Abraham Lincoln Elected President

November 6, 1860

On this date in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President. He won the election with a majority of the votes in the electoral college, but not the popular vote. He did not win a single electoral vote from the South, which supported pro-slavery candidate John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky. Breckenridge was the vice president to James Buchanan, who was leaving office, and the leader of the Southern branch of the Democratic Party. The Northern branch was lead by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, who also ran for President.

Although Northerners were generally pleased that Lincoln had been elected, abolitionists did not feel that his stance on slavery was strong enough. Abolitionist Wendell Phillips wrote, "Not an abolitionist, hardly an antislavery man, Mr. Lincoln consents to represent an antislavery idea. A pawn on the political chessboard, his value is his position; with fair effort, we may soon charge him for knight, bishop, or queen."

Horace Greeley, the Republican editor of the New York Tribune, praised Lincoln, saying, "His career proves our doctrine sound. He is Republicanism embodied and exemplified. Born in the very humblest Whig stratum of society, reared in poverty, earning his own livelihood from a tender age by the rudest and least recompensed labor...pickup up his education as he might by the evening firelight of rude log cabins...and so gradually working his way upward to knowledge, capacity, esteem, influence, competency...his life as an invincible attestation of the superiority of Free Society, as his election will be its crowning triumph."

In the South, it became evident that the mood was grim. The Atlanta Confederacy wrote, "Let the consequences be what they may - whether the Potomac is crimsoned in human gore, and Pennsylvania Avenue is paved ten fathoms deep with mangled bodies, or whether the last vestige of liberty is swept from the face of the American continent, the South will never submit to such humiliation and degradation as the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln."



 

Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln taken on November 8, 1863 by Alexander Gardner.

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Ohio Civil War Central: An Encyclopedia of the American Civil War