The Elections of 1860 and 1864


Abraham Lincoln (180 electoral votes)
John Breckenridge (72 electoral votes)
John Bell 39 (electoral votes)
Stephen Douglas (12 electoral votes)

Abraham Lincoln (212 electoral votes)
George McClellan (21 electoral votes)

Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 Republican nomination over more prominent candidates like Salmon Chase and William Seward on the strength of his debate performance in the 1858 Illinois Senate race against Stephen A. Douglas.  Douglas, the champion of popular sovereignty, expected to be the Democratic candidate.  But he fell out with southern Democrats over an ambiguity in previous party platforms: whether popular sovereignty could decide for or against slavery at the territorial stage or only at the point of statehood.  When Douglas refused to concede that territorial legislatures could not restrict slavery, Southern delegates seceded from the party convention and nominated their own candidate, Vice President John Breckenridge of Kentucky.  John Bell of Connecticut ran on a vague platform of upholding constitutional principles.  Lincoln won the electoral votes of all the non-slaveholding states (with the exception of three New Jersey votes that went to Douglas).  Secession and Civil War followed.  In 1864, Lincoln ran for reelection against George McClellan, a general he had dismissed for failing to prosecute the war vigorously.  The Democrats criticized Lincoln’s conduct of the war and his Emancipation Proclamation.  Even Lincoln did not expect to win reelection until Union victories at Mobile, Atlanta, and the Shenandoah Valley revived northern morale.  The votes of Union soldiers who were furloughed in time for the election went strongly in favor of Lincoln and against their former general.

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