highlighted        key mechanisms
*OtO ,n. H,ria extension                                                                                              iri             r
along the way.
-                                                                                                                     : , (rL!

                                    nationalconventionin Chicagosparked         theexplosionof the
     iriruf"y the Republican                                                                                             R
                                                                    tomplexities of Lincoln'snomi-
 -ou.-.rr,. fhouifr oi.r in discussions the        of                                                       ::::d
                                                                              Chicago\y'ide Awakes
 narion, the triumph"", ."t.fti, parades the recentlyorganted
                                                  of                                                                  : it)l
                                                               new move.ment'    Returning from the
 introduced,horrr"r,d, oin p.,Uti.""r to the exciting                                                                 ::.c I
                                                                     Alake companies f1a{i;o1'
 convention,young partir"r,, immediatelyorgani"eityide                                                                 :i.t
               columbus and cleveland, ortioi Newark, New Jersep               Brooklyn, New York;                     -,a.1
                                                                    throughout the North, surging
 "rrJ n"rgo, Maine. The network beganto_mushroom                                                                       -Ji:rl
 across   urban cenrers      J."ir.g.      c"mp" movementreached countryside.less
                                                       The                       the
 q"*ny, and by midsummer              ulban Vide  Aw*:.b:gii      callingo1{llow partisans their
                                                                                                                        - L' !.l':

                                                       Philadelphia   launchedits first company,    in
  hinterlandsto form their own companies.
                                                                                        \ride Awakes
  May, but centrallt n"rytu"ni"n, *.r. still orSanizingclubs,in          1id-Aususl.                                    ia-n
                                                                           Vermont from Connecti-
  "f1."r.a in distantS"ri Fr" monthsbJfot. they reached                                                           ':a:
                                                                    not provide the competicionon
  .'"1. S"fiafy Republicanparts of the rural North could
                                                                            only in the final months
  which the \fide R*J.r'.h.irred and hencejoined the network                                                            :-,grl
  of the campaign.tu
                                                          Wide Awakesto the explo^sive      popularity
      Co-p"rirrithe sluggishness the V_e1m9nt
                                          of                                                                             i a
                                            New Hampshire     highlights the         of partisancom-
  of the movem..rt i., .r"."ighboring                                        ,power                                      :-'
  oetition. New Hampshirehad ioted Democraticin euerypresidential
  fiil;i      i;;,;ilti.        Vermont had neversupported       a Democrat for president'In 1860

    13 Thurlow.$(eed,,.The Revolution of Parties,"NewYorh Herald, July9' 1860.
    ta Thompson, "$?ide Awakes of 1860"' 295'                                               "Lighting
                                                                                                      the Fires in
     rr on the prour.r",io' o?..irb*'Vtd.     e*"k "l,rb. after the chlcagg corvention, see                               \.t_rl
                                                                                              Mav 30' 1860' p' 3;
 Visconsin." Chieago Tribuni,'J;;;,    i{ieo;;Th. 'Vide Awaka," Coluibus Ohio Satesman'                                     ':        I
 ..The                                                       :;Vid.                     Gazcne'
                                                                             Tienton "Local June
                                                                     .q* akes;'                        4' I 860'p'
       Vide Awak ooirytlri:ir;'i;;i;,
                  ,r;'                        rti{-z r , t a6o;                                                           ;:I
                                                                                    and       andMaine   Items,"
    ..Republican o.g""io,ioi"ror?,. tiriutira.,': nr-t6" boti.i"*,June 1, 1860;                    Williams'and
                           Cr)ri- i"i ZS, tS60.On tt ! Via.'e*&. co^panies       organized Yale'
 Bangor  DailltVhigand.                        p".[ r',,1 ii, ieeo,t""tit oiTiacv"Peck   (Connecticut Historicd             '[r
 Dartmouth    colleges, t;;;;k
                       ,..           {o1.}"r'            irrn
          phihdztphia -#hiiil"i,fu";"iii"t"                 Gii*''June 2, 1860; md'LowellDaiQCitinn andNews'
 Sociery);              tt                                                                                                  i +

 t'o\z'                                            "Vide Awa sanFtancheo        Bulletin,Aug'1' I 860;Howland'

        bi:ffi*rburgvalle\ Spirir,  Sept. 1860;
                                        15,                      kes"
  "Organize! Organizel"
         :cptember                                               The \Wide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                         363

r anJ t-all
          washardly                    \.r. Hampshire's bitterly anti-Republican newspapersand Democratic rock throwers at-
re.i the Wide Awake                    ::ecred the competition-driven \7ide Awake network, pushing potential members toward
rrr. in Americanhis-                   :ie movement well before Vermont's confident Republicans felt moved to organize. One
                                       \er+' Hampshire youth a few months shy of voting age joined the'W'ide Awakes to spite
                                       rhoseDemtcr",, h. knew would bar him from the vodng window in November.rT
                                           The'Wide Awake nerwork also benefited from its social appeal. Each company con-
                                       .isred of about one hundred young men who' joined by strong fraternal bonds, met sev-
It. rhe VideAwakes                     cral evenings each week in their storefront clubhouses. The diary of Jeremiah'Wilcox-a
    .pontaneousout-                    .r.nry-y."i-old     carriage maker in Connecticut-depicts the camaraderie that helped at-
                                       ,r..r     \Wilcox, who usually spent his leisure time fishing, added               pro-
hlr .*.asmerely nos-
lr.r. but through a                    .cssion nice evening had a very fine time" to his usual diary late spring' Soon he
g\ t r)rTlftruoications                $.asarrending Wid; Awake rneetings regularly and fishing less. The movementt parades
I'sir,novationmetas-                   .rlso allowedi"""g men to court the -".y yo,rttg women who turned out to view the
                                       ,lemonstrations.Ai o.r. diarist in Ohio noted,             ladies,blessthem, stayedand cheered,
J nt()rcthan demon-
                                       us with their presencetill we were through, and         they were as good looking a company of
id..r spreadthrough
d into a city's water                  \\.omen as on; will see." Some \7ide Awake captains even used friendly rivalries between
cd kcv mechanisms                      .ompanies ro morivate their members. Despite all the fraternal bonds, female attention
                                       and intra-\fl'ide Awake comperition, however, the lfide Awakes maintained a martial se-
thc crplosion of the                   riousness   that distinguishedthem from the rowdy political clubs of_theera.18
s rrt'l-incolnt nomi-                      Powered by its pJitical, generational, and social appeal, the \7ide Awake network ex-
ilc.ieo Wide Awakes                    tended via thi gro*ittg sysr; of partisan newspapers. the previous decadethe nations
                                       publications hid ao"6l.d to olr.ifo,r. thousand,          and the expansivemovement relied on
  Rcrurning from the
nprnies in Madison,                    ,h. b,rrg.oning medium. Wide Awake clubs carefully courted favorable pressesand at-
ho,'klvn, New York;                    racked f,ostile o.r.s. In Chicago and tenton, they steeredtorchlight marches past the
  rhc North, surging                   headquarters Republica.t p"p.rr to cheer their favorite editors, while a Columbus com-
 rhc countryside less                  p"nyiu.l.d
                                       'States*an.'W'ith                  ipithets" at the offices of the Democraric Columbus Ohio
grv partisans their                                         grave seriousness,     one Democratic paper accused the Madison, Wis-
                                       consin, Wide Awakes of        stealing its editort hat. More important, the \fide Awakes com-
its tirst company in
usrist. Wide Awakes                     municated with their membersihrough friendly publications. Republican paPersprinted
onr tiom Connecti-                     announcementsof paradesand meetings, and editorials calling for more companiesto be
the competition on                     created resulted in ihe formation of new chapters within days of publication' An active
                                                                                                                    \Wide Awakes trav-
 in rhe final months                   and popular newspaper culture provided the highway on which the
                                       eled.'Without it the organization would have spreadneither so quickly nor so
rrplosive populariry                       Though political .rorri..r, the original Hartford'S7ide Awakes helped build the nation-
rcr .ri partisan com-                   al nerwo"rk.^Asyoung Republicans caught wind of the growing movement' they wrote
id clection between                     to Hartford asklng f"t "d"i.. on forming their own chapters. In response to this deluge
r p r c s i d e n tI.n 1 8 6 0              17Thompson,     "Wide Awakes 1860"'293.
                                               J.remiahA. lfilcox Diary April l, i SeO  (Connecticut                    OscarLawrence
                                                                                                      HistoricalSociety);               Jackson, Col'
                                       onehbiary Journals     Keptbeforianiduringthe CiuilIVar ed.David PrenticeJaclson    (Sharon, 1922)'32. ^Foryoung
                                       womens     participarion parades rp..,r",o.r,refreshment
                                                                in         *                        servers, marchers
                                                                                                            or         representing'
6       I iqhting the Fires in                                                                                    (Balrimore,       Thediaryof William
                                       il;;p     f;";.  fioirn ir'Public,Beieen Banners Balhts.1825-1880
                                                                                           and                                1992).
l r r \ l a v 3 0 , 1 8 6 0 ,p . 3 ;                                                                                         toward Vide Awake   demon-
                                       H. S'.*";iai;"rf..n-y""r-old daughter     provides insightinro youngwomen's   artitude
7 ( i;::ttc, June 4, 1860, p.                          patriciab. Johnson,  sStu-iing for Linioln in 1b60'Excerpts from the Diary ofFanny Seward,"   Sept.
'l..,                                  ,t."rionr. See
      -:l and Maine Items,"
                                       1,3, 8, Oct. l, 1860,uiiuersiry Rotheiter-Library
                                         ' -iu                            of                 Bulletin, (Autumn1960)'
                                                                                                      l6                                             "The
:c :: \ale, Villiams, and
                                               iM"rk g. N eely, Bo,uidiries
                                                                Ihe            ofAmeriun iolitical Culturein theCiuilWarEra (Chapel  Hill' 2005), 1;
I ( ( in necricut Historical                                                              "Wide Awakes,"Trenton   StateGazette,          1860; "Swearing
I !);'lr Citizen and Neuts,            vid. a*"i..rj' ChiiagoTiibune,June'l. 1860r                                              July_l8,
                                                                                                  "Local Editor,"MadisonViscols,ilplily Pa.ttiot'
                                       Republicans,"    ColumFus   OhioStaiesman,  Aug.24, i 860;                                                pc.t. I 0t,
                                               "The La Crosse                                                                      "Ciry Matters' Louell
                                       tSbO;                     Wide-Awakes-A Suciess,"    Milwauhee                Aug. I, 1860;
                                                                                                       Daily Sentinel,
Au!    I I, 1860; Howland,
                                       Daily Citizenand News,     Aug. 7, 1860.
364                                  The Journal of American History

                                                                 circularsdetailingits history
of over rwo thousandletters,the original club distributed
                                                              of the club uniform' JamesS'
consrirurion,and srructureand even sent out samples
Chalker-a r*.r,ry-.igir-year-old founding -.-b.i           and textile salesman-sold at least
                                                                        Henry T' Sperry-an-
;&         thousandWia". ,q*"kt uniforms during the campaign'2'
                                                editori-pennedhundreds informational
                                                                          of               cir-
otherfounderand an ".ii.i"g newspaper
;;^,       p;;otional, ""rrdr.rpporriveeditoriis. The rwenry-three-year-old
publiciry campaignpropelledhirn io nationalprominence.             Though too young to have
                                                                                 network that
:;;;:i;;'l         piirri*,tal election,Sperrydirectedthe dynamic national
                                                                                      no indi-
formed thousands       of \wide Awakeclubs.Aside from a handful of party insiders'
vidual did more to organize         Lincoln's1860campaign'2t
     The toolsth"t   b,rilt'tlr. 1{/id. A*"k machine-p-artisancompetition, social
                                                                   by nefariousbosses' Though
 litical newspapers, youthful activism-w.r. ," fgrge^d
                       and                                                       'spontaneous
 the deliberat..orrr,r,r.'rionof the networkchallenges      the facileimageof.a
                                              of Republicans'the individuals who assembled    tt
 o,.riU.,.rr"by an undifferentiatedmass
                                                                                                          The Vide Awake
     20 Uniforms cost about $2, so JamesS. Chalker may have grossed$40'000 on-1h1^movement'
                                             ", t."r, " q;";;;F;;illio"        io["^ if 100,000 members purchased $2
 movemenr generated h"g".r;;,     ;;;b"Uiy                                                         (coal oil or turpentine)
 uniforms and $.75 tor.hes. The irti-"t.    does not i;clue; ;he cost of the expensive fuel
                                                           remain silent   on those expe.ll.'s, though Democrats accused
 burnt in the movement's torches. $?ide Awake sources                                  "The Wide-Awakes"' Middletown
                                                              iilJinj   tt" -o"t-t"i'
 Republican office seekersand state legislattrresof r."r.,ty
 Co'nstitution,Oct. 10' 1860.                                                                             organized March
     2r Rathbun, ,,..wide Awakes,,,,331; Henry T. sperry, TheRepublican widz-Awahesof Hartford,
 3, 1860(Hartford, 1860), pamphlet, Connecticut
            September                                      The'Wide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                 365

ol .1(nronstrailons        ln
tr.: *cek of October                  This 1860 photograph of rhe founding \fide Awake club in Hartford, Connecticut, showsthe
                                      p"r"-if ioiy rh.fi1.'of ,h. organizatio"n.Henry Spery, the twenty-three-year-old    publicist for
t n ; r ',,,rh o n M a n h a t -
        :irr''                                                                                                                    who
                                      the movement nationwide, stlnds     o1 the far leh, ind JamesS. Chalker, a textile salesman
2r.            Tribune and
E: r'::,tgof Octoberj,                marketed Wide Awake uniforms, stands third from ihe right in the back row. Reprintedfrom
                                                           "'The rVide
                                      Julius G. Rathbun,               Awahe|: The Great Political Organization of 1860"'Connecticut
                                      Quarterly,  I (Oct. 1895).
n Jcrailing its history,
llh uniform. James S.               were rarely members of established elites. The young men who directed the movement,
alc.rnan-sold            at least   such as Henry Sperry, had little or no Previous campaign exPerience or Paffy sranding.
Hcrrn'T. Sperry-an-        below in the form of thousands unsolicited
                                                                                       of                  helpedpush
ls ,'f informational cir-           them into action,and the movement's  immense  socialappealto young men and women
th rcc-vear-oldSperry's             demonstrates easy betweenthe political club and contemporaryculture' Caught be-
                                                 an      fit
gh roo young to have                rweenthe high-pressure   sysremimaginedby Altschulerand Blumin and the low-pressure
                                            "ouiburst" recalledby nostalgicformer members,the \7ide Awake storm swept
 n.rrronal network that             popular
parrvinsiders, indi-
                no                  Americain the tumultuoussummerof 1860.

irion. socialbonds,po-              The'Wide Awake Generation
hri,'r:s bosses.
          "spontaneous                                                      candidate'WilliamH. Sewardtraveled the Mid-
lagc of a                           In August 1860former presidential
lual. .vho assembledit              wesr  t; srump for Abraham Lincoln, the very man who had defeatedhis campaign for
                                    the Republicannomination. In new hamletsand budding citiesfrom Michigan 1o K,an-
                                    ,"r, t,r-.tlt1rous throngs of       AwakesgreetedSeward's   entourage with parades,-fire-
m. ..nre nt. The \fide Awake                                                                                         '$fide
lsfr,r, nremberspurchased$2         works, and banquetr.-S.*"rd noticed more        than just the stunning number of
 ii:. -oal oil or turpentine)
L :::.,ugh Democratsaccused
                                    Awakeswho packedprairie arenas hearhim speak;in their young faceshe recognized
3 \r :,1c.{wakes,"Middl.etown       a grand generadonal     stirring.             companies converged Detroit to receive
                                    hiil-a.""lly to largethat'rJ?ide   Awakes  madeup 10 percent the city'stotal population
4 il;,:tord, OrganizedMarch                                         "The reason didn't get an honestPresident 1856,was
                                                                                we                             in
                                    that day-Sewardleclared,

    366                              The Tournalof American History

                                                                                                                            ous elective franchise'-
                                                                                                                            ticipation in generalan<
                                                                                                                                How Young were tnc
                                                                                                                            ciry with \ilide J
                                                                                                                            ic clues.The rosterssho
                                                                                                                             and forry Yearsold' and
                                                                                                                             last presidentid elecrio
                                                                                                                             More imPortant' an an
                                                                                                                             were betweenfoq'an<
                                                                                                                              Awake. On the tickets
                                                                                                                              the maioriry of Clsvel:
                                                                                                                              casttheir Youth, electi
                                                                                                                             the movement'r'
                                                                                                                                Those Young men I
                                                                                                                             traditional camPaign I
                                                                                                                             vouthful exuberance'
                                                                                                                              prominent leaders'erl
                                                                                                                              u".v, br'tt manY Politir
                                                                                                                              "ni th. glow of torch
                                                                                                                              out in their nightshir
                                                                                                                              Vide AwakesPut on t
                                                                                                                              lenge the image oican
            A young  Iowan.'wide f"u,iif T ^1':ff'Si:i,f"o;:5':::?.ff#t\:Tl:
                                 A*"k';                                       res nt)'nd
                                                                          vice ide a                                           oo[,i.i"ttt would hav
            l"ffiil1.'.'ffi #;"i il:fiir;; ;].,ii;il ri";;il;iE ; ; Iin(ror p
                                                               expressionrefectsthe dire' militaris-                             Established P"rr.r'
            Samuel Curtis (fo, .ot'ft""-^"n)' His stern
                                                                    therwideAwakeranks'Reprjyte/                              non-elite roots' Thot
             tic seriousness often..Ff"*J.l<"U.r"nt hooplai.,
                    ,,,TheprairiesA-Bk;;;";;;'w;ii-,q*opti     carry Torches Lincoln,"lowa Heri-
                                                                            for                                               sociery wage laborer
                   Illustrate 77 ,priig ii6el' ii"tty      itoya oia Marioi Rinhart Collection'The
            iase            d,                                                                                                plained about the ab
             Ohio Stat, IJniuersity Libraries'
                                                                                                                              ihey claimed were m
     because old men of the lastgeneration
               the                                  werenot'wide-Awake,and the young men of                                   Ohio and Connecti
     this generatio.,  h"d't go;;;?;.;:p..,.         No* the old men are folding their arms and                               \Wide Awakes, in adr
                                                                      \wide Awake."Sewardwas
     ;;;;i;.p,        "r,d the-youngmen throughoutthe land are                                                                 railroad ticket agent
                                                            or in heraldingthe political riseof a                              corporated some bat
     not alonein noting,n.'"g.^Jf -ost Wide"Awakes                                         againand
     generarion. Vide Aw?kes'
                   The                  youth wascommented by friendsand foes
                                                                on                                                             such as Charles Fran
                                                          of the movement    and perhaps     explains                          and were frequendv
     againthroughout 1860.k identifies essencethe
                                                        Republicans'  primary new suPPortcame
      Villiam E. Gienapp"rgrr.j ihat in 1860_the                                       in earlierelec-
                                                                                                                                    23 Villiam E. Gien:fl
                                                     \West-too youngto-P^articiPate-
      from first-tim. ,no,.rr:?;;,t."f*ff i" the        "fresh"ttd yotttlif"l spirit"'.unlike the di-                           lohn L. Thomas
                                                                                                                                     2a The average agc ot
      tions.The ,i*-y.".-otJ {Ji;;lt;;      p"tt had a                               "the importance
                                                                  suggested   that                                              eral Cleveland wards urth
      "ra.a *a    ,,rppor.dly *,l,,ft ot-ocrats' GienapP+"                                                                      "Wide-Awakes," ibid" \l

      of the1fide-Aw"k , i";;;;;thening        the Republica' Parry"rrrottgyoungervoters.should                                  aee age of candidates on
                                                          Couier"gtttd;.i" t860 it described      the                            "h..oitbli."n Ciw Ticka'
      not be overlooked."   n--ffir-OrityWlrig'ora                                                                                            SePt. Il' 186
                       "r..pprrr-g*..i. ri,nJ,rr".ti, to the exercis.fot tht first time' of the glori-                           Staiesman'
      movement", "                                                                                                              .heritagequestonline'co
                                                                                                                                    " tharles Sumner' J

                                                                                             "Political Miscellany"' Naa;       ernor Seward on the \('rl
         22 ..Senator sewardt Reception at Detroit," Dail| ctnelznd Herald' sepr' 5'                                             Schlu:z, The Rcminisawl
      Yorh Tirner SePt. 4' I 860'
Scnicmber                                               The'S7ideAwakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                           367

                             ous elecrivefranchise."The \(ide Awakesworked to attract young men to political par-
                             ticipation in generaland to a lifelong relationshipwith the Republicans particular.23
                                 Ho* yonng werethe \7ide Awakes?          The  rostersof several              in
                                                                                                 comPanies Cleveland-a
                             ciry witlr rypical\fide Awakeactiviqy-help providesomevaluable             if partid demograph-
                             ic tl,res.Tir. ror,.r, show that three-quarters the clubs'memberswere betweenfifteen
                             and forty yearsold, and more than one-quarter         would havebeenbelow voting agein^the
                             l"st ptesid.ntial election. There were more membersunder twenty-one than over fifry.'!7ide
                             Mori important, an analysis electoralticketsfor 1860 demonstrates
                                                             of                                             that        Awakes
                             *ere co.riiderablyyounger     than politicians. The bulk of men running for local positions
                             were betweenforry and sixry yearsold, nearly two decades           older than the average'!7ide
                             Awake. On the tickersexamined;only one candidate             for office was under thirry unlike
                                                            'Wide                     'Wide
                             the majoriry of Clevelandb             Awakes.Finally,           Awake companies      often broad--
                             casrrh;ir yourh, electingmen in their twentiesand thirties to serveas the public faceof
                             the movement.2a
                                 Thoseyoung men somerimes          irritated older eitablished  politicians.Unfamiliar with
                             traditionalcampaign      boundaries,   the'lfide Awakes     showedtheir political inexperience'
                             youthful .*,rb.iarri., and devotion to the parry by simply appearingat the homes of
                             prominentleaders,      expecting  late-nightspeeches.   Someobligedthoseinvadingtheir pri-
                             ,r".y, but many politi-ians reactedangrily to the suddencrashof midnight brassbands
                             "nd th. glow oltorches beneaththeir windows. Several             Republicanpoliticians stormed
                             out in their nightshirts to order the companiesoff the premises.          The pressure     that the
                             Wide Awakes     put  on their party'seldersand the palpable     annoyance engendered
                                                                                                         this              chal-
[rc,r frlican                lengethe imageof campaignclubsascreations           of interested political bosses.  Many drowsy
i:lc:r r. and                politicians  would haverejected     that claim.25
, n'-iiiraris-                   Establishedparty leadersalso looked askance the \Wide Awakesbecause their
                                                                                      at                                of
. ll.,:,,inted
lou.r Heri-                   non-elite ,ootr. Tho,rgh the movement incorporated members from most sectionsof
?(t: 'ti.                     sociery wage laborersand farmerspredominated.Some Republicanleaderseven com-
                              plained about the absence     of        intelligent classes" the \Wide Awake ranks, which
                              ihey claimedwere     made up of          mechanic,or laborer,or clerk." Censusrecordsfrom
i voung men of
                              Ohio and Connecticut indicate many farmers,factory workers, and carpentersin the
thcir arms and
                             \WideAwakes,in addition ro somemiddle-class            young men employedas storeclerksor
t.- \ervard was
                              railroad ticket agents.  The \fide Awakeswere diverse,however,and the organizationin-
J i r i c a l r i s eo f a
                              corporatedsomebankers,merchants,and lawyers.Occasionally,               established   young men
foc' again and
                              suchasCharlesFrancisAdamsJr. joined the movement,but they represented curiosity         a
rhrps explains
                              and   were frequentlypestered    into joining by losal'W'ideAwake companies.          Classdiffer-
,        historian
' s u P P o r rc a m e
r in carlierelec-                ,3 William E. Gienapp, "Who Voted for Lincoln?," in Abraham Lincoln and theArnerican Poliical Tiadition, ed.
'                                                                   "The
                                                                           $7ide Awakes," Bangor Daill\Vhigand Courier,Nov6, 1860.
  unlike the di-             John L. Thomas (Amhersi, 19g6),76;
                                 2a The averageage of \?ide Awake club members was compiled by correlating the rosters for companies in sev-
hc importance                eral Cleveland wlrds-with censusinformation. See
                                                                                                   Awakes," Daily ClzuelandHeraA, May 26, 1860;
r vorersshould                                 ibid., Maly 29, 1860; and  HeritageQuest Online, hnp:// The aver-
t dc'cribed the              age age ofcandidares on efectoral tickets was compiled by correlating published lists with censusinformation. See
                             "F..pibli."n                                                           'Democratic
                                           Ciry Ticket," Daily Cleuehnd Herald,-March 3l , 1860;                  Electoral Ticket ," Columbas Ohio
r. oi the glori-                                          'April
                             Stairr-an, Sept.  I I, 1860;        Election," Riplq Bee, March 22, 1860; and HeitageQuest Online, hrtp:llpetsi
                                 '5 eharles Sumner, The Vorks of CharlesSumner (15 vols., Boston, lB75-1895), V 345; "Political A_ffairs:
| \1:..cllany," Neec,        ernor Seward on the $7ing, OurAuburn Correspondence,Aurora, N.Y.,".A/urzYorhHeral4 Sept. 3, 1860, p. 5; Carl
                             Schvz, Tlte Reminiscencei of Carl Scharz vol. II: I 829- I 863 (New York, l9O7) ' 194-95 '
368                                  The Journal of American History                                  2009

     The four sceneson these facing pagesfrom the promotional pamphlet PippsAmong the tVide
     Au.,ahes  demonstrate the organization's deliberate appeal to young voters. They depict, from
     left to right, young Mr. Pipps examining his new moustache,reading about politics in the
     Republican New Yorh Tribune, getting beaten up by
                                                                          antagonists" while in his                  rache in the mirror a
            Awake uniform, and arguing with his conservative Democratic farher. Reprintedfrom                        his conservativefath
     Charles G. Leland, Pipps Among the \?'ide Awakes (New Yorh: Weuill & Chapin Engrauers 6
                                                                                                                     influencesand deter
     Printers, 1860). Courtesy Historical Society of Pennsyluania, Philadelphia.
                                                                                                                     fighting off Democr
ences, though far less glaring than the obvious age gap, further complicated the relation-                           becoming Man ol
ship berween the grassrootsmovement and elite politicians.26                                                         paign-not marriag
                                                           "the                                                      phlet details ho'*'r'o
    Vhile Republicans eventually developed confidence in        moral force of such a body
of young men," their opponents saw the Vide Awakes' age as a major weakness. Great-                                  newfound members
                                                                       "infant                                       independent actors I
ly exaggerating their youth, Democrats characterized members as                politicians,"
roo young even to vote. Many questioned the masculiniry of the young members, call-                                      Pipps's story \'\'ou
                         "beardless                              "infants                                            lives.Men in their r
ing the \Wide Awakes                and precocious youths" and             whose mammas
didnt know they were out." The frequent attacks on the youthfulness of the movement's                                generation that *'ot
members offer a glimpse of the relationship benveen age, masculiniry and political par-                              sponseto the politir
ticipation in that era. Denigrating the $7'ide Awakes' manliness also probably comforted                             William Seward. ar
those alarmed by the ominous sight of an army of torch-bearing, uniformed Republicans                                \X7ideAwakes, decla
marching in loclstep.2T                                                                                                   None but Repu
    The illustrated pamphlet PippsAmong thelYide Awaker provides a powerful example of                                    first generation  ,
the movementt deliberate apped to young voters. This strange little comic book tells the                                  has appearedin
story of twenry-one-year-old Pipps, who takes his first step toward political participation                               tonight. It is th
by joining the lVide Awakes. The pamphlet begins with Pipps admiring his new mous-                                        and twenty vca
    26 "What Should be Done," Miluaukee Daily Sentinel, Oct. I l, I860. Information on Wide Awakes' employ-
                                                                                                                          the distraction  <
                           "Lincoln                                                         "'Wide
ment was compiled from              Vide Awakis," Daily ClzuelandHerald" May 26, 1860;             Awakes,"]b;d.,    What had happenc
May 29, 1860; Rathbun,             Awakes,"' 328; and censusinformation available at HeritageQuestOnline, http:ll Awake companies often declared prominent figures-such as Abraham Lin-             Wide Awake genera
coln, Thurlow Weed, and Edwin Morgan-honorary members of their clubs. See                     Wide-Awake Repub-
                                                                                                                        rE Charles G. t-elend
lican Club to Abraham Lincoln (Certificate of membership)," June 1, 1860, series l, General Correspondence,                           '$'idc
 1833-1916, Abraham Lincoln Papers(Manuscript Division, Library of Congress);Madison Wisconsin      Daily Patriot,   see,for example,         .l
Sept. 12, 1860, p. 3; Atchison (KS) Veehh Champion and Press,  Sept 8, 1860, p. 2.                                   ond edition of the pemg'
                                                                                                                        r" "The
    '7 'The 'Wide Awakes," Daity Cbuehnd HeraU, Oct. 8, 1860; "\Vide Awakes," Chhago Ti,ibune, May 7 1860;                       Excursion t.'
                                                   "The                                                              u,aukee Daily Sennzal. :<1
Lowell Daily Citizen and Newl Oct. 13, 1860;            lVide Awake Organization," Neu York Heral4 Sept. 19,
1860.                                                                                                                grouPsare 6 cf
            September                                            The'Wide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                           369

P:.:.: .1nongthe rVide
ls Iircvdepict,          from
I rn,,rrrpolitics the  in
: ( ' : . r \ w h i l ei n h i s      tache in the mirror and deciding      cast his virgin vote at the coming election." Though
6::' ,- Reprinted                                                                       "wide                  "disdains
                         from         his conservativefather tries to talk him out of         awaking," Pipps             Parental
I r ,,in  Engrauers     &
                                      infuences and determines ro exercise   the high prerogativesof an American citizen." After
                                      fighting off Democratic rowdies, Pipps castshis first vote for Abraham Lincoln, thereby
mpl icaredthe relation-           Man of the \World and a Politician." Active participation in a political cam-
                                      paign-not marriage or fatherhood-affirms Pippst marurity and masculiniry. The pam-
nl tirrceof such a body               phlet details ho* you.g men could join the \7ide Awake movement to announce their
[ai.'r rveakness.Creat-               newfound membership in the political sphere, not as gears in a larger machine, but as
rs'infant politicians,"               independent actors using the organization for self-expression.28
                                         Pippst story would nor have won young northerners unlessit connected to their own
 ]()un€l members,call-
ftnrs rvhose mammas                   lives. Men in their rwenries and thirties, convinced that they representedan ascendant
lsrr oi the movementt                 generarion that would remake American politics, focked to Wide Awake clubs in re-
nirr. and political par-     to the political conficts that shaped their young adulthood. Their older Patron'
n probably comforted                  Willi"- Seward, articulated that conviction before an audience of cheering Michigan
rr i iirrmed Republicans              Wide Awakes, declaring:
                                            None but Republicanswill be born in the United Statesafter the year 1860. T.
 a lro$'erful example of                    first generationof the young men of the country, educatedin the Republicanfaith,
lc .,'n'ric book tells the                  has appearedin your presence a strong and bold demonstrativerePresentation
I pol irical participation                  tonight. It is the young men who constitute the \7ide Awake force. Ten years ag!'
miring his new mous-                        and lwe.rty years ago,ih. Vid. Awake force were incapableof being organized for
                                            the distraction ofthe country and the Republicancause.
n , :. \\'ide Awakes' employ-
It i'"     \X/ide Awakes," ibid.,
                                      What had happened in the last few decadesto cause young men to coalesceinto the
fl o: :.i g ()uest Online, htp: | |   'W'ide
Dr.' 'uch as Abraham Lin-                   Awake generation in 1860?' e
lr..iso Wide-Awake Repub-
                                         28 Charles G. Leland, Pipps Among the Vide Auahes (New York, 1860). For advertisements for this pamphlet,
I. r ,rneral Correspondence,                             "Vide
Jl:, ': \\"t:consin Daily Patiot,     see,for example,           Awakes!Atten"tion!,"advertisement,.Tzniry  F4! Oct.27.,1860, p. 2l9.The ad is for a sec-
                                      ond edition of the pamphlet, whose very existencesuggeststhe pamphlets "Mr. populariry'
                                                                                                                              .       'S7ide
                                          2e "The Excursi,onto Detroit," Daily Cleueknd Herald, Sept.6, i g6O;         Seward to the         Awakes," Mil'
ls;.    l,ibune, May 7, 1860;
                                      uaukeeDaily Sentinel,Sept.l}, I 860. Tiere areproblemsin speakingoFhistoricalgenerarions:       the lines berweenage
 h-.   li,rk Heral4 Sept. 19,
                                      gro.rp. ".. J"g,r., .ro.ta.rt affects just one cohort, and members ofa generation never react identically to an event.
370                                The Journal of American History                                 2009
                                                                                           September                                         T

    Born in the years between the elections of John Q,rit ry Adams in 1824 and                                        The'Wide Awakes h;
Henry Harrison in 1840, most'Wide Awakes were infants during the shift from                                       gripped the nation ior
bargain'to the hard cider populism that signaled the democratization ofAmerican poli-                             Mexico, increasing nat
tics. Unfortunately, these boys came of age during less optimistic times and were shaken                          tory of the Revolution
by the bitter tensions and overwhelming political malaise of the 1850s. The sectional                             on nineteenth-centun
pressures the Mexican'W'ar, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska
           of                                                                     confict,                        the Vide Awakes as pa
and the caning of Charles Sumner combined to create the political   world view of a gener-                        in hundredsofpseudo
ation ofnortherners. They inherired a nation that hadjust gained five hundred thousand                            martial languagein tht
squaremiles of Mexican territory but had lost its two-parry system and some of its most                           rhe first organizarion tl
prominent elder statesmen. Many young men were painfully aware of the capacities of                               r*'rote Georgials Maron
their political system,both to conquer abroad and to crumble at home.3o                                           ro organize            pc
           Awake promorers often invoked generational anxieties to rally young men. In                            .\mericanculture in th
pamphlets and banners,the movement alluded to late opponents of the Democratic party                              campaign truly innova
such as Henry Clay and Daniel'W'ebster,implying that the deaths of those men required                                 Wide Awake milita
new partisans ro conrinue their good work. Painfully awdre of the shortcomings of the                             tiequently emploved t,
previous generations,the'Wide Awakes felt they could succeedby picking up where men                               \\'ide Awakes, the Rc
like Clay left off. Hundreds of thousands of young northerners, from New Jersey steve-                            phlets with militan' tr
dores to Ohio college srudents, came to see local \7ide Awake companies as a means to                             cians'stump speeches
right past wrongs. Roused by more than a decadeof disappointments from older politi-                              and passed   their milita
                                          "got                                                                     lncluding Ulysses (i
cians, the Wide Awake generation finally        their eyesopen."3r
                                                                                                                  lier campaigns   trumpc
"Cold Bloodedand EfrcientDrill"
                                                                                                                  Henry    Harrison, and
                                                                                                                  l.incoln'sbrief sen'ice
In midsummer the.Chicago Tribune published a letter by a \fide Awake that announced                               iional military identin
the formation of a club in Henry County, Illinois. The enthusiasticwriter reported,                                   In light of the club
'old                            'young                                                                            ;urred at Vide A*'alic
     men are for counsel,' the          men for war,' and if you would like to seeone hun-
              'wide-awake'                                                      "counsel"
dred young                  soldiers, just call on us." The tension between               and                     icnrury political cultu
"war"                                                                                                             pcaceful. Vithin a tn
       had little to do with violence; rather, the letter refers to contrasting approaches to
electioneering.Counsels and backroom negotiations epitomized the politics of an older                             doned their origind e
generarion,while uniforms and midnight drills symbolized the young menb war for the                               rirelv on nonviolenr p:
ballot box. Many Republicans took a surprisingly martial approach to the campaign, a                              cvidenceabout the mi
                                                                                  "The                                               rhan c
move so unprecedented that the panicked Ausin TbxasState Gazette warned,               young                      more aggressive
and daring   element of Abolitionism is for the 6rst time enthused with something like a                              Bloodshed occurre
love for military prowess."        was militarism so appealing to that generation?Did the                         tired from region to r
young men's symbolic war somehow spill over into the real thing?32                                                rhev usedstones,bricl
                                                                                                                  .\*'ake parades,hurlin
There were over 3 million white men in their rwentiesand thirties in the North in 1860; even if 500,000joined
the'Wide Awakes, it was a minoriry response.But portions of age groups sometimes coalescearound formative mo-      ment alsoinitiated vio
menrs experienced in late adolescence. On the role ofyoung southerners in pushing for secession_anddrivin_gCon-    srrovingits engine bcl
federate nationalism, see Gary \W. Gallagher, The ConfederateVar (Cambridge. Mass., 1997), 96-98; and Peter S.
                                                                                                                  Awakes, when asked
Carmichael, TheLast Generation:YoungVirginians in Peace,Wan and Reunion (Chapel Hill' 2005).
    30 The corrupt bargain was the deal dlegedly struck by John
                                                                Quincy Adams and Hen-ry Clay to gjve Adams the     made of soft pine and
presidency in the conGsted election of 1824.Herd cider populism refers to the identification of \?illiam Henry-    lence involved more v
i{arrison with that beverageof the common man-and the liberal distribution of it to voters-in the election of
 1840. On the senseof misiion of the generation that came of age in the 1850s and Sewardt tour of the Midwest,     ro open-air audienccs
seethe autobiography of a prominent Wide Awake: Charles Francis AdamsJr., CharlesFrancisAdams, 1835-1915:          rried to shout dor,r'nh
An Auabiograpfu (Boston, 1916).
    tt Sp.t-ry,-Rtpublican Widz-Awahes of Hartford, Organized March 3, 1860; "Politicd Miscellany'' New Yorh          "
                                                                                                                         Marcus CunliiIe. -Vir
 Times, Sept.4, 1860.                                                                                                   Reign of the Clubs.- .tr
    r' "The Good W'ork in Henry Counry" Cbicago Tiibune, June 18, I 860, p. 2; Austin Tixas State Gazette,Oct.        " For marrial met:phor
27. 1860.                                                                                                         r. Grant, Personat ltcmo:a a
x c : r b e r2 0 0 9                                  The \W'ideAwakesand Lincoln's 1850 Campaign                                371

and W'illiam                    The \7ide Awakes hardly introduced America to militarism.              fever" had already
Dnr                          gripped the   nation for over a decade. The combined weight of the victorious war with
ncricanpoli-                 Mexico, increasing nationalism at home, and the stressschools put on the military his-
rr.creshaken                 tory of the Revolution encouraged a civilian obsession with the military. The best work
lhc sectional                on ninereenrh-century militarism, Marcus Cunliffet Solliers and Ciuiliam, acknowledges
sk.i confict,                the \7ide Awakes as parr of a fascination with martial organizations that manifested itself
r, of a gener-               in hundreds of pseudomilitary associations.Likewise, political organizers often employed
t.l rhousand                 martial languagein their behind-the-scenes    communications, but the'Wide Awakes were
e t,i its most               the first organization to make public use of militarism as a political identiry.     parry"
capacities  of               wrote Georgiis Macon Tbhgraph,            heretofore been so desperate   and abandoned" as
                             to organize           political clubs." Though militarism was present in other aspectsof
ung men. In                  American culture in the 1850s,irs overt incorporation into politics made the \?'ide Awake
oir.rtic party               campaign truly innovative.33
ncn required                           Awake militarism extended far beyond wearing uniforms. Partisan newspaPers
                                                               "soldiefs," "the        "arms,"      "weapons"
rninqsof the                 frequently employed terms like                     afmy,"         and              to refer to
l u heremen                  V'ide Awakes, the Republican parry torches, and ballots. Members          larded their pam-
Jcrscv steve-                phlets with military terminology, and martial metaphors became ubiquitous in politi-
I J nreansto                 cians' stump speeches.  Many of the club's older officers were veterans of the Mexican \Var
 oldcr politi-               and passed  their military experienceon to their men. Former and future military icons-
                             including UlyssesS. Grant-taught the lVide Awakes textbook infantry drills. \7hile ear-
                             lier campaignstrumpeted the personalmilitary backgroundsofAndrewJackson,'Sfilliam
                             Henry Harrison, andZachary Thylor, the               Awakes idealized the militarism, not of
                             Lincoln's brief service, but of the mass of campaigners, offering each partisan a profes-
! announced                  sional military identiry.ia
Srrtcd,                          In light of the clubt militarism, the brawls, stabbings, and shootings that often oc-
lec one hun-                 curred at'W'ide Awake demonstrations are impossible to ignore. Nonetheless,nineteenth-
D u n s e l "a n d           cenrury political culture was prone to violence, and the November election was relatively
pproaches      to            peaceful. Within a few months of their founding, the             Awakes had largely aban-
I of'an older                doned their original employment as escortsfor Republican speakersto focus almost en-
l .rer for the               tirely on nonviolent parades.Although \Wide Awake-related violence provides important
c.tnrPaign,      a           evidenceabout the militarism of the movement, it does not indicate that the clubs were
   lire young                more aggressivethan other partisan organizations of the period.
nhing like a                     Bloodshed occurred mostly in competitive parts of the lower North, and it often dif-
ion? Did the                 fered from region to region. East Coast partisans usually clashed in large melees where
                             they used srones, bricks, and torches as weapons. In many casesrowdies ambushed Wide
.*a),ro"d              Awake parades, hurling bricla and screaming,          the damn \fide Awakes." The move-
| :,,rmative o-
           m                 ment also initiated violence, in one instanceattacking a Manhattan fire company and de-
N ;rn ing Con-               stroying its engine before being chased off by ax-wielding firemen. The New York'Wide
9r .rnd PeterS.
                             Awakes, when asked about their frequent brawls, complained that their torches were
, g : ' . r . \ d a m sh e
                      t      made of soft pine and splintered after just a few blows to the head. Farther west, the vio-
 \\:.lrrnr Henry
                             lence involved more weapons. Oscar Lawrence Jackson, a rwenfy-year-old who lectured
! r:.. rlection of
or :rr Midwest,              to open-air audiencesin rural Ohio, recorded an incident in which drunken Democrats
                                                                "It                                                  "as
>r ;\.15-1915:               tried to shout down his speech.        came near taking a serious turn," Jacksonwrote,
br'.     .Yew Yorh               33 Marcus Cunliffe, Soldiersand Ciuilians: TheMartial Spirit'in America, 17711565 (New York, 1973),96;
                                   Reign of the Clubs," Macon Tilegraph,Sept. 19, 1860.
3r ' t.t:ette, Oct.              3a Foi martial metaohors (in a No=vember1860 speech),see Sumner, \Y'orks CharlesSumnerY,345. Ulysses
                             S. Granr, Personal Mem'oirs lJ. S. Grant, ed. E. B. Long (Cambridge' Mass.,20bl), 109'
                                             The Journal of American History                                            2009
                                                                                                                September                                                   Th

          ''Wide                                                                                                                                      "bearing,"
                 Awakes' were prepared and would have shot and sliced them like dogs if any                                                     that              the movt
                                                 "a                                                                                             campaign. Members'ob
    one of us had been ,trrr.k." Elr.ntr took       serious turn" in the Midwest with frightening
    frequency. The Democratic candidare        for coroner in an Indiana town shot a club mem-                                                  capesor the color of the
                                           'S7ide                      "ring                                                                    the centrality of the se
    ber^in thl shoulder, and an Illinois          Awake stabbed the          leader of a mob" seven
                                                                                                                                                clubs stumbled along in
    times during a late night brawl.3t
        It is e"iy to see a link between the militarism of the movement and those                                                   Awake parades followed
                                                                                                                                                 ual, Rifle and Ltght Infa
    violent episodes,but to do so ignores key aspectsof the Wide Awakes' clashes.Despite
    their imposing image, the clubsimode of demonstrating made its-members more vulner-                                                         physical action, but ratl
                                                                                                                                                with democraticpanicil
    able to ih. gJ.rriG warfare of nineteenth-century political violence. A tightly packed
                                                                                                                                                    The movement's org:
    group of .WIde Awakes surrounded by large crowds of anonymous sPectators made an
                                                                                                                                                \X/hile spectators enjorr
    I".y i"rg., for a few teenagebrick throwers. \7hen violence did occur, \fide Awakes rare-
    ly mainiained their formation. As it broke up, some individual members charged their                                                        paign rarely applied to t
                                                                                                                                                Forbade                 or
    opponents while others fled for cover. The'Wide Awakes also never displayed w€aPons'
                                                                                                                                                In September Vanity Fa
    "r,i ,hor. who used knives or revolvers brought them individually and hid them beneath
                                                                                                                                                movement and claiming
    their capes.Even the rorches, though often used as clubs, proved unreliable.'lfith a few                                                                       "soldien
    highly publici".d exceprions, th. \X/ide Awakes fought like Democrats or Know-Noth-                                                         can power over
                                                                                                                                                lations, joining the V'id
    ings, not as an organized militia.
             Vide A**ke, struggled to convince a worried nation that their movement could                                                        carrying a vile-smell i ns
                                                                                                                                                 nization sapped the mo
    be both militaristic and pEceful. The captain of a lower Manhattan club informed the
                                                   "not                                                                                          rics.3e
    New York Times that the \fide Awakes were           only the most numerous, the best disci-
                                                                                                                                                    Observersnoted the
    plined and the most effective polirical organization this country has ever seen,"but also
    Ithe                                                                                                                                         rhat \fide Awake demo
          be.t behaved." Lecrurers reminded hotheaded members that their martial talk was
    metaphorical, and election day editorials begged the'!(ide Awakes to avoid violence at the                                                   One missesthe spontan
                                                                                                                                                 Hampshiret excited Rc
    polls. writer in St. Louis dismissedfearsof Wide Awake violence, joking that their                                                      "less
                                                                                                                                                       noisy than some or
    Lrganization owes itself to some shrewd Yankee,who invented a cheap uniform. . . . There
    is iro warlike intention wharever in the movement." Despite their frequent scraPes'the                                                       .\wakes' stresson mani,
    \ride Awakes self-consciously   claimed to have little love of violence.r6                                                                   rhe 1860 presidential cr
        \7'hy would the movement cultivate a maftial image, if.not for violent ends? Marcus                                                      sinceDavid Potter's Tra
                                                                                                                                                 Wide Awakes offered so
    Cunliffet examination of nineteenth-century American militarism suggests answer to
                                      that militarism was often more performative than func-                                                     rvild election of 1840-
    that question. Cunliffe argued
    tional. Examining the Union soldiers who fed without firing at the first battle of Ma-                                                       movement presentedrr
                                            "performed                                                                                           ment demonstratesthe
    nassas,Cunliffe concluded that they                 their dury as they interpreted the verb:
    they had made a show and now theii time was up." Militarism could certainly involve                                                             Though lacking drur
    ,rioience,but it could also be used to display discipline and uniformiry. The martial spirit                                                 Jreds of thousandso[
    was as much a demonstration of organizational capacitiesas a means of inciting men to                                                        harsh view of historians
    kill each other.37                                                                                                                           than just free liquor cou
                                                      "self-imposed                                                                              Jeadly seriousness   por*r
        Cunliffe's interpretation helps explain the                  discipline" of the movement.
                                                                                         "the                                                                        "mar(
    In the words of an Ohio congressional          candidate, the \Wide Awakes united         mar-                                               crs drawn to the
    tial bearing of the soldier wirh the manly port of the     free American citizen," reinventing                                               push that alerted the pr
    partisanship as                   half-civil-all patriotic, all manly." Successfully projecting                                                  '* "The Great Demonstrrr
                                                                                                                                                iiiddle, Backus and Paine Scn
           35 "political RiotatTloy,"NauYorhHerald,Oct.lT,l860;'TheFightbeveentheWideAwakesandFiremen,"                                          ,i Hartlord."
                                                                                          "Republican                                                "'
                                                                                                        M"ss.Meeting. Democratir Assault,"              Sperry Republican Vld
    ibid.,Nov.5, 1860; Jackson,Colonel\ Diary ed.Jackson,30;
                                                         "fusault                                                 Tibune, Sept' 2l ' I 860..    rccticut S?ideAwakes," Chr4
    Daily n n A , , . * p , Hrrild. e M i s c27 e f1860: u Y o r h ' T i m e saS i p t . 2 - 8 , Meeting," Chicago,
    - - - i i ; Cleueknd t o M r f AuF,.h i , , ; ' N e              Upon , Republican                                                                                         -'
                                                                                                 1860;^Mrnr.n9ld;-speechonPresentingthe         :;rr: Sept. 29,1860, p. 168:
                                                                                                                     "Letter                         '" GeorgeTempletonStrot
    prize Banner," Ciicago Tiibune, Oct.4, 1860; Sumner, W'orks Charles                   of         SumnerY,345;            trom 5t. Louis."

I   San Francisco Bulletin, Nov. 6, I 860.
           37 Cunliffe, SoAiersand Ciuilians, 8.
                                                                                                                                                  seartle,1988),43;         Scco
                                                                                                                                                 \iltermdil, Iulv 7, 1860; Potra
                   2009                                                  The'Wide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign                                          373

frc:r like dogs if any                        that             the movement used militarism to declare the organizational strength of its
Ic'i s'ith frightening                        campaign. Members' obsessionwith their unifoffn5-shey focused on the length of their
rr-. .hot a club mem-                         capesor the color of their caps above most other factors of the campaign-demonsrrates
a.:rr of a mob" seven                         the centrality of the seemingly insignificant military symbolism. \Vhile other partisan
                                              clubs stumbled along in messy romps connoting disorganization and inefficiency,'Wide
trlr " cln€nt and those                      Awake parades followed the drills set out in Maj.                 James Hardeet military man-
ili.. .lashes.Despite                         ual, Rifle and Light I&"t y Thctics.          Awake militarism was never a preparation for
le:r,i.crsmore vulner-                       physical action, but rather a powerful campaign metaphor linking military iconography
x. \ tightly packed                          with democratic participation.38
I ri..ttlltofs          made an                  The movement's organizational militarism explains the puzzling lack of fun involved.
r. \\ ide Awakes rare-                       \X/hile spectators enjoyed the parades, the traditional image of an unruly hoopla cam- chargedtheir                       paign rarely applied to the experiencesof the'W'ide Awakes themselves. Many companies
r .ii.plavedweaPons,                         Forbade                 or disorderly conduct," cigar smoking, and speaking in the ranks.
rnJ irid them beneath                        In September Vanity Fair published a lemer from a former'S7ide Awake denouncing the
nrf li.rble.\Mith a few                      movement and claiming that its obsession       with'drill and rank allowed officers r''rbll-
cr.rr' ()r Know-Noth-                        can power over                 Many felt that, in addition to complying with the strict regu-
                                             lations, joining the Wide Awakes meanr                   in the mud wearing a heavy cape and
h.r: nrovementcould                          carrying a vile-smelling torch on a hot, sultry night." The focus on militarism for orga-
tn .lLrb informed the                        nization sapped the movement of much of the joy involved in nineteenth-century poli-
Dc:(,us. bestdisci-
61\rr seen," ut also
                 b                               Observersnoted the absenceof merriment. The diarist George Templeton Strong felt
thcrr nrartial talk was                      that \Wide Awake demonstrations            elaborateand splendid, but cold and mechanical.
; .r'. riclviolence at the
     ,                                       One missesthe spontaneoushullabaloo and furor of the Harrison campaign." Even New
tcc. roking that                             Hampshiret excited Republican papers grudgingly admitted that the organization was
rpLrnifbrm....There                                noisy than some other hilarious movements during political campaigns."The \W'ide
 tirtltrcnt scrapes'the                      .{wakes'stresson maftial ordet not boisterous fun, contrastswith the popular image of
                                             rhe 1860 presidential contest as a              campaign." That has been the prevalent view
Y i , ' i c n te n d s ? a r c u s
                         M                   since David Pomer'sTheImpending Crisis appearedin I976,but it ignores the fact that the
tug5estsan answer to                         Wide Awakes offered something other than traditional               and excitemenr." Unlike the
fr,rnr.rtive than func-                      rvild election of 1840-a campaign pracdcally dripping hard cider-the \W'ideAwakes'
hc rlrst battle of Ma-                       nlovement presented voters with a sober martial theme. Its peculiar form of entertain-
 inrrrpreted the verb:                       ment demonstraresthe complexity hiding behind such terms as                   campaign."ao
xri.l certainly involve                         Though lacking drunken exuberance, the Vide Awakes' striking image enticed hun-
ftr lhe martial spirit                       Jreds of thousands of members and probably millions of spectators.Challenging rhe
n . , , i i n c i t i n gm e n t o           harshview of historians such as Altschuler and Blumin, the movemenr proves that more
                                             :han just free liquor could catch the public's attention. Some element of the \7ide Awakes'
Dc oi the movement.                          Jeadly seriousnesspowerfully appealed to mass audiences. 'Why were so many northern-
             "the                                                "martial
lc. rrnited       mar-                       rrs drawn to the              bearing" of the Wide Awakes? tVhat cultural button did they
t cirizen,"reinventing                       rush that alerted the public ro rhe organizational power of militarism?
u.. c'sfully projecting                         " "The
                                                           Great Demonstration," Phikdelphia North American and (Jnited StatesGazette, Ocl 4, 1860; "Messrs.
                                             i:Jdle, Backus and Paine Serenaded,"Daiiy Cteueknd HeraU, Aug.22, 186Q Sperry, "Republican Wide-Awakes
L.:. \sakes and Firemen,"                      : Hartford."
Bn. I )emocraticAssault,"                            Sperry Republican \Vidz-Awakesof Hartford, Organized March i, 1860; "Worthy of Imitation-the            Con-
t i ) , , ' , , t eS e p t . 2 1 1 8 6 0 .
                   .             ,           : r:ricut \fide Awakes," ChieagoTi,ibune,May 7 , 1860; "Letter to the Editor from Dr. Archer of New Jersey,"Vanity
                                             :;;r Sept. 29, 1860, p. 168; "The Campaign in Connecricut," Neu Yorh Times,
ls .-...h on Presentingthe                                                                                                        July 28, 1860.
                                                  " GeorgeTempleton Strong, TheDiary
l.        - crrer from St. Louis,"                                                         of George   Tbmplznn Strozg, ed. Allan Nevins and Milton Halsey Thomas
                                              .<rrtle, 1988), 43;  "The
                                                                        Second Demonstration by the Wide-Awake Clubs of Conco rd," ConcordNew Hampshire
                                                          July 7, 1860; Potter, Irnpending Crisis, ed. Fehrenbacher,435.
                                 The Journal of American History                               2009
                                                                                       September                                                           1

     The Vide Awakes' popular militarism grew out of their parryt struggle to _organize.                        fire our dwellings and
The Republi.".r,, lacked passionate leadership or fiery ideolory; rather, the young                      CongressSenator Loui
-o1r.*..,,     suffered from orga.ti"ational weakness. ln The Origins of the Republican Party,                  .\rvake Praetorians- ro
'$Tilliam                                                                                                       rion of a handful of bl:
            Gienapp argued that the Republicans offered superior modvation but inferior
organization compared ro the veteran Democrats' established electioneering techniques.                          .rlsoinfuriated racist r
Gi..r"pp quoted a Republican who recalledthe 1856 John C. Fr€mont campaign as sort                              ihe coming Republica
of -oL, unorgani"ed, contending with a well drilled and bold enemy. Ve did wonders                                   \{ost southernersti
because*. *J.. enthusiastic "nJitt earnest, but no enthusiasm or earnestnesscan stand                           :o rheir political proc
                                             "Drill"                                                            .rrmv under the guisec
againstcold blooded and efficient drill."             seemedto be the proPer way to strengthen
tf,. p"rty', image, to turn   it from an enthusiastic mob into a uniform military body.nt                       :he government."Rad
     Militarism zupplied a simple identity for a party struggling to unite. As a diverse con-                   \\'ide Awakesas a Rep
glomeration of fot-.t Vhigs, Know-Nothings, Free-Soilers'and Democrats, Republi-                                 .n.rugurateAbraham I
fans shared little besides a belief in northern superiority. \7hile a slave sociery and mi-                     \\'ide Awakes-unlikt
 nority status joined southerners, and Democrats could hearken back to the memory of                             :red grown into a con
Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson, it was extremely unclear what united Republicans                               eehl_y   HeraU arricula
 or norrh;rners in 1860. Free labor, however significant, was a hard banner to march un-                         :.cnt." Bv crossingtht
 der, as it was too complex and deep-seatedto reduce to campaign symbols. Instead, young                         :()mination and elect
                                                     "from                                              campaign for ofFc
 Republicans .-b.".i        the martial metaphor            one end of the North to the other."
                                                                           "excursions"                           \rreke midnighr led r
 To show their cohesion, Wide Awake companies frequently went on                          to other
 towns and even other states, marching with fellow northerners         who wore the same uni-                    ::ccarious political pn
 form. Their shared militarism created a superficial but evocative senseof political and sec-                          Ihe \fide Ar'r'akes
                                                                                                                 r'rs. Fiery speakers        a
 tional unity. fu the Democratic party publicly split its seams,the Republicanspulled on^a
 dark \TideAwake cloak ,o .orr.i the ricent stit;hing holding their new party together.42                        :::rclv agitatedrhe al
     The generation rhar.ioined the \fide Awake campaign shared that martial ardor and                            .i.ic Virginia and caP
 fear of iisorgarri""rion. In a few short years, young Americans had watched their mili-                                   u'ill shoulder th
 ,"ry .o.rq,r.r1nd their parties crumble. Their officers had radiated victory while their po-                    ::rcrs, rhev often em1
                                       'Vhere the generation's obsession with correcting past                     -''.rked William [-or,
 lirical leaders had oozed malaise.
                                                   "cold                                     \Wide                {.'* have frighr
 mistakes overlapped with a parryt need for               blooded and efficient drill," the
 Awakes *.r. boirr. The movement's three fundamental components-militarism'                 youth,                * ird shadou' thev c-a
 and parry    organization-interacted and at times blended, like the overlapping circles in a                     A : . c ni t r h v m e s : di"gt"i-r. R, i,r center lay a strange movement: militant, but antiviolent; young, but                              ()ur torches flare
 fixated on maturitp and partisan, but distant from established leadership'                                                \nd filled the strc
                                                                                                                           .\nd s-e\r'eresure
      "Monster                                                                                                             \\'hare'ermight cr
The               Body Guard" Haunts the South
The        Awakes displayed a fourth paradox. Though highly local, the movement had                              \oring and Fighting
grave nation"l .orrr.q,r.tces. Intent on battling northern Democrats, few \7ide Awakes
Ionsidered how their militarism appearedbelow the Mason-Dixon line. Looking north                                I rcn \ovember 6 c
to the network slowly stretching into Maryland, Virginia, and Missouri' many panicked                            -:c Jav s'as peacetu
southerners interpreted the movement as confirmation of their fears of northern coercion.                                   'ir:r
                                                                                                                                        .'f rhc \-rdc \r
Virginians warned that the Wide Awakes            rails to break open our doors, torches to                        't,!         ;-o:.    [^--   I-1. 1i{{
                                                                                                                          ' '
                                                                                                                                 l':lc Rcrgn of rirr ( ir
   'r Gienapp,                                                                                                    '' -;-: \us. I l l8t'r.t:-]h
                       of Republican 415.
              Origins rhe             Party'                         ''excursions," "Excursion!,"                       ' tlsen Lovejor'. Hl I
   ,, Tho-i,""n, 'ftrial A*"t !r of 1860,"              Awakgifrequent
                                         iC'. O" rhe$7ide                       see
                                           "Excursion    Tickersi PhiladelphiaNorth America and UnitedStates     r . 1r ' r c i U r b a n a ,l 0 O { . L r
BanqorDaily Whisand Courien Aus.2, 1860;
                           "Visir of th"e                                                               1860i    triiid.- ,lliddlcou1 ( aryt
Ci"1ir, Sr1jr.  t4,'t860;                Newark Wide Awakes Hartford,"Middleto*n Constindon,
                                                          ro                                   flg' I '
'trei.t"ri1rJ A"tr,t' Amhrrrt FartneriCabina,Sept.26, 1860;"The Muster,"ibid., Oct. 10, 1860;and funhart and     - ,r.:,t o.lCongra:: .{ma;z
           "'Prairies          48.
                      A-Btaze,"'                                                                                                                 .
                                                                                                                    . * . r - r . c a s + a g o +a . . p . . .
                    September                                                                 The \fide Awakesand Lincolnt 1860 Campaign

p.rrr..\ struggle to organize.                      fire our dwellings and beneath their long, black capes,the knives to cut our throats." In
'icir,'ltrg)'irather,the young                                                                                                         "his'S7ide
                                                    CongressSenator Louis'$Tigfall of Texasaccused\Tilliam Seward of ordering
ig:,: ,,.f'theRepublican Party,                    Awake Praetorians" to           the country I live in with fire and sword." The participa-
;lt,: nrotivation but inferior                     tion of a handful of black men in a'!7ide Awake parade in Massachusetts-an event that
d r . . . r i o n e e r i n ge c h n i q u e s .   also infuriated racist northerners in both parties-confirmed        the southern narrative of
F r l . : r r , , nc a m p a i g n s s o r t
                    t                              the coming Republican apocalypse.a
Dlc :ncmv. We did wonders                               Most southerners feared the threat that'Wide Awakes posed, not to their throats, but
Enl rrr earnestness Stand       Can                to their political process. Many believed that the Republicans were organizing            vast
fr. nroper way to strengthen                       army under the guise of political clubs, intended to supersede Constitutional forcesof
                                                                                   'S7illiam                                    'Wise
un :l( )rm military                        the government." Radicals like            Lowndes Yancey and Henry A.              decried the
                                                   'W'ide                                             "a
B :', unire. As a diversecon-                             Awakes as a Republican paramilitary corps, monsrer body guard" that planned to
t .inJ Democrats, Republi-                         inaugurate Abraham Lincoln forcibly. At the center of the anxiety lay the belief that the
hiir .r slavesociety and mi-                       Wide Awakes-unlike the usual campaign clubs that melted away in mid-November-
kcn ['ack to the memory of                         had grown into a constant Republican auxiliary. A month after the election, the Dalks
s3pr. hat united Republicans                        \VeeklyHerald articulated these concerns in an article titled,         \fide Awakes Perma-
a h.rr.l banner to march un-                       nent." By crossing the boundaries that limited political clubs to participation between
ign .r rnbols. Instead,young                       nomination and elecdon, the Wide Awakes threatened to introduce America to a perpet-
Irrt lhc North to the other."                      ual campaign for offic€ and patronage. This terrifying premonidon of a permanent \Wide
ienr ()n                            to other       Awake midnight led many southerners to view the movement as a threat to the already
31. * ho wore the same uni-                        precariouspolitical process.aa
hc .cnseofpolitical and sec-                           The \7ide Awakes failed to appreciate the reasonable alarm of their southern neigh-
  rhc l{epublicans            pulled on a          bors. Fiery speakersat \fide Awake rallies, such as Congressman Owen Lovejoy, delib-
3rl-.crr     new parry together.a'                 erately agitated the already paranoid region. Lovejoy called on the \7ide Awakes to in-
urc.l rhat martial ardor and                       vade Virginia and capture Henry'Wise, predicting that instead of bearing rorches, soon
                                                   'they                                 'When lVide
en. ir.rd watched their mili-                             will shoulder their muskets."               Awakes did attempt to reassuresouth-
lia:,rJ. ictory while their po-                    etners, they often employed patronizing sarcasm.Connecticut's Mir/dletown Constitution
tic\\:()n rvith correcting past                    mocked'$7'illiam Lowndes Yanceys anxiery teasing,               terrible fellows, those Wide
nd :thcient drill," the                            Awakes, to have frightened Yancey so!" The \fide Awakes failed to notice the long south-
pon cn rs-militarism, youth,                       ward shadow they cast. A song written by a former -.-b.t          in 1863 demonstratesthis
r r h , ' , x e r l a p p i n gc i r c l e s n a   when it rhymes:
;  h'.ir .rnriviolent; young, but                           Our torchesflared with turpentine,
d l..rdership.                                              And filled the streetswith smoke;
                                                            And we were sure,
                                                                      might come: Secession a joke.a5

ilr ,,rcal,the movement had                        Voting and Fighting
!nr(le rilts, few \Wide Awakes
p[):ron line. Looking north                        When November 6 came,thousandsof plain-clothed \fide Awakespoliced the polls.
rd \ lissouri,many panicked                        The day was peaceful,and the resultspredictable.
                                                                                                  Abraham Lincoln won a weak plural-
ir t.'.irsof northern coercion.
                                                       a3 "Fear of the Vide Awakes," Middletown Constitution, Oct. 17, 1860; "Legislative Acts," Madison Visconsin
|l( ,,1.-n our doors, torches to                   DailyPatriot, Dec. 13, 1860;"TheLastPhaseofBlackRepublicanism," MaconVeehlyTelegraph,                                                               Oct. 10, 1860.
                                                       aa "TheReignof theClubl" MaconVeeh$Tehgraph,                                     Sept. 19, 1860,p. l;"The'$TideAwake'Clubq" NeaYorh
                                                   Herald, Atr:u'g.21,       1860;              Wide Awakes Permanent," Dalks lVeeklyHeraA, Dec.5, 1860.
                            "Excursion!,"              a5 Owen Lovejoy, His Brother's Blood: Speeehes
lx:     :rcursions," see                                                                                                         and W'ritings, 1838-64, ed. \Tilliam F. Moore and Jane Ann
b-      .:i, America and United States             M o o r e ( U r b a n a , 2 0 0 4 ) , 2 3 1 ; " S p e e c h o f H o n . O w e n L o v e j o y , " C h i c a g o T i , i b u n e ,c t . 1 8 , 1 8 5 0 , p . 2 ; " T h e l f i d e
         ,; (,onstitution, Aug. 1, 1860;                                                                                        "Two
k-'                                                Awakes," Middletown Constitution, Oct. 10, 1860;                                      YearsAgo: By a Drafted Wide Awake," song sheet, n.d.,
it      : 10. 1860: and Rinhart and                Library of Congress:        American Memory,
                                                   (Two+years+ago++            [n++p+]+ [n++d+])).
                       2009                               The Vide Awakesand Lincoln's 1860 Campaign                                        377

                                ity of 39.9 percent of the popular ballot but earned the electoral votes of all the northern
                                and western states,excluding part of New Jersey.Despite their stunning popularity, it

Bt                              is unlikely that the \fide Awakes won the election for the Republicans. Though George
                                Templeton Strong decided to vote for Lincoln after attending a \fide Awake paradi,
                                most voters probably responded to the larger forces promoting Republican realignment
                                and Democratic fissure. Even if it politicized thousands of young men who had never
                                before voted, Lincoln probably would have won without rhe movement.a6
 860.                               It is clear, however, that the Wide Awakes fundamentally altered the tone of the cam-
                                paign. They took a muddled political environment and turned it into one of the most
                                excited elections in American history. Through marches, speeches,       editorials, advertise-
                                ments' cartoons, jokes, and brawls, the'Wide Awakes triggered massivepopular enthusi-
                               lsm in the summer and fall of 1860. Democrats and Constitutional Unionists respond-
                               ed with their own clubs, further electrif ing the contest. Northerners becameso used to
                               the sound of marching companies that when a small earthquake shook Boston in mid-
                               October, many assumedit was simply the'Wide Awakes drilling on Bosron Common.aT
                               \'lost important, the prominent movement highlighted the powerful forcesof militarism,
                               )'outh, and partisan competition that dramatically altered the era. By energizing rhe rone
                               o[ the campaign, the \Wide Awakes had a major impact on how Americans interpreted
                               l-incolnt victory in the days and weeks between election and secession. the end of
                                1860, the nation was wide awake.
                                    Here the story enters that strange vortex between election and war. Yet the'Wide Awakes
                               bridge that divide. Vhile some companiesdisbanded after the election, hundreds of oth-
                               rrs continued to meet and offered to escort Lincoln down to \Tashington for his inaugu-
                               ration. They were politely refused, but the mere suggestionstoked sourhern fears.South
                              (-arolina fire-eaters                      "Minute
                                                      began to organize           Men" militias, not out of empry paranoia,
                               iut       an ofFset the W'ide Awakes of the North." The creation of the Minute Men is of-
                               :cn mentioned as a major stepping-stoneon the road to disunion, but few historians note
                              :hat they were a direct'responr. to th.'Wide Awakes. The link between secession         and the
                              :novement is even stronger than previously realized.As South Carolina'sleadersdebated
                              <'cessionlate on the evening of December 20, one speaker referencedthe movement.
                               Ihough endorsing secession,       Edward McCrady argued that his state should not "march
                              rs the'Wide Awakes in the North, by torchlight," but leavethe Union "in broad daylight"
                              :he next morning. The first Americans to secededid so with the \W'ideAwake movemenr
                              ,'n rheir minds, an emblem of the fawed Union they were feeing.a8
                                                   the winter southerners weighing disunion frequendy mentioned the
                              iovement. On January 9, theJachsonlVeehly                              "Large
                                                                                Mississippianwarned,          bodies of\7ide
     *ld                       \rvakes have been organized with a view to atrempt the invasion of South Carolina un-
                              :cr rhe sanction of the Federal flag." Mississippi secededlater that day. Even in the up-
                              :'cr South, many fence-sittersbalked at the more realistic concern of being trapped in a
                              . nion permanently dominated by the militant campaign organization. George Sanders-
                              ::c Kentucky Democrat later accusedof aiding Lincoln's assassins-informed New York-
lio::. .horvsan extremely            "The
d. r*.rkes to the W'hite      ::r.         South looks ro your military and militant'lfide Awakes, ro your banners,your
ly          House,"
                  Nou. I,          -
                                      Srrong, Diary of GeorgeTlmpleton Strong ed. Nevins and Thomas, 57.
                                   ' ''The
                                           Earthquake," Lowell Daily Citizen and News, Oct. 8, 1860.
                                      Ceorge P Bissell Abraham Lincoln, Dec. J0, I 860, Lincoln Papers,
                                                       to                                                 availableonline at American Memorv.
                              :--.;              Intelligence,"Neu YorkHerald, Oct. 20, 1860; "StateContention,'i
                                -;,i:ton Courien Dec22, 1860.
t   -

        378                             The Journal of American History                           2009
                                                                                                                Lincoln anc
        speeches,   your press,and your votes, and not to what Mr. Lincoln may say or do after his
        election." Fear of the \7'ide Awakes-as an invading army, recipients of patronage, or per-
        manent campaigners-was a major factor in many southerners' calculus of
            \(hen the war began, rhe movement supplied some of the Union's earliest and most ea-
        ger volunteers. Just three days after the firing on Fort Sumter, thousands of\fide Awakes
        in Philadelphia and lVashington began to train secretly as a paramilitary force. In St.
        Louis, the Republican congressman       FrancisPrestonBlairJr. armed companiesof German
               Awakes and ordered them to capture the pro-secessionMissouri State Militia based
        ar Camp Jackson. The bloody confrontation that followed left twenty-eight dead and
                                                                                                                Dorothy Ross
        sparked the extremely brutal fighting that engulfed Missouri for the next three years. It
        is not possible to know what percentage of \fide Awake members fought in the war, but
        scatrered evidence suggeststhat their participation was remarkably high. Eighty percent                 In the history of emanc
        of the original Hartford company served,compared to about half of eligible Northerners.                 1960semancipation has
        All but two of the \7ide Awakes quoted in this study                                          but growing triumPh oi
                 "young                                                                                         a progressivenational na
            The           men for war" were surprisingly nearsighted. Though the \fide Awakes
        were driven by the national experiences of their generation and were participating in a                 srory asprophetic and ul
        campaign for federal office, they rarely noticed the impact of their political war games.               ro acceptthat account; ut
        Later, many members would claim that their militarism showed that they had predicted                    etqel{lal to emanciPadon
        the Civil'War, but at the time they barely saw it coming. Instead, the Vide Awakes were                 sle for racial equality, th

        a group of young men playing with a very dangerous symbol. Their militarism became                      nghts ln endlng slaverv
        a runaway metaphor, crashing through the divide between politics and culture, election                  oGithe last half centun',
        and war. The surprising and inadvertent power of the movement provesthat, in the words                  if we ignore the comPlex,
        of the New YorhHerald,          fact is all people are public characters themselves."5r                 .\s Edward L. Ayers sug
            Though the consequences of their metaphor were unintentional, the Wide Awakes                       ,.conCiiing the great ano
        chose it deliberately. The campaignt militaristic symbolism declared their generationt at-              liberty." It distorts our u
        titudes toward partisan combat. Throughout their adolescencethey watched the Vhigs                      moment of their intert*'i
        die, the Know-Nothings rise and fall, the Democracy split itself; and a new party, barely                   The nation, of course
        six years old, poised to win the presidency. Club members were reared on stark notions                  rvhen slavery was abolish
        of competition in an age of ephemeral organizations. The \fide Awake generation was                      Union, and the war is al'
        coming to seepolitics as a deadly zero-sum game, and military metaphors acknowledged                    srruction amendments' I
        that a parry might be able to massacreits rivals. That was what Seward meant when he                    cal factor in its own righ
        joked that          bur Republicanswill be born in the United Statesafter the year 1860."               of emancipation. Humar
        \Tearing shiny black capesand practicing infantry drills had nothing to do with preparing                terestsand fears but also
        for civil war; instead, the symbolism reflected the hope that the Republican party might                 rhe abolition of slaver.vir
        finally finish offthe northern Democracy. The'Sfide Awakes' story shows that campaign                    with that value in view.
        metaphors are nor empry hoopla, but rather display the intimate relationship between                     abolition of slaveryand,
        citizens and their politics.52
                                                                                                                Dorothy Ross is Arthur O. lorr
                                                                                                                      She would like to thank In I
                                                                                                                i h a l l e n g i n gc o m m e n t so n t h i s r
                                                                                                                      Readersmay conmct Rossa

                                                                                                                     ' An influential source oitl
                                                                                                                 'F-auahn: and realized in civil
                                                                                                                           Abolhionists and rhc .\.
           ae "BytheTelegraph,"JacksonVeehlMississippian,Jan.g,   1861;"GeorgeSandersontheSequencesofSouthern     son, Tie Abolitionist Legaq: kt
        Secession,"Tii-\Yeehly Charbston Courier Nov. 8, 1860.                                                   Cm of Freedam: Tbe Ciuil Wa, ,
           50 BabimoreSun,Aprill5, 1860; Rathbun,"''S?ideAwakes,"'335,328l'Gallagher,ConfedzrateW'ar,29.                 "1Vorrying
                                                                                                                 -\yeri,              about the Ci
           5r "The Prince of 'Wales,"New YorhHaald, Sept. 25, 1860.                                              tlthaca, 1998), 145-66' esP.l5
           52 "Mr. Seward to the Wide Awakes," Miluauhee Daily Sentinel, Sept. 10, 1860.                          rJune 1989), 214-18.



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