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Election of 1860 (McPherson, 2001)

Textbook

James M. McPherson, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 132-133.

The contest soon resolved itself into a two-party campaign in each section: Lincoln versus Douglas in the North and Breckinridge versus Bell in the South. The Republicans did not even put up a ticket in ten Southern states. And Douglas has no hope of carrying any of the same ten states. In the North, most old Whigs/American constituency had gone over to the Republicans. And while Breckinridge gained the support of the prominent Northern Democrats identified with the Buchanan administration, the Southern rights party could expect no Northern electoral votes. It became clear that the only way to beat Lincoln was by a fusion of the three opposing parties that might enable them to carry a solid South plus three or four crucial Northern states. But formidable barriers stood in the way of such a fusion. The bitter divisions among Democrats could scarcely be forgiven or forgotten. A good many fire-eaters had worked to break up the party precisely in order to ensure that the election of a Black Republican president and thereby to fire the Southern heart for secession. Even among Southern Democrats who deplored schism, the gulf was now too wide to be bridged. The only fusion achieved in the South was a joint Bell-Douglas ticket in Texas, which won a paltry 24 percent of the vote against Breckinridge. Herculean efforts by party leaders in New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New Jersey patched together fusion tickets in those states. But this proved futile, for Lincoln won a majority against the combined opposition in the first three states and an electoral plurality in New Jersey.
How to Cite This Page: "Election of 1860 (McPherson, 2001)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/16882.