150 years ago this week in November, 1860, the country experienced an election like no other; perhaps the Election of 1860 was one of the most important and decisive election in the history of our Country.
The candidates on the ballot in the state of Arkansas included Stephan A. Douglas (5,357 votes), John Bell (20,63 votes), and John C. Breckenridge, whose 28,732 votes landed him 53.1% of the total votes. It was clear: The State of Arkansas cast her lot with Breckenridge. Lincoln’s name was not seen on the ballot in the Southern states, not even in Arkansas.
Below is a primary source document found in the diary of a school teacher at St. John’s College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Prior to the Civil War, Ralph Leland Goodrich taught students from prominent families in high society, including the son of soon-to-be Governor Henry Massie Rector. Following is an excerpt from his November 6, 1860 entry: “Election. They think the State will go for Breckinridge. Went down the street [and] put letter in [post] office to Austin. Called on Mr. Mathews. [We] have 33 scholars in all now.”
It is not until three days later that the news traveled to Arkansas that Goodrich notes in an excerpt from his November 9, 1860 entry, “Went to school. Gave a holiday [to the scholars]. Went down the street [and] heard that New York had gone for Lincoln.”
This news had to have went over like the proverbial lead balloon in Arkansas. While being taken advantage of in mid-nineteenth century politics, the South did not accept the news of Lincoln winning the race. Because of this news, the Nation split; South Carolina secession becomes imminent and Arkansas braces for War. The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War begins!