The torchlight processions of the Wide Awakes presented a rare moment of youthful exuberance in a nation on the verge of the Civil War. Many of the young men parading in their Wide Awake campaign gear that fall would be marching in army uniforms the following summer.
- Warren Ohio Western Reserve Chronicle, October 24, 1860: A news article contained a remarkable description of Lincoln supporters arriving for a torchlight parade: "Most of the Wide Awakes were on the open cars, and as their lamps were all lighted, as the train approached, it looked like a huge comet with a tail of fire."
- Cleveland Morning Leader, October 29, 1860: An advertisement for a Wide Awake gathering featured an illustration of young men in campaign uniforms.
- Holmes County, Ohio, Republican, October 25, 1860: A story about a Wide Awake parade in the nation's capital noted that marchers were prepared to defend themselves, as they "not only had lanterns in their hands, but revolvers in their pockets."
- The Staunton, Virginia, Spectator, October 30, 1860: In the South, the Wide Awakes were viewed as a threat, and in South Carolina, a hotbed of secessionist rhetoric, a call went out to raise military units.
Note: The links above will lead to article excerpts at the Library of Congress's Chronicling America archive of vintage newspapers. From the excerpt page you can click the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper.
- Vintage Images: Lincoln's 1860 Campaign
- Lincoln's Ax: Reality of the Rail Splitter
- The Election of 1860
Illustration: Newspaper advertisement depicting Wide Awake uniforms and torches/Library of Congress
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