The October 12, 1860 New York Times editorializes about the reaction to the Republican victories, taking a skeptical stance toward secession:
The Democracy, and especially the official portion of the Democracy, in Washington, were never before so thoroughly overwhelmed with a sense of ruin as at the present moment; and the reflection that the blow comes from the old Keystone State adds poignancy to despair. In all former defeats there was still hope of resurrection. But now they sink to rise no more.
The first impulse of the Southern ultraists who hold office here, in this hour of their calamity, is to threaten a dissolution of the Union. Many of them have threatened to take up arms in vindication of Southern rights and honor. But these ebullitions of passion will soon pass away, and not one in a hundred of them but will be glad to find rest in Abraham’s bosom. I apprehend that the aphorism of JEFFERSON will still hold good during the next four years, viz.: that “few die and none resign.” So that if Southern men wish to get office under Mr. LINCOLN, they must prove their title clear by showing greater devotion to the Union than the gentlemen fire-eaters now here. This will not be hard to do.
The friends of BELL and DOUGLAS, I am proud to say, fight the battles of the Union bravely with their Breckinridge allies, and threaten to hang even the highest officials to the lamp-posts if they give the slightest symptoms of affinity with the disunion schemers. It is reported that a leading Bellite has uttered treasonable threats, but I will not believe the report upon hearsay. The Republicans are too delighted with the result to quarrel or threaten, and are taking things quite coolly, leaving the “irrepressible conflict” to be fought out among their opponents.
Meanwhile, Stephen Douglas could see from the results that he had no chance. Reportedly,
Douglas said to his secretary Sheridan, “Mr. Lincoln is the next president. We must try to save the Union. I will go South.”
He did, but he had little influence left in the South.