York Town Square

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York County straddled the Mason-Dixon line in Lincoln votes

Juan Calix, right, of Springettsbury Township, portraying Pvt. James H. Shirk of the 55th Massachusetts, sings the National Anthem at an Emancipation Proclamation Celebration at Martin Library. Voni Grimes, an award recipient at the observance, accompanies him on the harmonica.
A majority of York County residents did not like Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation when it was announced on Sept. 22, 1863, or when it became law 100 days later.
That was my conclusion delivered in a speech over the weekend at an EP observance sponsored by Crispus Attucks Association. The organization is raising funds for a soon-to-be-opened Underground Railroad museum at ex-slave and 19th-century York businessman William C. Goodridge’s former home.
I showed presidential election stats: Lincoln received only 43 percent of the York County vote in 1860 when Lincoln carried Pennsylvania and won the presidency. His three challengers scored the rest, and the York County largest vote-getter, John C. Breckinridge, also carried the South… .

When Lincoln issued the EP, both York-area Democratic newspapers blasted it, outgunning the lone Republican print voice.
The EP came a year before the 1864 election between Lincoln and George McClellan, a kind of referendum in York County and the nation on the document and popularity of the war.
That election, Lincoln received only 37 percent of the vote, and Lincoln again carried Pennsylvania and the United States.
I’ll soon write more about the political mood of York County during the Civil War, but here’s a bit more insight:
In 1860 when Lincoln scored only 43 percent of the vote in York County and 50 percent-plus in Pennsylvania, he gained on 3.6 percent of the tallies in the Southern city of Baltimore.
So York County showed all the characteristics of a border county in a border state.
Not too hot, not too cold.