The 1860 Election
In 1860 the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln as its
candidate for president. The Republican platform declared that
slavery could spread no farther, promised a tariff for the
protection of industry, and pledged the enactment of a law
granting free homesteads to settlers who would help in the
opening of the West. Southern Democrats, unwilling
in the wake of the Dred Scott case to accept Douglas's popular
sovereignty, split from the party and nominated Vice President
John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky for president. Stephen A.
Douglas was the nominee of northern Democrats. Diehard Whigs
from the border states, formed into the Constitutional Union
Party, nominated John C. Bell of Tennessee.
Lincoln and Douglas competed in the North, Breckenridge and
Bell in the South. Lincoln won only 39 percent of the popular
vote, but had a clear majority of 180 electoral votes, carrying
all 18 free states. Bell won Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia;
Breckenridge took the other slave states except for Missouri,
which was won by Douglas. Despite his poor showing, Douglas
trailed only Lincoln in the popular vote.
Questions with answers in bold:
1. Who was the Republican Party’s presidential candidate in 1860?
2. Which of the following was not part of the Republican platform?
3. Lincoln and Breckenridge competed strongly for votes in the North.
4. Who won the 1860 presidential election with only 39% of the popular vote, carrying all eighteen free states?
5. How might history have turned out differently, had Stephen A. Douglas won the presidential election?
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Text courtesy of the U.S. State Department, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005