Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1862

[The Election Results in the Northern States]

Source: MECW Volume 19, p. 263;
Written: on November 18, 1862;
First published: in Die Presse, November 23, 1862.

The elections have in fact been a defeat for the Washington government. The old leaders of the Democratic Party have skilfully exploited the dissatisfaction over the financial clumsiness and military ineptitude, and there is no doubt that the State of New York, officially in the hands of the Seymours, Woods and Bennetts, can become the centre of dangerous intrigues. At the same time, the practical importance of this reaction should not be exaggerated. The existing Republican House of Representatives continues, and its recently elected successors will not replace it until December 1863. For the time being, therefore, the elections are nothing more than a demonstration, so far as the Congress in Washington is concerned. No gubernatorial elections have been held except in New York. The Republican Party thus retains the leadership in the individual states. The electoral victories of the Republicans in Massachusetts, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan more or less balance the losses in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana.

A closer analysis of the “Democratic” gains leads to an entirely different result than the one trumpeted by the English papers. New York City, strongly corrupted by Irish rabble, actively engaged in the slave trade until recently, the seat of the American money market and full of holders of mortgages on Southern plantations, has always been decidedly “Democratic”, just as Liverpool is still Tory. The rural districts of New York State voted Republican this time, as they have since 1856, but not with the same fiery enthusiasm as in 1860. Moreover, a large part of their men entitled to vote is in the field. Reckoning the urban and rural districts together, the Democratic majority in New York State comes to only 8,000-10,000 votes.

In Pennsylvania, which has long wavered, first between Whigs... and Democrats, and later between Democrats and Republicans, the Democratic majority was only 3,500 votes. In Indiana it is still smaller, and in Ohio, where it numbers 8,000, the Democratic leaders known to sympathise with the South, such as the notorious Vallandigham, have lost their seats in Congress. The Irishman sees the Negro as a dangerous competitor. The efficient farmers in Indiana and Ohio hate the Negro almost as much as the slaveholder. He is a symbol, for them, of slavery and the humiliation of the working class, and the Democratic press threatens them daily with a flooding of their territories by “niggers.” In addition, the dissatisfaction with the miserable way the war in Virginia is being waged was strongest in those states which had provided the largest contingents of volunteers.

All this, however, is by no means the main thing. At the time Lincoln was elected (1860) there was no civil war, nor was the question of Negro emancipation on the order of the day. The Republican Party, then quite independent of the Abolitionist Party, aimed its 1860 electoral campaign solely at protesting against the extension of slavery into the Territories, but, at the same time, it proclaimed non-interference with the institution in the states where it already existed legally. If Lincoln had had Emancipation of the Slaves as his motto at that time, there can be no doubt that he would have been defeated. Any such slogan was vigorously rejected.

Matters were quite different in the latest election. The Republicans made common cause with the Abolitionists. They came out emphatically for immediate emancipation, whether for its own sake or as a means of ending the rebellion. If this circumstance is taken into account, the majority in favour of the government in Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa and Delaware, and the very significant minority vote it obtained in the states of New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, are equally surprising. Before the war such a result would have been impossible, even in Massachusetts. All that is needed now is energy, on the part of the government and of the Congress that meets next month, for the Abolitionists, now identical with the Republicans, to have the tipper hand everywhere, both morally and numerically. Louis Bonaparte’s hankering to intervene strengthens the Abolitionists’ case “from abroad”. The only danger lies in the retention of such generals as McClellan, who are, apart from their incompetence, avowed pro-slavery men.”