Election of 1860

Election of 1860

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The Democratic Party was in disarray in 1860 when they convened in Charleston, South Carolina to choose their presidential candidate. Southern elements insisted that the nominating convention make a strong statement supporting slavery in the territories. Western elements, however, opposed that stance and argued for an endorsement of Popular Sovereignty. The latter position prevailed and the Southern delegates walked out.The Northern Democrats later met in Baltimore, Maryland, and nominated Stephen A. Douglas. Following the violence in "Bleeding Kansas," Douglas had lost much support within the party; however, he had reclaimed his prominence by denouncing Buchanan and the Lecompton constitution in 1858.The Southern Democrats reconvened in Richmond, Virginia and nominated John C. A moderate position was sought by the Constitutional Union Party, which nominated John Bell. The party, composed mostly of former Whigs, enjoyed some strength in the Border States, but lacked any semblance of vigor and was dubbed the "Old Gentlemen's Party."William H. Seward confidently anticipated the nomination from the Republican Party in 1860. Included in the platform were calls for a moderately higher tariff, federally sponsored internal improvements, a homestead bill and federal assistance for a transcontinental railroad to be built over the central route. On slavery, the Republicans proclaimed that each state could decide the issue within its own borders and that no one (Congress or the territorial legislatures) could legalize slavery in the territories.Abraham Lincoln was a respected state politician in Illinois. They lined up votes with promises of patronage and jammed the convention with Lincoln supporters.During the campaign, Lincoln ventured into the South where he preached the value of the Union. In almost the same breath he also warned against secession and pledged that he would, if necessary, act with the conviction of Andrew Jackson in the Nullification Crisis almost 30 years earlier.Lincoln's strength was confined to the populous Northern states, but he won a decisive victory in the Electoral College. Douglas garnered an impressive popular vote, but barely made a showing in the electoral tally.

Election of 1860


Electoral Vote


Abraham Lincoln (Illinois)
Hannibal Hamlin (Maine)




Stephen A. Douglas (Illinois)
Herschel V. Johnson (Ga.)




John C. Breckinridge (Ky.)
Joseph Lane (Oregon)

Southern (Independent) Democrat



John Bell (Tennessee)
Edward Everett (Mass.)

Constitutional Union



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