Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861


Were there three parties in 1860?

Actually there were four. The Republicans nominated Lincoln; the Northern Democrats nominated Douglas; the Southern Democrats nominated John Breckinridge; and a brand-new group, named the Constitutional Union Party, nominated John Bell (1797–1869). One has to look back all the way to 1824—the year that Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams were the main contestants—to find a political year with so much activity and controversy.

John Bell was nominated for president, and Edward Everett (1794–1865), an orator who had previously served as chaplain to the U.S. Senate, was nominated for vice president. The Constitutional Union Party was formed out of a desperate effort to prevent the nation from disintegrating; everyone could see that Northern, Southern, and Western states were on the verge of a great separation.


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