At one extreme were the proslavery Ultras, states’ rightists who favored secession. Their man was Claiborne Fox Jackson, a striving former state senator who had beaten the state’s leonine senator, Thomas Hart Benton, the leading opponent of slavery’s extension into the western territories. On the other extreme were “Unconditional Unionists,” largely St. Louis Germans (the state’s only reliable Republicans) who supported the Union regardless of circumstance. Their leader, Frank Blair, a congressman and friend of the president-elect (his brother, Montgomery, would soon sit in Lincoln’s cabinet), marshaled these Germans’ support as the party’s most reliable base. Of the 26,000 votes Lincoln received in all of the slave states, more than 60 percent came from Missouri, nearly all from Germans.
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