Friday, November 6, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1766


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred fifty-five years ago today, November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was elected 16th President of the United States.  For the first time, the Republican Party which Lincoln represented won control of the White House.

Mr. Lincoln had pledged to end the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Republican Party's first candidate, John C. Fremont, lost to Democrat James Buchanan in the Election of 1956.

In the first debate between Kennedy and Nixon, JFK's opening statement referred to Lincoln's first election.  He said...

"In the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln said the question was whether this nation could exist half-slave or half free.  In the election of 1960...the question is whether the world will exist half-slave or half-free..."

The Republican Party, founded in 1854, opposed the territorial spread of "the peculiar institution" but promised not to interfere with slavery in the states.
The party also promised to enact a protective tariff, provide federal aid for internal improvements as well as a transcontinental railroad and free homesteads.

The final electoral count was...

Abraham Lincoln (R) 180
John C. Breckinridge (SD) 72
John Bell (CU) 39
Stephen A. Douglas (ND) 12

The Democrats, divided over the slavery question, had split into two factions.

The northern Democrats, led by Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, supported popular sovereignty or the right of the people of each territory make their own choice on slavery by popular vote.

The southern Democrats, led by John C. Breckinridge of South Carolina, demanded enforcement of the Dred Scott Decision by which the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not citizens of the United States.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled also that slaves were property and therefore "Congress may not deprive any person of the right to take property into federal territories."

A 3rd party, the Constitutional Union Party, attempted to avoid disunion over the slavery issue and ran John Bell of Tennessee.

Lincoln's election was the "last straw" for many Southerners and in December 1860 the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union followed by 6 other southern states. 


"American History," by Irving L. Gordon, Second Edition, Amsco School Publications, Inc., New York, 1996.

Abraham Lincoln Impersonator 
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by John White (2010)