The Youth Movement that Remade America.
This is the story about the liberal kids who formed an activism club which went viral, elected Lincoln, and started a war.
Today, the American electorate and political climate are deeply fractured. The political divisions are typified by a disgust with the political status quo amid a sense of having “awoken” to the realities of systemic racism and political corruption. Electorally, voters in the 18- to 29-year-old age group (Gen Z and the youngest millennials) are the sole cohort to vote for progressive change, which they do by an astonishing 28 point margin.
This situation parallels a zeitgeist which prevailed from the mid 1850s following the breakdown of the “compromise system” which had protected a status-quo that pleased only slave-holders. Northerners loathed that America’s westward expansion was scarred with continual capitulations to the slave power oligarchy of the South.
The Election of 1860 witnessed the sudden rise from this political disgust of the Wide Awakes – a militant group of young liberal Americans whose actions helped galvanize political disaffection into action. Made up of young people and immigrants – many of them first-time voters – these activists forged the identity of the Republican Party for a generation, they elected an outsider as President, and they mobilized the nation for a Civil War…which they helped win.