1860 United States presidential election
The 1860 United States presidential election was the 19th quadrennial presidential election. The Republican Party ticket of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin emerged triumphant. Lincoln’s election served as the primary catalyst of the American Civil War. The election led to the secession of seven states in the South before the inauguration and the outright secession of four more once the Civil War began.
About 1860 United States presidential election in brief
The 1860 United States presidential election was the 19th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 6, 1860. The Republican Party ticket of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin emerged triumphant. Lincoln’s election served as the primary catalyst of the American Civil War. The election of Lincoln led to the secession of seven states in the South before the inauguration and the outright secession of four more once the Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter. The 1860 presidential election conventions were unusually tumultuous, due in particular to a split in the Democratic Party that led to rival conventions. In the election, Lincoln received absolute majorities in states that combined for a majority of the electoral votes. He was the first of six consecutive victories for the Republican Party. The Republicans replaced the defunct Whig Party as the major opposition to the Democrats in the mid-to-late 1850s. The Democrats had become increasingly divided during the 1850s over sectional disagreements, primarily the extension of slavery into the territories. The incumbent president, James Buchanan, like his predecessor, Franklin Pierce, was a Northern Democrat with sympathies for the South. A group of former Whigs and Know Nothings formed the Constitutional Union Party, which sought to avoid secession by pushing aside the issue of slavery. The first 1860 Democratic National Convention adjourned in Charleston, South Carolina, without agreeing on a nominee, but a second convention in Baltimore, Maryland, nominated Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois for president. Despite minimal support in the North, Douglas won only the slave state of Missouri and three electors from the free state of New Jersey.
The Southern Democrats held their own convention and nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for president, who won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority in the electoral vote. The GOP nominated Lincoln, a moderate former one-term Representative from Illinois, as its standard-bearer. Lincoln won the party’s nomination for president on the third ballot on May 18, 1860, defeating Cassius Clay from Kentucky, who was surprised by his nomination and said he was neither expected nor desired to carry the party. The party’s platform promised not to interfere with slavery in the Southern states but opposed the further extension of slaves into the Western territories. As the convention developed, it was revealed that Seward, Chase, and Bates had each alienated factions of the GOP. 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 formerWhigs by his coalition with the Democrats. Bates outlined the equal rights for all citizens positions that alienated his supporters in the border states and German Americans in the West. He had also—critically—had opposition from his own delegation from Ohio. He opposed tariffs demanded by Pennsylvania, and he was opposed by his own Ohio delegation from the Ohio State Senate. The winner was Abraham Lincoln, who had a reputation from his debates and speeches as the most articulate and moderate.