Date of this Version
Published in ETHNIC VOTERS AND THE ELECTION OF LINCOLN, Edited with an introduction by FREDERICK C. LUEBKE, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS • LINCOLN, 1971
A twofold purpose informs this anthology of essays on ethnic voters in the presidential election of 1860. First, it gathers together a great quantity of factual information about immigrants and politics on the eve of the Civil War. Naturally, the Germans receive the greatest amount of attention. Not only did they rival the Irish in numbers in 1860. but they were also the most diverse ethnic group in America. The essays of this volume also offer much data about politicians and their perceptions of the democratic process, about political parties and the social bases of their support, and about political campaigning in the nineteenth century. Largely based on local sources, they offer impressive evidence that a large bloc within the American electorate was basically unmoved by the great national debates over slavery and sectional interest that plunged this nation into four years of bloody strife.
Second, and perhaps more important. the essays document the evolution of the historical concepts and methods that have undergirded the writing of ethnic political history during the past half century. Present.day studies in the history of immigrant political behavior differ radically from their predecessors in their assumptions about ethnicity, its components and their relative importance; the unity of ethnic groups and their place in American society; political issues and their impact upon the electorate; the sources of ethnic political history; and the methods used to discover and interpret data, both old and new.