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


What happened on Election Day?

Election Day fell on November 6 in 1860. Lincoln and his political group were in Springfield, Illinois, receiving and monitoring the results by telegraph. That he would win was almost certain, but the margin mattered, both to the candidate and to thirty-two million Americans who awaited the results.

Lincoln lost New York City (it was not yet divided into separate boroughs) by 33,290 to 62,293 for Stephen Douglas, but he won the all-important Empire State by 362,646 to 312,510. Months later, when he visited Manhattan, Lincoln joked that he was not the first choice of its people. Lincoln won the Keystone State of Pennsylvania by 270,170 to 176,435 for the so-called Fusion Ticket. Douglas won only 17,350 votes, and the Constitutional Union Party picked up 12,755. Lincoln took all the New England states and all the Western ones, save Indiana. On the West Coast, he took California by the relatively narrow margin of 38,646 to 37,349 for Douglas. John Breckinridge and the Southern Democrats did much better than anticipated in the Golden State, coming in third with 33,357. The story was quite different in the South, however.


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