His soul is marching on.

So here it is, the end of December, 1859. John Brown has been dead for weeks but the fuze he lit at Harpers Ferry continues to burn. Across the south, slaveowners who were always alert for the whiff of rebellion are beginning to reach new heights of paranoia. Sectional tensions after the bloodshed in Kansas (in which Brown had his part) were already running high, and here! Here was proof that abolitionists intended to see Southern whites murdered in their beds.

The still-young Republican Party, founded partly on abolitionist principles, moved to distance itself from Brown, while the Democratic party began to split down the middle like a rock split by ice. To top it all off, the country was about to enter an election year.

The Republicans would hold only their second nominating convention in May of 1860, but as 1859 drew to a close they were still casting about for candidates. They would eventually put 13 on the ballot at their convention. Among them were Charles Sumner, who had been beaten bloody by Preston Brooks four years earlier; and a Kentucky lawyer who had made his home in Illinois, named Abraham Lincoln.

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