Curated Groupings

The 1860 Election: A Four-Way Race

1860: A Four-Way Race for President

The presidential election of 1860 took place with a nation in crisis. The Republican Party, which had fielded its first presidential candidate in 1856, infuriated the South by nominating Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The Democratic Party, unable to agree on a single candidate, had split into northern and southern factions. The northern Democrats then nominated Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois while the southern Democrats nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. John Bell of Tennessee was nominated by the newly formed Constitutional Union Party. Although Douglas portrayed himself as a national candidate, the race was in fact a sectional one. The contest in the North was between Lincoln and Douglas. The race in the South was between Breckinridge and Bell.

Campaign Items

Each candidate's supporters campaigned for their man by organizing rallies and parades, giving speeches, and distributing a wide variety of printed items. Many of these items remain today in the form of election tickets, campaign ribbons and buttons, songsters, newspapers, and campaign biographies. By clicking on the images above, you can examine and learn more about some of these items in the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection.