PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1860
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1860
Election Day Date: November 6, 1860
Winning Ticket: Winning Ticket: Abraham Lincoln (51, Christian) , Hannibal Hamlin (51, Unitarian) Republican 1,855,993 39.65% 180 59.4%
- John Breckenridge (39, Presbyterian), Joseph Lane (59, )Southern Democrat 851,844 18.20% 72 23.8%
- John Bell (63, ), Edward Everett (66, Unitarian), Constitutional Union 590,946 12.62% 39 12.9%
- Stephen A. Douglas (47, Baptist), Herschel Johnson (48) Democratic 1,381,944 29.52% 12 4.0%
Other (+) – – 540 0.01% 0 0.0%
- The Fusion ticket of non-Republicans drew 595,846 votes.
Voter Turnout: 81.2%
The voter turnout rate in 1860 was the second-highest on record (81.2%, second only to 1876, with 81.8%).
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Speakers other than the candidate, campaign posters, leaflets, newspaper editorials
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
James Buchanan, John C Breckinridge, Democratic, 1857-1861
Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $4.35 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $82.11
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 5.29 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $138 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $2,606
Number of Daily Newspapers: 387 (1860)
Population: 31,513,000 (1860)
Method of Choosing Electors: Popular Vote
Method of Choosing Nominees: National party conventions
Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries): Slavery; extending slavery into the territories; states rights;
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Republican Party candidates:
- Abraham Lincoln, former U.S. representative Illinois
- William H. Seward, U.S. senator New York
- Simon Cameron, U.S. senator Pennsylvania
- Salmon P. Chase, former U.S. governor of Ohio
- Edward Bates, former U.S. representative Missouri
Democratic Party candidates:
- Stephen A. Douglas, U.S. senator from Illinois
- James Guthrie, former U.S. Treasury Secretary from Kentucky
- Robert M. T. Hunter, U.S. senator from Virginia
- Joseph Lane, U.S. senator from Oregon
- Daniel S. Dickinson, former U.S. senator from New York
- Andrew Johnson, U.S. senator from Tennessee
Third Party Candidates:
Constitutional Union Party candidates
- John Bell, former U.S. senator (Tennessee)
- Sam Houston, U.S. governor of Texas
- John J. Crittenden, U.S. senator from (Kentucky)
- Edward Everett, former U.S. senator (Massachusetts)
- William A. Graham, former U.S. senator (North Carolina)
- John McLean, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice (Ohio)
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
- Founders of the Republican Party such as Salmon P. Chase and William Henry Seward expected the nomination.
- Abraham Lincoln summed up his strategy in a letter to Samuel Galloway, March 24, 1860: “My name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to others—leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be compelled to give up their first love.”
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):
- Torch light processions of the Wide-Awakes and other paramilitary campaign organizations. There were an estimated 400,000 Wide Awakes, many wearing uniforms sold for $1.15 a piece. Republicans also marched as “Rail Splitters” or “Rail Maulers.”
- Douglas supporters marched as “The Ever Readys,” “Little Giants,” and “Douglas Invincibles.”
- Bell supporters: “Bell Ringers” “Minute Men” “Union Sentinels”
- Breckinridge supporters: “National Democratic Volunteers”
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- The Democratic Party splintered over slavery and sectionalism, resulting in different regional factions nominating their own candidates
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Republican Party May 16-18, 1860 The Wigwam; Chicago 3 Abraham Lincoln of Illinois Hannibal Hamlin of Maine
- Democratic Party, April 23-May 3, 1860 South Carolina Institute Hall; Charleston Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts 57 none (deadlocked) none (deadlocked); June 18, 1860 Front Street Theater, Baltimore, Maryland
Convention Turning Points:
Democratic National Convention:
April 23-May 3, 1860, South Carolina
- Wording the slavery plank was explosive and divisive.
- 50 Southern delegates (led by “Fire-Eaters”) walked out of the first Democratic convention, and more bolted from the second.
- Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois supported the 1857 Dred Scott case, nullifying the Missouri Compromise. The convention adjourned on May 3 without any decisions on the nominee.
June 18-23, 1860, Baltimore
- Two-thirds of the delegates convened and nominated Senator Douglas for president and Herschel V. Johnson, the former governor of Georgia, for vice president.
June 1860, Richmond, Virginia
- Southern delegates reconvened and nominated Vice President John C. Breckenridge for President and Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon for Vice President.
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Republican Party Nomination
Presidential 3rd ballot “corrected”
- Abraham Lincoln 102 181 231.5 349
- William H. Seward 173.5 184.5 180 111.5
- Simon Cameron 50.5 2 0 0
- Salmon P. Chase 49 42.5 24.5 2
- Edward Bates 48 35 22 0
- William L. Dayton 14 10 1 1
- John McLean 12 8 5 0.5
- Jacob Collamer 10 0 0 0
- Benjamin F. Wade 3 0 0 0
- Cassius M. Clay 0 2 1 1
- John C. Frémont 1 0 0 0
- John M. Read 1 0 0 0
- Charles Sumner 1 0 0 0
Vice Presidential 2nd ballot
- Hannibal Hamlin 194 367
- Cassius M. Clay 100.5 86
- John Hickman 57 13
- Andrew Horatio Reeder 51 0
- Nathaniel Prentice Banks 38.5 0
- Henry Winter Davis 8 0
- Sam Houston 6 0
- William L. Dayton 3 0
- John M. Reed 1 0
Democratic Party Nomination
Baltimore Presidential Ballot Ballot 1st 2nd
- Stephen A. Douglas 173.5 181.5
- James Guthrie 9 5.5
- John C. Breckinridge 5 7.5
- Horatio Seymour 1 0
- Thomas S. Bocock 1 0
- Daniel S. Dickinson 0.5 0
- Henry A. Wise 0.5 0
- Benjamin Fitzpatrick (refused nomination)
- Herschel Vespasian Johnson (Georgia)
Southern Presidential Ballot
- John C. Breckinridge 81
- Daniel S. Dickinson 24
Constitutional Union Party
- John Bell 68.5 138
- Sam Houston 57 69
- John J. Crittenden 28 1
- Edward Everett 25 9.5
- William A. Graham 22 18
- John McLean 21 1
- William C. Rives 13 0
- John M. Botts 9.5 7
- William L. Sharkey 7 8.5
- William L. Goggin 3 0
Convention Keynote Speaker:
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
- Democratic Party: The party platform stated that slavery would not be allowed to spread any further, abide by the Supreme Court’s decision on the Congress and authority over expansion of slavery; promised that tariffs protecting industry would be imposed, a Homestead Act granting free farmland in the West to settlers, and the funding of a transcontinental railroad. All of these provisions were unpopular in the South.
- Southern Democratic Party: Supported the expansion of slavery in the territories.
- Constitutional Union Party: Compromise to save the Union; Opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Lecompton Constitution.
General Election Controversies/Issues: Slavery in the territories
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
- Stephen A. Douglas went on the stump, but at first denied it, claiming he merely traveling around to visit his mother in upstate New York, attend his brother-in-law’s graduation from Harvard, and visit his father’s grave in Vermont.
- “Mr. Lincoln is the next President,” Douglas said after the Republicans swept the bellwether state elections in October. “We must try to save the Union. I will go South.”
- First issue oriented stumping tour.
- Republican Party: Abraham Lincoln made no speeches; the party managed the campaign. There were Republican speakers, campaign posters, leaflets, thousands of newspaper editorials. Watching it all from Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln’s law partner William H. Herndon reported that Lincoln was “bored – bored badly.”
- Democratic Party: Stephen Douglas was the first Presidential candidate to go on the stump; at the start of his month long tour he gave speeches and interviews they were non-partisan, but increasingly he discussed the issues. In October, after state elections indicated a Republican victory, Douglas decided to tour the Southern states and convince them not to secede should and when Lincoln would be elected President.
- First time a Presidential candidate’s wife accompanied her husband on the stump. Adele Douglas traveled with husband Stephen Douglas and sat on the train platform while he gave his speeches.
Major Personalities (General Election):
Turning Points (General Election):
- President Buchanan and former President Franklin Pierce decided to support Southern Democratic Party nominee John Breckinridge rather than Stephen Douglas
- The 1860 campaign featured two main contests, in the North and South.
- In the North, the campaign was between Lincoln and Douglas, in the South it was between John C. Breckinridge and John Bell.
- Douglas however had a presence in Southern cities, while Breckinridge made some headway in the North, particularly Pennsylvania.
- Fusion tickets of non-Republicans in the North nearly cost Lincoln New York’s electoral votes and the election
Popular Campaign Slogans:
- Republican Party (Lincoln): “Vote Yourself a Farm”; “The Republican ball is in motion”; “Honest Old Abe – the People’s Choice “; “the Rail-Splitter of 1830/The President of U.S. 1861”; “The Rail Splitter of the West”; (Lincoln/Hamlin): “Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Home”; “Protection to American Industry”
- Southern Democrats (Breckinridge): “Our Rights, The Constitution and the Union.”
- Constitutional Union Party (Bell) “the Union as it is, and the Constitution as it is;” “Liberty and Union/Now and Forever One and Inseparable/No North, No South, no East, No West, Nothing but Union.”
- Democratic Party (Douglas): “No Rail Splitter Can Split this Union”; “Popular Sovereignty/Non Intervention by the General Government in Any of the States or Territories of the Union/Let the People of Each Rule.”
- Republicans: “Lincoln and Liberty Too”; (to the tune of “The Old Gray Mare”): “Old Abe Lincoln/Came out of the wilderness/Out of the wilderness/out of the wilderness, Old Abe Lincoln/Came out of the wilderness/Down in Illinois.”
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
- “ADVERTISEMENT FOR A LOST BOY,” mocked Stephen A. Douglas’s charade, claiming he was visiting his mother rather than campaigning. “Talks a great deal and very loud – always about himself. Has an idea he is a candidate for the Presidency.”
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
- Republicans for Abraham Lincoln: $150,000
- Northern Democrats for Stephen Douglas: $50,000
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Abraham Lincoln, Early 1860
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “Breckinridge may not be for disunion, but all the disunionists are for Breckinridge.” Stephen Douglas
- Campaign Quotations: “It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces. And it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slaveholding nation or entirely a free-labor nation.” New York Senator William Seward, 1858
- “I am now in my sixty-ninth year and am heartily tired of my position as President.” James Buchanan
- “Douglas is going about peddling his opinions as a tin man peddles his wares. The only excuse for him is that since he is a small man, he has a right to be engaged in small business.” Jonesboro (Illinois) Gazette
Significant Book during the Campaign: Hinton Helper, Impending Crisis (1857).
Further Reading: David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (1996)
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- The 1860 Republican antislavery revolution – and the Civil War.
- March 6, 1857: U.S. Supreme Court announces its 7-2 majority decision in the Dred Scott case. Chief Justice Roger Taney declares blacks are not citizens and cannot sue; and federal and territorial governments cannot ban slavery within the territories.
- October 19-November 8 1857: Proslavery delegates convene to write a proslavery constitution in Lecompton.
- March 4, 1857: Proslavery factions force Governor Geary to resign after he announces he will oppose any proslavery state constitution that is not submitted to a popular vote.
- October 5, 1857: Kansas elects Governor Robert J. Walker and a Free State legislature
- December 21, 1857: Lecompton Constitution’s referendum, rigged to include slavery despite voter outcome is sent to Congress to consider.
- January 4, 1858: Kansas territory rejects the Lecompton Constitution by a vote of 10,226 to 138.
- March 23, 1858: “Senate votes to accept Kansas into the Union under the Lecompton Constitution after it has already been rejected in Kansas. The House votes to resubmit the Constitution to popular vote.”
- August 2, 1858: Third referendum on the Lecompton Constitution that Congress orders takes place. The voters reject it overwhelmingly 11,300-1,788.
- 1858: The Lincoln-Douglas debates.
- 1858-1859: Republicans take control of the House.
- March 12, 1859: “Southern Commercial Convention meets in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Southern slave owners advocate for the reopening of the African slave trade.”
- July 5, 1859: “Fourth and final Kansas Constitutional Convention convenes in Wyandotte, Kansas, to decide if Kansas will be a free or slave state and drafts a state constitution; the document prohibits slavery in the state.”
- October 4, 1859: “Kansas Constitution is ratified as an antislavery document by an overwhelming popular vote. A provisional state government is elected in December.”
- October 16, 1859: John Brown raids Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
- December 2, 1859: Authorities capture and hang Brown in Charles Town, Virginia, “for murder, conspiracy, and treason against the state of Virginia.”
- February 27, 1860: Abraham Lincoln gives a speech at Cooper Union in New York leads to his nomination and election to the Presidency.
- March 24, 1860: Abraham Lincoln sums up his strategy in a letter to Samuel Galloway: “My name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to others—leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be compelled to give up their first love.”
- May 9, 1860: Constitutional Union Party Convention convenes; party consists of former Whig and American party members. The convention nominates John Bell for the presidency and Edward Everett for the vice president.
- May 16-18, 1860: Republican Party National Convention convenes at the Wigwam, Chicago, Illinois, and nominates on the 3rd ballot Abraham Lincoln (Illinois) for President and Hannibal Hamlin (Maine) for Vice President.
- April 23-May 3, 1860: Democratic Party convenes in South Carolina Institute Hall; Charleston Caleb Cushing of Massachusetts serves as chairman. 57 none (deadlocked) none (deadlocked) 50 Southern delegates (led by “Fire-Eaters”) walk out of the first Democratic convention
- June 28? 18?, 1860: Democratic Party National Convention at the Front Street Theater, Baltimore, Maryland. Additional Southern senators bolt from the second convention. They reconvene at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore and nominate John C. Breckenridge for President and Joseph Lane for the vice president. The “platform supports slavery in the territories.”
- Abraham Lincoln makes no speeches; the party manages the campaign. There are Republican speakers, campaign posters, leaflets, thousands of newspaper editorials. Watching it all from Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln’s law partner William H. Herndon reports that Lincoln was “bored – bored badly.”
- President Buchanan and former President Franklin Pierce decide to support Southern Democratic Party nominee John Breckinridge rather than Stephen Douglas.
- In the North, the campaign is between Lincoln and Douglas, in the South it was between Breckinridge and John Bell.
- Stephen Douglas is the first Presidential candidate to go on the stump; he gives speeches and interviews. Stephen A. Douglas went on the stump, but at first denies it, claiming he merely was traveling around to visit his mother in upstate New York, attend his brother-in-law’s graduation from Harvard, and visit his father’s grave in Vermont.
- October 1860: After state elections indicated a Republican victory, Douglas decides to tour the Southern states and convince them not to secede should and when Lincoln would be elected President. “Mr. Lincoln is the next President,” Douglas said after the Republicans swept the bellwether state elections. “We must try to save the Union. I will go South.”
- November 6, 1860: Douglas has a presence in Southern cities, while Breckinridge makes some headway in the North, particularly Pennsylvania; Fusion tickets of non-Republicans in the North nearly cost Lincoln New York’s electoral votes and the election
- December 5, 1860: Presidential Electors cast the electoral votes in their state capitals.
- December 18, 1860: Crittenden Compromise, in attempt to prevent Southern secession Kentucky senator John Crittenden proposes extending slavery across the same line as the Missouri compromise, (36 30), a position Lincoln opposes.
- December 20, 1860: South Carolina unanimously votes to secede from the Union.
- February 13, 1861: Joint session of Congress assembles to count the electoral vote.
- January 9, 1861: “Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from Union.”
- January 10, 1861: “Florida secedes from Union.”
- January 11, 1861: “Alabama secedes from Union.”
- January 19, 1861: “Georgia secedes from Union.”
- January 26, 1861: “Louisiana secedes from Union.”
- January 29, 1861: “Kansas is admitted to the Union as the thirty-fourth state, entering as a free state.”
- February 4, 1861: “The Confederate States of America (CSA) is formed in Montgomery, Alabama, from seven secessionist states.”
- February 7, 1861: Kansas adopts a provisional constitution.
- February 9, 1861: Jefferson Davis is elected President of the CSA, and Alexander Stephens is elected vice president. The provisional Congress agrees to use all laws of the Unites States, except those that conflict with their constitution.
- February 18, 1861: “Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as President of the Confederacy. The capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama, will later be moved to Richmond, Virginia.”
- February 23, 1861: Texas secedes from Union.