United States presidential election, 1860

United States presidential election, 1860

Infobox Election
election_name = United States presidential election, 1860
country = United States
type = presidential
ongoing = no
previous_election = United States presidential election, 1856
previous_year = 1856
next_election = United States presidential election, 1864
next_year = 1864
election_date = November 6, 1860

nominee1 = Abraham Lincoln
party1 = Republican Party (United States)
home_state1 = Illinois
running_mate1 = Hannibal Hamlin
electoral_vote1 = 180
states_carried1 = 18
popular_vote1 = 1,865,908
percentage1 = 39.8%

nominee2 = John C. Breckinridge
party2 = Southern Democratic (United States)
home_state2 = Kentucky
running_mate2 = Joseph Lane
electoral_vote2 = 72
states_carried2 = 11
popular_vote2 = 848,019
percentage2 = 18.1%

nominee4 = John Bell
party4 = Constitutional Union Party (United States)
home_state4 = Tennessee
running_mate4 = Edward Everett
electoral_vote4 = 39
states_carried4 = 3
popular_vote4 = 590,901
percentage4 = 12.6%

nominee5 = Stephen A. Douglas
party5 = Northern Democratic (United States)
home_state5 = Illinois
running_mate5 = Herschel Vespasian Johnson
states_carried5 = 1
electoral_vote5 = 12
popular_vote5 = 1,380,202
percentage5 = 29.5%

map_size = 350px
map_caption = Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Lincoln/Hamlin, spring green denotes those won by Breckinridge/Lane, orange denotes those won by Bell/Everett, and blue-green denotes those won by Douglas/Johnson. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
title = President
before_election = James Buchanan
before_party = Democratic Party (United States)
after_election = Abraham Lincoln
after_party = Republican Party (United States)

The United States presidential election of 1860 set the stage for the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout most of the 1850s on questions of states' rights and slavery in the territories. In 1860 this issue finally came to a head, fracturing the formerly dominant Democratic Party into Southern and Northern factions and bringing Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to power without the support of a single Southern State.

The immediate result of Lincoln's victory was declarations of secession by South Carolina and other states, which were rejected as illegal by the then-current President, James Buchanan and President-elect Abraham Lincoln.Fact|date=January 2008


The origins of the American Civil War lay in the complex issues of slavery, competing understandings of federalism, party politics, expansionism, sectionalism, tariffs, economics and modernization in the Antebellum Period.

After the Mexican-American War, the issue of slavery in the new territories led to the Compromise of 1850. While the compromise averted an immediate political crisis, it did not permanently resolve the issue of the Slave power (the power of slaveholders to control the national government).

Amid the emergence of increasingly virulent and hostile sectional ideologies in national politics, the collapse of the old Second Party System in the 1850s hampered efforts of the politicians to reach yet one more compromise. The compromise that was reached (the Kansas-Nebraska Act) outraged many northerners. In the 1850s, with the rise of the Republican Party, the first major party with no appeal in the South, the industrializing North and agrarian Midwest became committed to the economic ethos of free-labor industrial capitalism.


Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates were:
* Edward Bates, former U.S. representative from Missouri
* Simon Cameron, U.S. senator from Pennsylvania
* Salmon P. Chase, Governor of Ohio
* Abraham Lincoln, former U.S. representative from Illinois
* William H. Seward, U.S. senator from New York

Candidate gallery

The Republican National Convention met in mid-May, after the Democrats had been forced to adjourn their convention in Charleston. With the Democrats in disarray and with a sweep of the Northern states possible, the Republicans were confident going into their convention in Chicago. William H. Seward of New York was considered the front runner, followed by Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, and Missouri's Edward Bates.

As the convention developed, however, it was revealed that Seward, Chase, and Bates had each alienated factions of the Republican Party. Delegates were concerned that Seward was too closely identified with the radical wing of the party, and his moves toward the center had alienated the radicals. Chase, a former Democrat, had alienated many of the former Whigs by his coalition with the Democrats in the late 1840s, had opposed tariffs demanded by Pennsylvania, and critically, had opposition from his own delegation from Ohio. Bates outlined his positions on extension of slavery into the territories and equal constitutional rights for all citizens, positions that alienated his supporters in the border states and southern conservatives. German-Americans in the party opposed Bates because of his past association with the Know-Nothings.

Since it was essential to carry the West, and because Lincoln had a national reputation from his debates and speeches as the most articulate moderate, he won the party's nomination on the third ballot on May 16, 1860.

Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for vice president, defeating Cassius M. Clay of Missouri.

The party platform clearly stated that slavery would not be allowed to spread any further, and it also promised that tariffs protecting industry would be imposed. The party promised a homestead law granting free farm land in the West to settlers. These provisions were highly unpopular in the South.

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates
* Daniel S. Dickinson, former U.S. senator from New York
* Stephen A. Douglas, U.S. senator and candidate for the 1852 and 1856 nominations from Illinois
* James Guthrie, former Secretary of Treasury from Kentucky
* Robert M.T. Hunter, U.S. senator from Virginia
* Andrew Johnson, U.S. senator from Tennessee
* Joseph Lane, U.S. senator from Oregon
* Horatio Seymour, former Governor of New York

The Democratic Party was divided over the issue of slavery. At the convention in Charleston in April 1860, 50 southern Democrats walked out over a platform dispute.

Six candidates were nominated: Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, Joseph Lane of Oregon, James Guthrie of Kentucky, and Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter of Virginia. Douglas, a moderate on the slavery issue who favored "popular sovereignty", was ahead on the first ballot, needing 57 more votes. On the 57th ballot, Douglas was still ahead, but still 50 votes short of nomination. In desperation, on May 3 the delegates agreed to stop voting and adjourn the convention.

The Democrats convened again at the Front Street Theater in Baltimore, Maryland on June 18. This time 110 southern delegates (led by “Fire-Eaters”) walked out when the convention would not adopt a resolution supporting extending slavery into territories whose voters did not want it. After many ballots, the remaining Democrats nominated the ticket of Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois for President. Benjamin Fitzpatrick was nominated for vice president, but he refused the nomination. The nomination ultimately went to Herschel Vespasian Johnson of Georgia.

The Southern Democrats reconvened in Richmond, Virginia, and on June 28 nominated the pro-slavery incumbent Vice President, John Cabell Breckinridge of Kentucky, for President, and Joseph Lane of Oregon for Vice President at the Maryland Institute, in Baltimore.

Candidate Gallery

Constitutional Union Party nomination

Die-hard former Whigs and Know-Nothings who felt they could support neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party formed the Constitutional Union Party, nominating John Bell of Tennessee for president over Governor Sam Houston of Texas on the second ballot. Edward Everett was nominated for vice president at the convention in Baltimore on May 9, 1860 (one week before Lincoln was nominated).

John Bell was a former Whig who had opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Lecompton Constitution. Edward Everett had been president of Harvard University and Secretary of State in the Fillmore administration. The party platform advocated compromise to save the Union, with the slogan "the Union as it is, and the Constitution as it is." [ [http://dig.lib.niu.edu/message/candidates-douglas.html Getting the Message Out! Stephen A. Douglas] ]

General election


The contest in the North was between Lincoln and Douglas, but only the latter took to the stump and gave speeches and interviews. In the South, John Breckenridge and John Bell were the main rivals, but Douglas had an important presence in southern cities, especially among Irish Americans.Fact|date=May 2007 Fusion tickets of the non-Republicans developed in New York and Rhode Island, and partially in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (the northern state in which Breckenridge made the best showing).

Stephen Douglas was the first presidential candidate in history to undertake a nationwide speaking tour. He traveled to the South where he did not expect to win many electoral votes, but he spoke for the maintenance of the Union. The dispute over the Dred Scott case had helped the Republicans easily dominate the Northern states' congressional delegations, allowing that party, although a newcomer on the political scene, easily to spread its popular influence.

The 1860 campaign was less frenzied than 1856, when the Republicans had crusaded zealously, and their opponents counter-crusaded with warnings of civil war. In 1860 every observer calculated the Republicans had an almost unbeatable advantage in the electoral college, since they dominated almost every northern state. Republicans felt victory at hand, and used para-military campaign organizations like the Wide Awakes to rally their supporters. See American election campaigns in the 19th century for campaign techniques.

Abraham Lincoln's December 1, 1859 visit to Kansas has been recorded by the Kansas History Online service. [ [http://www.kansashistoryonline.org/ksh/ArticlePage.asp?artid=468 Kansas History ONLINE] ]


The election was held on November 6. It was noteworthy for the exaggerated sectionalism of the vote, with Lincoln not even on the ballot in nine Southern states - and winning only two [St. Louis County, Missouri and Gasconade County, Missouri according to http://www.missouridivision-scv.org/election.htm] of 996 counties in the entire South. [ [http://elections.harpweek.com/1860/Overview-1860-2.htm#results HarpWeek | Elections | 1860 Overview] ] (In the 1856 election, the Republican candidate for president had received no votes in 13 of the 15 slave states.) In the six states still permitting slavery where he was on the ballot, he came in fourth in every state except Delaware (3rd). Breckinridge, who was the sitting Vice-President of the United States and the only candidate to later support secession, won all the states that would form the Confederacy except Virginia and Tennessee. Breckenridge also lost in the future border states of Missouri and Kentucky (his home state), but won the states of Delaware and Maryland (both of which also still permitted slavery) by pluralities.

Lincoln won an electoral majority without an absolute majority of total popular votes. While Lincoln captured less than 40% of the popular vote, the divisions of the nation allowed him to capture 17 states plus four electoral votes in New Jersey, for a total of 180 electoral votes. Although the three-way split of the non-Republican vote confuses the issue, the vote split was irrelevant to Lincoln's victory because he would have won an outright majority in the electoral vote, 169-134, even if the 60% of voters who supported other candidates united behind a single candidate. Except for California, Oregon, and New Jersey, Lincoln won a popular majority in every state that cast its electoral votes for him. [ [http://www.etymonline.com/cw/1860.htm 1860 election] ] Only in California, Oregon, and Illinois was Lincoln's victory margin less than seven percent.

Stephen Douglas finished second in the popular vote, but because his support was relatively evenly distributed between both northern and southern states he garnered only Missouri's nine electoral votes and three of seven electoral votes in New Jersey, good for fourth place. Bell won Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia's electors, while Breckenridge won every other slave state except Missouri.

Contrary to popular myth, Lincoln was not a third party candidate. The Republicans had already established themselves as the second major party in the 1856 election by coming in second in that race.

The voter turnout rate in 1860 was the second-highest on record (81.2%, second only to 1876, with 81.8%). The Fusion ticket of non-Republicans drew 595,846 votes. [ [http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/outlines/election.html Vshadow: Lincoln's Election] ]

Source (Popular Vote): Leip PV source| year=1860| as of=July 27, 2005

Source (Electoral Vote): National Archives EV source| year=1860| as of=July 31, 2005

(a) "The popular vote figures exclude South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote."

Results by state

See also

* American election campaigns in the 19th century
* History of the United States (1849–1865)
* History of the United States Democratic Party
* History of the United States Republican Party
* Third Party System
* United States House elections, 1860
* Wide Awakes


* Daniel W. Crofts; "Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis" University of North Carolina Press, 1989
* David Herbert Donald. "Lincoln" (1999) ISBN 0-684-82535-X, standard biography
* Dwight Lowell Dumond, ed., "Southern Editorials on Secession" (1931), contains hundreds of well-chosen editorials from the 1860 presidential campaign and the secession crisis in both the upper and lower South
*, analyzes factions inside new party
* Robert W Johannsen, "Stephen A. Douglas" Oxford University Press, 1973, standard biography
* Marc W. Kruman, "Parties and Politics in North Carolina, 1836-1865" (Louisiana State University Press, 1983), pages 180-221
* Luthin, Reinhard H. "The First Lincoln Campaign" (1944), along with Nevins, the most detailed narrative of the election
* McPherson, James M. "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" (1988). Pulitzer Prize winner surveys all aspects of the era
* 2 vols. the most detailed narrative; covers 1857–61
* Roy Franklin Nichols. "The Disruption of American Democracy" (1948), pp 348-506, focused on the Democratic party
* H. Parks, "John Bell of Tennessee" (Louisiana State University Press, 1950), standard biography
* Howard Cecil Perkins, ed., "Northern Editorials on Secession," 2 vols. (1942), reprints hundreds of editorials
* vol. 2, ch. 11. highly detailed narrative covering 1856–60
*, focus on immediate aftermath of election


External links

* [http://www.multied.com/elections/1860Pop.html 1860 election: State-by-state Popular vote results]
* [http://geoelections.free.fr/USA/elec_comtes/1860.htm 1860 popular vote by counties]
* [http://www.RangeVoting.org/FunnyElections.html Wrong way elections table] at the [http://www.RangeVoting.org Center for Range Voting]
* [http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/Background/BackgroundElection.html Election of 1860]
* [http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/elections/maps/1860.gifElectoral Map from 1860]
* [http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/outlines/election.html Lincoln's election - details]
* [http://members.tripod.com/~greatamericanhistory/gr02010.htm Report on 1860 Republican convention]
* [http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/histryotln/conflict.htm U.S. Department of State infoUSA site]
* [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=58519 Overview of Constitutional Union National Convention]
* [http://www.msu.edu/~sheppa28/elections.html#1860 How close was the 1860 election?] - Michael Sheppard, Michigan State University
* [http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/presidents/lincoln/ Abraham Lincoln: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress]
* [http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/repub.html 1860 Republican Platform]

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