Why Breckinridge in 1860
William G. Brownlow

Hon. John Driver, of Russell County, Alabama, an ardent Breckinridge man, and a member of the Charleston and Baltimore Conventions, says, in a published card over his signature, July 23, 1860, in defence of a dissolution of the Union, "To effect this object, we, THE DISUNION PARTY, DISRUPTED THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION AT CHARLESTON, AND AT BALTIMORE INDUCED OTHERS TO JOIN US BY OUR AGREEING TO SUPPORT MEN NOT ENTIRELY OF OUR SENTIMENTS!"

James D. Thomas, the Breckenridge elector for the Knox district, said at Maynardsville, on the 28th ultimo, that if the Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive Departments refuse protection to slave property, he and his party were for secession. He said that thing, and I presume he represents his party in Tennessee. Governor Harris is committed to the same odious and revolutionary doctrine. So are all the Disunion leaders in this State.

The Bell-and-Everett Elector in the State of Georgia, Colonel S. C. Elam, has renounced the Union ticket, and come out in a card for Breckinridge. Colonel Elam gives his reasons for the change; and I beg you to hear those reasons.

He says that Breckenridge and Lane stand even a slimmer chance than Bell and Everett. Then why does Colonel Elam leave us? He says that his "controlling reason" is that "THE BRECKENRIDGE PARTY IS PLEDGED TO DISSOLVE THE UNION IF LINCOLN IS ELECTED," and that "BRECKINRIDGE'S RUNNING RENDERS LINCOLN'S ELECTION CERTAIN." He thinks that "Douglas might be elected if Breckinridge was out of the way," but "Breckinridge couldn't beat Lincoln if Douglas was out of the way."

So here is the whole game of the Yanceyites. Colonel Elam has let the Disunion cat out of the bag. The Breckinridge party is pledged to dissolve the Union in a certain contingency, - the election of Lincoln. TO MAKE THAT CONTINGENCY CERTAIN, THEY ARE RUNNING BRECKINRIDGE.

Mr. Bell owns eighty-three slaves in his own right, and his wife owns just an equal number, - making in all one hundred and sixty-six, - and still he is sneeringly pointed to as unsound on the slavery question! Mr. Douglas owns no slaves, and never did in his own right, and is a Northern man; and he has an Electoral ticket in almost all of the Southern States. Mr. Breckinridge and family live in Lexington, and board at the Phoenix Hotel, and he votes in that city, regarding it as his home. For several years past he has returned no property for taxation, either real or personal, as appears from the tax-book, - and for the best reason in the world: he has none. He has a free colored woman as a nurse, and this is all the connection he has with slavery; and yet he is the pro-Slavery candidate for the Presidency, and is supported by the slave-code, slave-trade, and Disunion party, as the only man prepared to do justice to the South upon the question of the everlasting nigger!

Now, gentlemen and members of the club, I am about through with the remarks I intended to submit to you on this occasion. Candor requires me, as the contest is rapidly drawing to a close, to admit that the chances are that Mr. Lincoln will be elected. If so, this entire Breckinridge party in the South will go in for a Southern Confederacy. If I am living, - and I hope I may be, - I shall stand by the Union as long as there are five States that adhere to it. I will say more: I will go out of the Confederacy if the rebellious party sustain itself. Nay, I will say still more: I will sustain Lincoln if he will go to work to put down the great Southern mob that leads off in such a rebellion!

These are my sentiments, and these are my purposes; and I am no Abolitionist, but a Southern man. I expect to stand by this Union, and battle to sustain it, though Whiggery and Democracy, Slavery and Abolitionism, Southern rights and Northern wrongs, are all blown to the devil! I will never join in the outcry against the American Union in order to build up a corrupt Democratic party in the South, and to create offices in a new Government for an unprincipled pack of broken-down politicians, who have justly rendered themselves odious by stealing the public money. I may stand alone in the South; but I believe thousands and tens of thousands will stand by me, and, if need be, perish with me in the same cause.



Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession by W. G. Brownlow
George W. Childs, Philadelphia, 1862, pages 203-206.