Page:The Republican Party (1920).djvu/35

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The Leadership of Lincoln

Chapter III

The Leadership of Lincoln

The crisis was at hand. The nation itself was at the parting of the ways. The Republican party also, after five years of partly tentative, partly formative endeavor had reached the point where it must definitively "find itself." It must adopt in the second national campaign which was before it the policy which would determine all its future destinies. The danger was in multiplicity of counsels. We have noted that it was composed of former members of three parties and that it included a large number of men of authoritative leadership. But among these, save on one or both of the paramount topics, there was far more disagreement than harmony. The supreme necessity was that some commanding leader should arise whose personality would draw all to him and therefore to one another, and who would be able to propound a policy upon which all could agree.

That leader was not lacking. In that crucial year of 1858 he came irresistibly to the fore. He had been among the earliest organizers of the party although by no means among the most conspicuous. Sumner, Seward, Trumbull, Giddings, Chase, Lovejoy, Bryant, Greeley and others were far more widely known than he. They were more experienced in public affairs. But they were not to be the leaders. While they hesitated, with divided counsels, Abraham Lincoln strode forward with the confidence of genius. With a prescience far surpassing that of any of his fellows he