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The Election of 1860 & Secession What part did sectionalism play in the election of 1860? Why did most of the South secede following the Republican Party.

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Presentation on theme: "The Election of 1860 & Secession What part did sectionalism play in the election of 1860? Why did most of the South secede following the Republican Party."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Election of 1860 & Secession What part did sectionalism play in the election of 1860? Why did most of the South secede following the Republican Party victory in the election of 1860? What was the northern response to secession? Why?

2 1854-1856… Whig party dissolution (split 1854, no candidate 1856…) Southern (proslavery), mostly former Whigs Northern (anti-slavery), nativists Democrats on brink of separation (sectionalism) Southern Northern Formation of the Republican Party (1854) Platform: free-soil, expansionist “grab bag” of party remnants Many believed that a civil war was inevitable— “the irrepressible conflict”

3 Interesting twists in 1856-1857… 79% of all voters cast ballot in 1856! Most voters (N & S) favor politicians who claim to speak for national, rather than sectional interests (Buchanan, Fremont) North had decided that threat posed by slavery expansion > threat posed by new immigrants (nativism subsides) John Brown’s Raid (1856)Brown’s Raid Caning of Charles Sumner (1856)Charles Sumner Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)


5 The Candidates, 1860 Southern Democrats: Nominated John Breckenridge (three DIFFERENT nominating conventions due to sectionalism) Platform called for slave code (protection) for territories Northern Democrats: Nominated Stephen Douglas Platform endorsed Freeport Doctrine Republicans: Nominated Abraham Lincoln (despite early favor of Seward) Platform denounced slavery but also Brown’s raid (get rid of “radical” image) Also promotes tariffs, homestead act, internal improvements (railroads) Did not believe South would secede, even if Lincoln won Constitutional Union party (S. Whigs/border-state nativists): Nominated John Bell Platform built on nativism and compromise on slavery



8 One of the first American Political magazines, Harper’s Weekly (A Journal of Civilization), was one of the first magazines that published political cartoons. One of the most popular and important political cartoons was named “The Political Quadrille: Music by Dred Scott”, released in the Weekly in 1860. “The Political Quadrille: Music by Dred Scott” was a very complex political cartoon. Center and most importantly, sat Dred Scott playing the fiddle. In the upper right hand corner, republican Abraham Lincoln dances with an African American woman which signified his party’s alignment with abolitionists. The upper left corner shows democrats John Breckinridge and James Buchanan dancing together. The lower left corner shows Stephen Douglas dancing with an old, worn-down Irishman which implied that Douglas was Catholic and backed Irish Immigrants. Finally, in the bottom right corner, the cartoonists John Bell dances with a Native American which implied the Bell was interested in the relationship with the Indians. So what does this cartoon tell us about the 1860 election? Dred Scott, sitting center and playing a fiddle, was used in this political cartoon to show the impact of the Dred Scott decision on the 1860 election. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 ruled that slavery could not be prohibited by the federal government or the territorial governments. This played a major role in the election, which is the reason why the cartoonists placed Dred Scott in the middle of all the candidates. By drawing the four major candidates of the 1860 election dancing and placing them around Dred Scott, the cartoonists implied that whoever was going to win the election was going to win it with how they viewed slavery and African Americans. In the end, Abraham Lincoln proved to be victorious. The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association says that Lincoln was able to win by "fusing anti-slavery nationalism to the interest of free society." Thus, his views on slavery helped win him the election. Source:



11 The Election of 1860 Republicans focused on corruption in Buchanan Administration Southern Democrats spread rumors of slave uprisings Douglas spent last weeks of campaign in South, warning against secession Lincoln won without receiving any Southern votes

12 Secession 80% average approval of secession in state conventions Declarations made it clear slavery was underlying cause Defense of secession based on 2 arguments: State sovereignty preceded national sovereignty Right of revolution


14 The Fire-Eaters: Edward Ruffin, Robert Barnwell Rhett & William Lowndes Yancey

15 Secession: Why 1860? South believed that they would no longer be represented equally because new Republican gov’t did not support their way of life (slave system) “The only hope for its preservation…is out of the Union.” SC, AL, MI had committed to secession if Lincoln won the election State convention held in SC Dec. 1860 leads other states (MI, FL, AL, GA, LA, TX) to secede Why not all South? Division between W/E parts of states

16 Northern Responses Buchanan denounced secession as unconstitutional, but said it couldn’t be stopped by force Blamed it on Republicans’ refusal to compromise Called for obedience to Fugitive Slave law, amendment to protect slavery & annexation of Cuba Lincoln said revolution was only a “moral right when exercised for a morally justifiable cause” Refused calls to compromise on slavery Rejected proposals to let the seceding states leave the Union Refused to give up federal powers over military forts in South (which CSA needed to become a nation) Radical Republicans preferred peaceful separation to any further compromises

17 The Confederate States of America Constitutional convention met in Montgomery, Ala. Feb. 4, 1861 Mostly copied U.S. Constitution Emphasized states’ rights Guaranteed protection of slavery Provisional government established: Jefferson Davis named President Alexander Stephens named Vice President

18 Last-Ditch Compromise Attempts Crittenden Compromise in Senate offered 6 unrepealable amendments House proposed 3 compromises: Admitting New Mexico as slave state Resolution calling for obedience to Fugitive Slave law & repeal of personal liberty laws 13 th Amendment to guarantee slavery against any future interference

19 The War Begins Lincoln’s decision to resupply Ft. Sumter was stroke of geniusFt. Sumter Fulfilled Inaugural Address pledge to hold federal property in rebel states Forced rebels to make decision to start war Davis decided to take fort before resupply ships arrived Beauregard shelled fort April 12-13, 1861 Anderson surrendered April 13 Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down rebellion on April 15 VA, NC, TN & AR seceded & joined CSA

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