Print this page

The 1860 Elections

1860 Presidential Candidate Abraham Lincoln 1860 Presidential Candidate John C. Breckenridge 1860 Presidential Candidate Stephen A. Douglas 1860 Presidential Candidate John Bell

November 6, 2010 marked the 150th anniversary of the election of Abraham Lincoln as the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln was one of four candidates for President that year. Although only receiving a plurality (about 40%) of the popular vote, Lincoln was elected with a super majority (180 out of 303) of the Electoral Vote. John C. Breckinridge was from Kentucky and ran as the Southern Democratic candidate. Stephen A. Douglas was from Illinois and ran as the Northern Democratic candidate. John Bell was from Tennessee and ran as the Constitutional Union candidate. Lincoln did not even appear on the ballot in nine of the slave states. Out of the 26,430 votes cast for Lincoln in slave states, over 17,028 were cast in Missouri with the balance of 9,402 coming from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky. In Missouri, more than half of the votes received by Lincoln (more than 9,000) were cast in St. Louis.[12]

1860 Presidential Election Results Bar Graph Missouri Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson

On January 3, 1861, Claiborne Fox Jackson took the oath of office to become the 15th Governor of the State of Missouri. Although Jackson ran as a Conditional Unionist on the Democratic ticket, he soon began to reveal his secessionist feelings. In his inaugural address made it clear that he aligned himself with pro-Southern Democrats. He also called on the State Assembly to call a Missouri State Convention and to reorganize the State's militia:[13]

I can only promise to bring to the post assigned to me an honest devotion to my State, the Constitution of the United States, and to that Union which the Constitution was designed to perpetuate . . . Missouri will not be found to shrink from the duty which her position upon the border imposes; her honor, her interests, and her sympathies point alike in one direction, and determine her to stand by the South.

[A] State Convention should . . . be called immediately. Missouri is entitled to a voice in the settlement of the questions now pending in the country, and her position on these questions should be known . . . In this way the whole subject will be brought directly before the people at large, who will determine for themselves what is to be the ultimate action of the State.

In March of 1861, the delegates at the Missouri State Convention adopted resolutions that refused to pledge the state in any way to secession and pledged the state's support to any compromise that could be devised to lead the Union away from dissolution. The convention delegates were decidedly against a civil war. [14]

Missouri Congressman Francis P. Blair, Jr.

Frank Blair actively campaigned in Missouri for Lincoln in 1860. Pro-slavery Missourians would frequently interrupt his speeches and threaten the attendees. Blair reacted by forming a para-military organization known as the “Wide Awakes”. Republicans across the country had formed the “Wide Awakes” to provide protection from mobs during the Republican campaign of 1860. During the early months of 1861, Blair would reorganize his Missouri Wide Awakes into Union Guards in order to provide pro-Union supporters with a counter to the pro-Southern “Minute Men” paramilitary groups. [15]

1860 Wide Awake Rally for Abraham Lincoln

The Muse South African