U.S. presidential election, 1860
|Presidential Candidate||Electoral Vote||Popular Vote||Pct||Party||Running Mate
|Abraham Lincoln (W)||180||1,866,452||Republican||Hannibal Hamlin (180)|
|John C. Breckinridge||72||847,953||Democrat (southern states)||Joseph Lane (72)|
|John Bell||39||Constitutional Union (Whig)||Edward Everett (39)|
|Stephen A. Douglas||12||Democrat (northern states)||Herschel V. Johnson (12)|
|Other elections: 1848, 1852, 1856, 1860, 1864, 1868, 1872|
|Source: U.S. Office of the Federal Register|
At the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago, William H. Seward of New York, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, and Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania were the leading contenders for the party's presidential nomination. However, Lincoln, through the political astuteness of his managers and his own shrewd politicking, received the nomination on May 16, 1860. Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was selected as his running mate.
Party leaders declared that slavery could spread no farther. The party also promised a tariff for the protection of industry and pledged the enactment of a law granting free homesteads to settlers who would help in the opening of the West.
The Democrats were not united. Southerners split from the party and nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for president. Stephen A. Douglas was the nominee of northern Democrats. Diehard Whigs from the border states, formed into the Constitutional Union Party, nominated John C. Bell of Tennessee.
Lincoln and Douglas competed in the North, and Breckenridge and Bell in the South. Lincoln won only 39 percent of the popular vote, but had a clear majority of 180 electoral votes, carrying all 18 free states. Bell won Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia; Breckenridge took the other slave states except for Missouri, which was won by Douglas. Despite his poor electoral showing, Douglas trailed only Lincoln in the popular vote.
Lincoln's election made South Carolina's secession from the Union a foregone conclusion. The state had long been waiting for an event that would unite the South against the antislavery forces. Once the election returns were certain, a special South Carolina convention declared "that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states under the name of the "United States of America' is hereby dissolved." By February 1, 1861, six more Southern states had seceded. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America. The remaining southern states as yet remained in the Union.
Less than a month later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he refused to recognize the secession, considering it "legally void." His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. But the South turned deaf ears, and on April 12, guns opened fire on the federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. The United States Civil War had begun. More Americans would die in this conflict than in any other conflict before or since.