In response to a post in the “Politics” section here are some campaign items from the 1860 presidential election. These pieces are from my private collection of political items that date from George Washington to the present. In 1860, the political system broke down over the same issues that lead to the Civil War. The Democratic Party divided over the issue of slavery, and the Republican Party emerged as a major force. There was also another group that ran a moderate candidate by anti-bellum standard. The Republicans The Republicans held their convention in Chicago. There Lincoln’s supporters used their “home field advantage,” packed the gallery with their supporters and took the presidential nomination away from former frontrunner, William Seward. Lincoln won the nomination on the third ballot. The delegates picked Maine senator, Hannibal Hamlin, as his running mate. The Democrats For the Democrats, 1860 would become a nightmare. Their first mistake was to hold their convention in Charlestown, South Carolina, which was in the heart of slave country. By now the radical Democrats were demanding a candidate who supported the spread of slavery unconditionally. Stephen Douglas was running on his Popular Sovereignty plan, which allowed the residents of a new state or territory to vote if they wanted slavery in their area. Despite the fact that this plan had blow up in his face in Kansas, Douglas still pushed for it. Douglas had a majority of the delegates, but he didn’t have the two-thirds majority that the he needed to win the nomination. The two-thirds rule gave the South a veto power over the nominee. Interesting the two-thirds rule would remain in effect until 1936 when the convention controlled by Franklin Roosevelt did away with it. Douglas led the voting for 57 ballots, but could not win the nomination. Democrats adjourned and agreed to meet again in Baltimore. At the Baltimore Convention, the radical delegates stayed away met elsewhere in the city. The remaining delegates nominated Douglas. Senator Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama received the vice presidential nomination, but he declined to run with Douglas. The delegates then selected Herschel V. Johnson for the second slot. Douglas finally had the nomination he had wanted since 1852, but with his party divided, his chances of winning were slight. The Southern Democrats The Radical Southern Democrats also met in Baltimore. The nominated John Breckinridge for president and Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon for vice president. Breckinridge was the sitting vice president in the James Buchanan administration. At age 35 in 1856, he was the youngest man ever elected to that office. The Constitutional Union Party The Constitutional Union Party also held its convention in Baltimore. Their membership included old line Whigs who had refused to join the new Republican Party (Lincoln was a former Whig) and ruminants of the American or “Know-Nothing” Party which had opposed immigration in the 1850s. They nominated John Bell over Texas Governor Sam Houston. Bell was a former senator, congressman and secretary of war in the Zachary Taylor administration. The second slot went to Edward Everett of Massachusetts. Bell supported slavery, but he did not support its extension into the territories and supported maintaining the Union. The Constitutional Unionists were called “the old gentlemen’s party” by their detractors. Their brief party platform stated that the constitution and the laws provided a proper base from which to deal with the problems the nation faced. The Election Results With the Democratic Party divided, Lincoln was the odds-on favorite to win. Lincoln won with 40% of the popular vote and 180 votes in the Electoral College. He did not get a single vote from below the Mason-Dixon Line, but he carried most of the delegate rich states in the North and Midwest. Breckenridge finished second in the Electoral College with 72 votes and 18% of the popular vote. All of his votes came from the deep South. Bell finished third with 39 Electoral votes and 13% of the popular vote. He won Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Douglas finished last with 12 Electoral votes, but he finished second in the popular vote with 29%. Douglas was the only national candidate. At a time when it was considered unseemly for a presidential candidate to ask for votes directly, Douglas went on the stump and even campaigned in the South, taking his life in his hands. In my next post I will post pictures of some campaign tokens that presented the major issues for each candidate.