Sectional Party of 1860

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
This is inaccurate. Take a look at the Results by state section of the Wikipedia article on the election. Lincoln took over 50% of the popular vote in every state in which he won the EC vote except CA & OR (7 EC votes). That means you can combine ALL the non-Lincoln votes into one and he still wins 180-7=173 electoral votes, 152 being required to win. Lincoln won the election because a decade of excessive demands and actions of slavery proponents pushed a majority of Northern voters into the Republican camp (heck, those actions created the Republican party). Yancy & Co. didn't have to divide the Democratic party to throw the election to Lincoln and realize their secessionist dreams. But of course, they weren't going to leave it to chance.

EC I don't think this is accurate. If you look at the EC, I think you can combine the votes of all other candidates, including fusion tickets, into one, and Lincoln would only lose 7 votes (CA & OR).
Any hope that the Democrats had of winning went out the window when Yancy and company deliberately split the party. I agree with you on the vote counts as they ended up and how combining the opposition vote counts really only changes two small states with seven EC votes.

However, I do think the Democrats had a shot if they had united and reconciled at the Charleston Convention. If Douglas had a united Party behind him, he would have campaigned differently. The states that were closest were Illinois (11 EC votes, Lincoln 50.7%) and Indiana (13 EC, Lincoln 51.1%). Douglas would have to flip both of those if he wanted to win, but he had beaten Lincoln in the 1858 Senate election in Illinois while Indiana went for the Democrats and Buchanan in 1856. It would not be hard to imagine that change.

Any chance at that probably went down the tubes with the disaster of the Yancy walkout in the Charleston Convention.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
That was a big part of it. The Northerners assumed the position of Americanism. Excluding Southerners. They wanted to eliminate Southerners from participation of the Federal Government. So, WHO broke the Union. Southerns were evicted, so naturally, they moved on.
I think you have this backwards. Northerners tended to see themselves as Americans -- not New Yorkers or Pennsylvanians or Rhode Islanders. Virginians seem to have thought of themselves as Virginians, Georgians as Georgians, etc. -- not Americans.

I have never seen any evidence at all that "the North" (as in "the rest of the country") "wanted to eliminate Southerners from participation of the Federal Government." No one "evicted" Southerners. "The South" isolated themselves by refusing to participate in the government and actively making war against it.
 

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Any hope that the Democrats had of winning went out the window when Yancy and company deliberately split the party. I agree with you on the vote counts as they ended up and how combining the opposition vote counts really only changes two small states with seven EC votes.

However, I do think the Democrats had a shot if they had united and reconciled at the Charleston Convention. If Douglas had a united Party behind him, he would have campaigned differently. The states that were closest were Illinois (11 EC votes, Lincoln 50.7%) and Indiana (13 EC, Lincoln 51.1%). Douglas would have to flip both of those if he wanted to win, but he had beaten Lincoln in the 1858 Senate election in Illinois while Indiana went for the Democrats and Buchanan in 1856. It would not be hard to imagine that change.

Any chance at that probably went down the tubes with the disaster of the Yancy walkout in the Charleston Convention.
Douglas probably could have won in the House of Representatives if he had been able to deny Lincoln the EC victory.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The 1860 Republicans were a sectional party making specialized appeals to the iron industry in Pennsylvania, and abolitionists in New England. But by 1864 the had a much broader program, which was a winner in the Pacific west, and dominant in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota. They even got 30% of the votes in Kentucky, which was a pro slavery Unionist state.
1. Support for internal improvements and allowing the railroads to modernize the transportation system.
2. A Homestead opportunity for the sons of prosperous farmers.
3. Much tighter banking laws requiring reserve deposits and moving rapidly towards deposit checking and away from private bank notes.
The people were forcing the Republicans in the direction they wanted the country to go. Which is why the became a permanent force at the conservative end of national politics. Despite their inherent corruption.
 

CW Buff

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
Any hope that the Democrats had of winning went out the window when Yancy and company deliberately split the party. I agree with you on the vote counts as they ended up and how combining the opposition vote counts really only changes two small states with seven EC votes.

However, I do think the Democrats had a shot if they had united and reconciled at the Charleston Convention. If Douglas had a united Party behind him, he would have campaigned differently. The states that were closest were Illinois (11 EC votes, Lincoln 50.7%) and Indiana (13 EC, Lincoln 51.1%). Douglas would have to flip both of those if he wanted to win, but he had beaten Lincoln in the 1858 Senate election in Illinois while Indiana went for the Democrats and Buchanan in 1856. It would not be hard to imagine that change.

Any chance at that probably went down the tubes with the disaster of the Yancy walkout in the Charleston Convention.
I disagree. There might be a slim chance, but I think it's very difficult to imagine. You've got to flip BOTH Illinois AND Indiana. A vote for Lincoln was a vote against slavery in the territories, or a vote for higher tariffs (PA). The messages are too different, the effects of Kansas and Dred Scott are too ingrained, just like John Brown in the South. The chances of flipping votes in such a situation are slim to none. Northerners turned off by slavery aren't going to vote for popular sovereignty (Bleeding Kansas II). If the Democrats had remained united, Douglas could have done no better on those two issues. And Douglas did campaign in Indiana.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I disagree. There might be a slim chance, but I think it's very difficult to imagine. You've got to flip BOTH Illinois AND Indiana. A vote for Lincoln was a vote against slavery in the territories, or a vote for higher tariffs (PA). The messages are too different, the effects of Kansas and Dred Scott are too ingrained, just like John Brown in the South. The chances of flipping votes in such a situation are slim to none. Northerners turned off by slavery aren't going to vote for popular sovereignty (Bleeding Kansas II). If the Democrats had remained united, Douglas could have done no better on those two issues. And Douglas did campaign in Indiana.
It is certainly speculative and I could easily have been proven wrong in a 2-party Election (instead of a 4-party Election). Lincoln essentially won by flipping 3 States the Republicans lost in 1856: Illinois (13 EC votes), Indiana (11 EC) and Pennsylvania (27 EC)

In Illinois:
  • Lincoln received 172,171 votes (50.7%)
  • Douglas/Breckinridge/Bell received 167,460 votes (49.3%)
  • In the 1858 Senate election, Douglas was elected by the legislature 54-46 while the Republicans won the statewide vote by 3,402 votes (50.6%). The surprise that year was that former Whig John J. Crittenden endorsed Douglas.
  • The margin of victory is 4,711. Douglas would need to take more than 2355 votes from Lincoln to reverse that, or to attract 4,712 non-voters to vote for him, or some combination of those, to beat Lincoln.
In Indiana (which voted in October that year):
  • Lincoln received 139,033 votes (51.1%)
  • Douglas/Breckinridge/Bell received 133,110 votes (48.9%)
  • The margin of victory is 5,923. Douglas would need to take more than 2962 votes from Lincoln to reverse that, or to attract 5,924 non-voters to vote for him, or some combination of those, to beat Lincoln.
In Pennsylvania, the Republicans were probably going to win no matter what. Buchanan beat Fremont there by a bit over 83,000 votes in 1856, but Buchanan had become unpopular in his home state -- and that was probably less important than the iron-and-steel tariff issue. PA was being (or felt it was being) gored by unfair competition from British imports. Unless "the South" was willing to agree to some compromise on that issue, PA was a lost state for the Democrats -- and I doubt you could get "the South" to swallow anything on that issue even to win the Presidency.

What I am postulating is that the Democratic Party does not split at Charleston in late April/early May of 1861. This includes a supposition that the talk of secession would be at least toned down a bit, that the Lincoln opposition will be on the same page, and months of political opposition against the Republicans will be pursued together in "the North" in a somewhat solid fashion. That has the potential for a nail-biter election in IN and IL. I would not bet on Douglas winning it, but I would think it is a possible result.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
If the Dems don't split the election looks more normal and delay helps the north. So maybe the voters decided to drift along for four more years, if the Dems don't split.
 
Last edited:

CW Buff

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
That's the way the vote went down after the southern Democrats made it impossible for Douglas to win in the south. Douglas might have gained additional states like Kentucky or Maryland, or New York, if he had a reasonable shot at winning. He would have had to win enough states in the Ohio to Connecticut corridor, and that was not probable. People could see, based on 1856 result, that Lincoln and Breckinridge were the two candidates capable of getting EC votes.
The states Lincoln did not take (KY, MD) have nothing to do with it. You've got to take 29 electoral votes away from Lincoln. Yeah, OH to CT corridor, but they are not in contention. As @trice has noted, you've got to focus on:

State -- Elec. Votes -- Lincoln Won --------- Douglas Won

CA ---------- 4 ------- 38,733 = 32.3% ------ 37,999 = 31.7%
IL ---------- 11 ----- 172,171 = 50.7% ----- 160,215 = 47.2%
IN ---------- 13 ----- 139,033 = 51.1% ----- 115,509 = 42.4%
OR ---------- 3 --------- 5,344 = 36.2% ------- 4,131 = 27.99%

All four states would have to go for Douglas.

Edited: Reorganized table.
 
Last edited:

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The Republican Party of 1860 was sectional. If they had lost in 1860, they would have done better in the Congressional elections based on reapportionment, in 1862. By 1864 the Midwest would have had more EC votes, and the Republican Party would have been invading Maryland and Missouri more effectively.
The Republican platform of 1860 had great appeal in the west.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

CW Buff

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Location
Connecticut
What I am postulating is that the Democratic Party does not split at Charleston in late April/early May of 1861. This includes a supposition that the talk of secession would be at least toned down a bit, that the Lincoln opposition will be on the same page, and months of political opposition against the Republicans will be pursued together in "the North" in a somewhat solid fashion. That has the potential for a nail-biter election in IN and IL. I would not bet on Douglas winning it, but I would think it is a possible result.
I understand what you're saying. And we agree, it's possible but unlikely. I think we disagree on the degree of possibility. Douglas campaigned hard. He often warned that the election of a Republican would spark civil war. Many probably saw that as self-serving. Unlike most elections, I don't think campaigning could make much of a difference in 1860. Slavery in the territories is the issue, and its time has come. The 1850s are all about northerners becoming less and less accommodating towards slavery in the territories. The driver is the excessive demands of slavery proponents, like FSl 1850, Bleeding Kansas, Dred Scott, which have a backlash effect in the North. One exception might be PA, where yes, tariffs are key. But once party platforms are set on the issues, I don't see much chance to alter minds in this particular election via the campaigning. IMHO.
 

trice

Lt. Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
The Republican Party of 1860 was sectional. If they had lost in 1860, they would have done better in the Congressional elections based on reapportionment, in 1862. By 1864 the Midwest would have had more EC votes, and the Republican Party would have been invading Maryland and Missouri more effectively.
The Republican platform of 1860 had great appeal in the west.
People say this ("The Republican Party of 1860 was sectional.") all the time. I do not think it is a true depiction of the situation that led to the "Winter of Secession" and Civil War.

IMHO, the real "sectional party" causing the problems in those days was "the South". The Republican Party was new, it was an upstart and it was growing at a rapid rate. The Republican Party was popular in the sections of New England, in the Mid-Atlantic, in the Midwest and the Far West. It had a growing presence in the Border States. In short, the Republican Party was from many sections of the country

The section we call "the South" (actually the 15 slave States in the Union) was engaged in uncompromising resistance to the spread of the Republican Party (because they were generally opposed to the spread and existence of slavery). When the Democratic Party would not bend completely to the will of "the South" in 1860, the extremists of "the South" deliberately broke the Democratic Party up and threatened secession if "the North" (as in " rest of the country") did not prostrate themselves in abject submission to their demands.

If we want to truly characterize any party as "sectional", it would be the party that wanted slavery expanded and protected, no matter the cost to others. It would be the Party that schemed to cause secession, pitting "the South" against the rest of the country over slavery (the only real cause of the Civil War -- no State would have tried to break the Union and start a war over tariff differences, fishing bounties, or any of the other minor issues we see bandied about). We would be talking about the "Fire-Eaters", those fanatics like Rhett of South Carolina, Yancey of Alabama and their cronies who put their own desires and the interests of slavery ahead of their country. Those are the people who worked for a decade or two, for some their entire adult lives, to divide the country over slavery and -- by the late 1850s -- to deliberately fracture the national political process in order to take "the South" out of the Union.

Those extremists wanted the Democratic Party to be their creature, a pawn for "the South" they dreamed. They ended up with what they wanted -- Breckinridge Democrats -- a true sectional party that could not garner meaningful support anywhere outside of a slave state. They rejoiced at Lincoln's victory because they could use it to whip the flames up and drive their section -- "the South" they cherished -- to the foolishness of secession and civil war. Having sewn the wind, they reaped the whirlwind of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Then they built up the myth of the Lost Cause to claim they had been treated badly.

The Republican Party was not a "sectional party" -- the Republican Party represented most of the sections in the United States of America. If anything should be called a "sectional party" it is the group that wanted secession and deliberately divided the country to get it.
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Again this talk about the Republicans being a "sectional" party comes down to saying there are only two sections: "the South" and "the rest of the country". If you prefer, you can define that as "slave" and "free" -- because Lincoln won every single "free" state from the Atlantic to the Pacific and his opponents only won in "slave" States. This seems to be the true sectional divide.
I agree with all your points, but I think this is an understatement. Lincoln did not just win every single free state. He won almost every single free state with over 50% of the vote.
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top