1856 United States presidential election

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1856 United States presidential election
Flag of the United States (1851-1858).svg
  1852 November 4, 1856 1860  

296 members of the Electoral College
149 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout78.9% [1] Increase2.svg 9.3 pp
  James Buchanan (cropped).jpg John Charles Fremont crop.jpg Fillmore (cropped).jpg
Nominee James Buchanan John C. Frémont Millard Fillmore
Party Democratic Republican Know Nothing
Alliance Whig
Home state Pennsylvania California New York
Running mate John C. Breckinridge William L. Dayton Andrew J. Donelson
Electoral vote1741148
States carried19111
Popular vote1,836,0721,342,345873,053

Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Buchanan/Breckinridge, red by Frémont/Dayton, and lilac by Fillmore/Donelson. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes cast by each state.

President before election

Franklin Pierce

Elected President

James Buchanan

The 1856 United States presidential election was the 18th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. In a three-way election, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican nominee John C. Frémont and Know Nothing nominee Millard Fillmore. The main issue was the expansion of slavery as facilitated by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854.


This was the only time in which a political party denied renomination to the incumbent president and won. Incumbent Democratic President Franklin Pierce was widely unpopular in the North because of his support for the pro-slavery faction in the ongoing civil war in territorial Kansas, and Buchanan defeated Pierce at the 1856 Democratic National Convention. Buchanan, a former Secretary of State, had avoided the divisive debates over the Kansas–Nebraska Act by being in Europe as the Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Slavery was the main issue, and with it the question of survival of the United States as it then existed. The Democrats were seen as the pro-slavery party; the new Republican party, though hostile to slavery, limited its efforts to the politically more manageable question of the extension of slavery into federal territories (and its removal from the District of Columbia). The nativist Know Nothings (known formally as the American Party) competed with the Republicans to replace the moribund Whig Party as the primary opposition to the Democrats. They emphasized opposition to Catholic immigrants.

The 1856 Republican National Convention nominated a ticket led by Frémont, an explorer and military officer who had served in the Mexican–American War. The Know Nothings, who ignored slavery and instead emphasized anti-immigration and anti-Catholic policies, nominated a ticket led by former Whig President Millard Fillmore. Domestic political turmoil was a major factor in the nominations of both Buchanan and Fillmore, who appealed in part because of their recent time abroad, when they did not have to take a position on the divisive questions related to slavery.

The Democrats supported expansionist slave-holding policies generally of varying intensities. Southern Democrats were all in favor of the expansion of slavery. Some wanted to obtain Cuba as slave territory; see Ostend Manifesto. Northern Democrats called for "popular sovereignty", which in theory would allow the residents in a territory to decide for themselves the legal status of slavery. In practice, in Kansas Territory, it produced a state-level civil war. Frémont opposed the expansion of slavery. Buchanan called that position "extremist", warning that a Republican victory would lead to disunion, a then constant issue of political debate which had already been long discussed and advocated. The Know Nothings attempted to present themselves as the one party capable of bridging the sectional divides. All three major parties found support in the North, but the Republicans had virtually no backing in the South.

Buchanan won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote, taking all but one slave state and five free states. Frémont won a majority of electoral votes from free states and finished second in the nationwide popular vote, while Fillmore took 21.5% of the popular vote and carried Maryland. The Know Nothings soon collapsed as a national party, as most of its anti-slavery members joined the Republican Party after the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court ruling. 1856 also proved to be the last Democratic presidential victory until 1884, as Republicans emerged as the dominant party during and after the Civil War.


The 1856 presidential election was primarily waged among three political parties, though other parties had been active in the spring of the year. The conventions of these parties are considered below in order of the party's popular vote.

Democratic Party nomination

1856 Democratic Party ticket
James Buchanan John C. Breckinridge
for Presidentfor Vice President
James Buchanan, U.S. Secretary of State.jpg
John C Breckinridge-04775-restored.jpg
Former U.S. Minister to Great Britain
Former U.S. Representative
for Kentucky's 8th

Democratic candidates:

Buchanan/Breckinridge campaign poster 1856DemocraticPoster.png
Buchanan/Breckinridge campaign poster

The Democratic Party was wounded from its devastating losses in the 1854–1855 midterm elections. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, who had sponsored the Kansas-Nebraska Act, entered the race in opposition to President Franklin Pierce. The Pennsylvania delegation continued to sponsor its favorite son Buchanan.

The Seventh Democratic National Convention was held in Smith and Nixon's Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 2 to 6, 1856. The delegates were deeply divided over slavery. On the first ballot, Buchanan placed first with 135.5 votes to 122.5 for Pierce, 33 for Douglas, and 5 for Senator Lewis Cass, who had been the presidential nominee in 1848. With each succeeding ballot, Douglas gained at Pierce's expense. On the 15th ballot, most of Pierce's delegates shifted to Douglas in an attempt to stop Buchanan, but Douglas withdrew when it became clear Buchanan had the support of the majority of those at the convention, also fearing that his continued participation might lead to divisions within the party that could endanger its chances in the general election. For the first time in American history a man who had been elected president was denied re-nomination after seeking it.

A host of candidates were nominated for the vice presidency, but a number of them attempted to withdraw themselves from consideration, among them the eventual nominee, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. Breckinridge, besides having been selected as an elector, was also supporting former Speaker of the House Linn Boyd for the vice presidential nomination. However, following a draft effort led by the delegation from Vermont, Breckinridge was nominated on the second ballot.

Republican Party nomination

1856 Republican Party ticket
John C. Frémont William L. Dayton
for Presidentfor Vice President
John Charles Fremont crop.jpg
William L. Dayton.jpg
Former U.S. Senator from California
Former U.S. Senator from New Jersey
1856 dayton fremont.jpg

Republican candidates:

Fremont/Dayton campaign poster Fremont-Dayton 1856Poster.png
Fremont/Dayton campaign poster

The Republican Party was formed in early 1854 to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Act. During the midterm elections of 1854–1855, the Republican Party was one of the patchwork of anti-administration parties contesting the election, but they were able to win thirteen seats in the House of Representatives for the 34th Congress. However, the party collaborated with other disaffected groups and gradually absorbed them. In the elections of 1855, the Republican Party won three governorships.

The first Republican National Convention was held in the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17 to 19, 1856. The convention approved an anti-slavery platform that called for congressional sovereignty in the territories, an end to polygamy in Mormon settlements, and federal assistance for a transcontinental railroad—a political outcome of the Pacific Railroad Surveys. John C. Frémont, John McLean, William Seward, Salmon Chase, and Charles Sumner all were considered by those at the convention, but the latter three requested that their names be withdrawn. Seward and Chase did not feel that the party was yet sufficiently organized to have a realistic chance of taking the White House and were content to wait until the next election. Sumner was in no fit condition to run after being violently assaulted on the Senate floor a month before the convention. McLean's name was initially withdrawn by his manager Rufus Spalding, but the withdrawal was rescinded at the strong behest of the Pennsylvania delegation led by Thaddeus Stevens. [2] Kentucky was the only southern state to have a delegation at the convention. [3] Frémont was nominated for president overwhelmingly on the formal ballot, and William L. Dayton was nominated for vice president over Abraham Lincoln.

American (Know-Nothing) Party nomination

1856 American Party ticket
Millard Fillmore Andrew J. Donelson
for Presidentfor Vice President
Andrew J. Donelson portrait.jpg
President of the United States
U.S. Envoy to Prussia

American Party candidates:

1856 Know-Nothing campaign poster Fillmore2.JPG
1856 Know-Nothing campaign poster

The American Party, formerly the Native American Party, was the vehicle of the Know Nothing movement. The American Party absorbed most of the former Whig Party that had not gone to either the Republicans or Democrats in 1854, and by 1855 it had established itself as the chief opposition party to the Democrats. In the 82 races for the House of Representatives in 1854, the American Party ran 76 candidates, 35 of whom won. None of the six independents or Whigs who ran in these races were elected. The party then succeeded in electing Nathaniel P. Banks as Speaker of the House in the 34th Congress.

The American National Convention was held in National Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 22 to 25, 1856. Following the decision by party leaders in 1855 not to press the slavery issue, the convention had to decide how to deal with the Ohio chapter of the party, which was vocally anti-slavery. The convention closed the Ohio chapter and re-opened it under more moderate leadership. Delegates from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, New England, and other northern states bolted when a resolution that would have required all prospective nominees to be in favor of prohibiting slavery north of the 36'30' parallel was voted down. [4] This removed a greater part of the American Party's support in the North outside of New York, where the conservative faction of the Whig Party remained faithful. [5]

The only name with much support was former President Millard Fillmore. Historian Allan Nevins says Fillmore was not a Know-Nothing or a nativist. He was out of the country when the presidential nomination came and had not been consulted about running. Furthermore, Fillmore was neither a member of the party nor had he ever attended an American [Know-Nothing] gathering nor had he by "spoken or written word [...] indicated a subscription to American tenets". [6] Fillmore was nominated with 179 votes out of the 234 votes cast. The convention chose Andrew Jackson Donelson of Tennessee for vice president with 181 votes to 30 scattered votes and 24 abstentions. Although the nativist argument of the American party had considerable success in local and state elections in 1854–55, Fillmore in 1856 concentrated almost entirely on national unity. Historian Tyler Anbinder says, "The American party had dropped nativism from its agenda." Fillmore won 22% of the national popular vote.

North American Party nomination

North American Party candidates:

An anti-slavery map printed during the Presidential election campaign of 1856 by the John C. Fremont Campaign. John C. Fremont, America's Future Through Democracy 1856 Cornell.jpg
An anti-slavery map printed during the Presidential election campaign of 1856 by the John C. Fremont Campaign.

The anti-slavery "Americans" from the North formed their own party after the nomination of Fillmore in Philadelphia. This party called for its national convention to be held in New York City, just before the Republican National Convention. Party leaders hoped to nominate a joint ticket with the Republicans to defeat Buchanan. The national convention was held on June 12 to 20, 1856 in New York. As John C. Frémont was the favorite to attain the Republican presidential nomination there was a considerable desire for the North American party to nominate him, but it was feared that in doing so they may possibly injure his chances to actually become the Republican presidential nominee. The delegates voted repeatedly on a nominee for president without a result. Nathaniel P. Banks was nominated for president on the 10th ballot over John C. Frémont and John McLean, with the understanding that he would withdraw from the race and endorse John C. Frémont once he had won the Republican presidential nomination. The delegates, preparing to return home, unanimously nominated Frémont on the 11th ballot shortly after his nomination by the Republican Party in Philadelphia. The chairman of the convention, William F. Johnston, had been nominated to run for vice president, but later withdrew when the North Americans and the Republicans failed to find an acceptable accommodation between him and the Republican vice presidential nominee, William Dayton. [7]

Convention vote
Presidential ballots1234567891011Vice presidential ballot
Nathaniel P. Banks 434846474645515050530 William F. Johnston 59
John C. Frémont 3436373731292927281892 Thomas Ford 16
John McLean 19102293340414030240 John C. Frémont 12
Robert F. Stockton 14201800000000Scattering21
William F. Johnston 611500000000

North American Seceders Party nomination

North American Seceders Party candidates:

A group of North American delegates called the North American Seceders withdrew from the North American Party's convention and met separately. They objected to the attempt to work with the Republican Party. The Seceders held their own national convention on June 16 and 17, 1856. 19 delegates unanimously nominated Robert F. Stockton for president and Kenneth Rayner for vice president. The Seceders' ticket later withdrew from the contest, with Stockton endorsing Millard Fillmore for the presidency. [8]

Whig Party nomination

The Whig Party was reeling from electoral losses since 1852. Half of its leaders in the South bolted to the Southern Democratic Party. In the North the Whig Party was moribund with most of its anti-slavery members joining the Republican Party. This party remained somewhat alive in states like New York and Pennsylvania by joining the anti-slavery movement.

The fifth (and last) Whig National Convention was held in the Hall of the Maryland Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 17 and 18, 1856. There were one hundred and fifty delegates sent from twenty-six states. Though the leaders of this party wanted to keep the Whig Party alive, it became irretrievably doomed once these one hundred and fifty Whig delegates decided unanimously to endorse the American Party's national ticket of Fillmore and Donelson.

Liberty Party nomination

By 1856, very little of the Liberty Party remained. Most of its members joined the Free Soil Party in 1848 and nearly of all what remained of the party joined the Republicans in 1854. What remained of the party ran 1848 candidate Gerrit Smith under the name of the "National Liberty Party."

General election


Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for the winning candidate. Shades of blue are for Buchanan (Democratic), shades of red are for Fremont (Republican), and shades of yellow are for Fillmore (Know Nothing/Whig). PresidentialCounty1856Colorbrewer.gif
Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for the winning candidate. Shades of blue are for Buchanan (Democratic), shades of red are for Frémont (Republican), and shades of yellow are for Fillmore (Know Nothing/Whig).
Caricature of Democratic Platform DemocraticPlatform1856Cartoon.jpg
Caricature of Democratic Platform
Campaign ribbon RibbonBuchananBreckenridgePrezCampaign1856.jpg
Campaign ribbon

None of the three candidates did any public campaigning. The Republican Party opposed the extension of slavery into the territories: in fact, its slogan was "Free speech, free press, free soil, free men, Frémont and victory!" The Republicans thus crusaded against the Slave Power, warning it was destroying republican values. Democrats warned that a Republican victory would bring a civil war.

The Republican platform opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise through the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which enacted the policy of popular sovereignty, allowing settlers to decide whether a new state would enter the Union as free or slave. The Republicans also accused the Pierce administration of allowing a fraudulent territorial government to be imposed upon the citizens of the Kansas Territory, thus engendering the violence that had raged in Bleeding Kansas. They advocated the immediate admittance of Kansas as a free state.

Along with opposing the spread of slavery into the continental territories of the United States, the party also opposed the Ostend Manifesto, which advocated the annexation of Cuba from Spain. In sum, the campaign's true focus was against the system of slavery, which they felt was destroying the republican values that the Union had been founded upon.

The Democratic platform supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act and popular sovereignty. The party supported the pro-slavery territorial legislature elected in Kansas, opposed the free-state elements within Kansas, and castigated the Topeka Constitution as an illegal document written during an illegal convention. The Democrats also supported the plan to annex Cuba, advocated in the Ostend Manifesto, which Buchanan helped devise while serving as minister to Britain. The most influential aspect of the Democratic campaign was a warning that a Republican victory would lead to the secession of numerous southern states. The main Democratic campaign was a counter-crusade against the Republicans. They ridiculed Frémont's military record and warned that his victory would bring civil war. Much of the private rhetoric of the campaign focused on unfounded rumors regarding Frémont—talk of him as president taking charge of a large army that would support slave insurrections, the likelihood of widespread lynchings of slaves, and whispered hope among slaves for freedom and political equality. [9] [10]

Because Fillmore was considered by many incapable of securing the presidency on the American ticket, Whigs were urged to support Buchanan. Democrats also called on nativists to make common cause with them against the specter of sectionalism even if they had once attacked their political views.

Fillmore and the Americans, meanwhile, insisted that they were the only "national party" since the Democrats leaning in favor of the South and the Republicans were fanatically in favor of Northern fanaticism. [11]

A minor scandal erupted when the Americans, seeking to turn the national dialogue back in the direction of nativism, put out a false rumor that Frémont was in fact a Roman Catholic. Because of the Republican candidate's French-Canadian ancestry and surname, many voters accepted the allegation at face value. The Democrats ran with it, and the Republicans found themselves unable to counteract the rumor effectively given that while the statements were false, any stern message against those assertions might have crippled their efforts to attain the votes of German Catholics. Attempts were made to refute it through friends and colleagues, but the issue persisted throughout the campaign and might have cost Frémont the support of a number of American Party members. [11]

The campaign had a different nature in the free states and the slave states. In the free states, there was a three-way campaign, which Frémont won with 45.2% of the vote to 41.5% for Buchanan and 13.3% for Fillmore; Frémont received 114 electoral votes to 62 for Buchanan. In the slave states, however, the contest was for all intents and purposes between Buchanan and Fillmore; Buchanan won 56.1% of the vote to 43.8% for Fillmore and 0.1% for Frémont, receiving 112 electoral votes to 8 for Fillmore.

Nationwide, Buchanan won 174 electoral votes, a majority, and was thus elected. Frémont received no votes in ten of the fourteen slave states with a popular vote; he obtained 306 in Delaware, 285 in Maryland, 283 in Virginia, and 314 in Kentucky.

Of the 1,713 counties making returns, Buchanan won 1,083 (63.22%), Frémont won 366 (21.37%), and Fillmore won 263 (15.35%). One county (0.06%) in Georgia split evenly between Buchanan and Fillmore.

This would be the only presidential election where the Know Nothing Party put up a campaign, as the party began to splinter. After the Supreme Court's controversial Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling in 1857, most of the anti-slavery members of the party joined the Republicans. The pro-slavery wing of the American Party remained strong on the local and state levels in a few southern states, but by the 1860 election, they were no longer a serious national political movement. Most of their remaining members either joined or supported the Constitutional Union Party in 1860.


This was the last election in which the Democrats won Pennsylvania until 1936, the last in which the Democrats won Illinois until 1892, the last in which the Democrats won California until 1880, the last in which the Democrats won Indiana and Virginia until 1876 and the last in which the Democrats won Tennessee until 1872. This also started the long Republican trend in Vermont, which would not be broken until 1964, over a century later. The presidential election of 1856 was also the last time to date that a Democrat was elected to succeed a fellow Democrat as president, [12] and the last one in which a former president ran for election to the presidency on a third party ticket until 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt ran on the Progressive Party ticket.


United States Electoral College 1856.svg

Electoral results
Presidential candidatePartyHome statePopular vote(a)Electoral
Running mate
CountPercentageVice-presidential candidateHome stateElectoral vote
James Buchanan Jr. Democratic Pennsylvania 1,836,07245.28%174 John Cabell Breckinridge Kentucky 174
John Charles Frémont Republican California1,342,34533.11%114 William Lewis Dayton New Jersey 114
Millard Fillmore American New York873,05321.53%8 Andrew Jackson Donelson Tennessee 8
Needed to win149149

Source (Popular Vote):Leip, David. "1856 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved July 27, 2005.Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved July 31, 2005.

(a)The popular vote figures exclude South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.

Popular vote
Electoral vote

Geography of results

Results by state

Source: Data from Walter Dean Burnham, Presidential ballots, 1836–1892 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955) pp 247–57.

States/districts won by Buchanan/Breckinridge
States/districts won by Frémont/Dayton
States/districts won by Fillmore/Donelson
James Buchanan
John C. Fremont
Millard Fillmore
MarginState Total
# %electoral
# %electoral
# %electoral
Alabama 946,73962.089no ballots28,55237.9218,18724.1675,291AL
Arkansas 421,91067.124no ballots10,73232.8811,17834.2432,642AR
California 453,34248.38420,70418.7836,19532.8317,14715.55110,255CA
Connecticut 634,99743.5742,71753.1862,6153.26−7,720−9.6180,329CT
Delaware 38,00454.8333102.126,27542.991,72911.8414,589DE
Florida 36,35856.813no ballots4,83343.191,52513.6211,191FL
Georgia 1056,58157.1410no ballots42,43942.8614,14214.2899,020GA
Illinois 11105,52844.091196,27540.2337,53115.689,2533.86239,334IL
Indiana 13118,67050.411394,37540.0922,3869.5124,29510.32235,431IN
Iowa 437,56840.7045,07348.8349,66910.47−7,505−8.1392,310IA
Kentucky 1274,64252.5412no ballots67,41647.467,2265.08142,058KY
Louisiana 622,16451.706no ballots20,70948.301,4553.4042,873LA
Maine 839,14035.6867,27961.3483,2702.98−28,139−25.66109,689ME
Maryland 839,12345.042850.3347,45254.638−8,329−9.5986,860MD
Massachusetts 1339,24423.08108,17263.611319,62611.54−68,928−40.53170,048MA
Michigan 652,13941.5271,76257.1561,6601.32−19,623−15.63125,561MI
Mississippi 735,45659.447no ballots24,19140.5611,26518.8859,647MS
Missouri 957,96454.439no ballots48,52245.579,4428.86106,486MO
New Hampshire 531,89145.7137,47353.7154100.59−5,582−8.0069,774NH
New Jersey 746,94347.23728,33828.5124,11524.2622,82818.7299,396NJ
New York 35195,87832.84276,00446.2735124,60420.89−80,126−13.43596,486NY
North Carolina 1048,24356.7810no ballots36,72043.2211,52313.5684,963NC
Ohio 23170,87444.21187,49748.512328,1267.28−16,623−4.30386,497OH
Pennsylvania 27230,68650.1327147,28632.0182,18917.8683,40018.12460,161PA
Rhode Island 46,68033.7011,46757.8541,6758.45−4,787−24.1519,822RI
South Carolina 8no popular vote8no popular voteno popular voteSC
Tennessee 1269,70452.1812no ballots63,87847.825,8264.36133,582TN
Texas 431,16966.594no ballots15,63933.4115,53033.1846,808TX
Vermont 510,57720.8439,56177.9655451.07−28,984−57.1250,748VT
Virginia 1590,08359.9615no ballots60,15040.0429,93319.92150,223VA
Wisconsin 552,84344.2266,09055.3055790.48−13,247−11.08119,512WI
TO WIN:149

Close states

States where the margin of victory was under 5%:

  1. Louisiana 3.40% (1,455 votes)
  2. Illinois 3.86% (9,253 votes)
  3. Ohio 4.30% (16,623 votes)
  4. Tennessee 4.36% (5,826 votes) (tipping point state for Buchanan victory)

States where the margin of victory was under 10%:

  1. Kentucky 5.08% (7,226 votes)
  2. New Hampshire 8.00% (5,582 votes)
  3. Iowa 8.13% (7,505 votes)
  4. Missouri 8.86% (9,442 votes)
  5. Maryland 9.59% (8,329 votes)
  6. Connecticut 9.61% (7,720 votes)

Other tipping point states:

  1. Pennsylvania 18.12% (83,400 votes) (tipping point state for Fremont victory)

Congressional certification

During the joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes, a dispute occurred over Wisconsin's slate. The electors of Wisconsin, delayed by a snowstorm, did not cast their votes for Frémont and Dayton until several days after the appointed time and sent a certificate mentioning this fact. When the votes for the state were opened by acting Vice President James Mason, he counted them over the objections of the leadership of both Houses of Congress. [13]

See also

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The 1856 Democratic National Convention was a presidential nominating convention that met from June 2 to June 6 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was held to nominate the Democratic Party's candidates for president and vice president in the 1856 election. The convention selected former Secretary of State James Buchanan of Pennsylvania for president and former Representative John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Presidency of Franklin Pierce</span> U.S. presidential administration from 1853 to 1857

The presidency of Franklin Pierce began on March 4, 1853, when Franklin Pierce was inaugurated, and ended on March 4, 1857. Pierce, a Democrat from New Hampshire, took office as the 14th United States president after routing Whig Party nominee Winfield Scott in the 1852 presidential election. Seen by fellow Democrats as pleasant and accommodating to all the party's factions, Pierce, then a little-known politician, won the presidential nomination on the 49th ballot of the 1852 Democratic National Convention. His hopes for reelection ended after losing the Democratic nomination at the 1856 Democratic National Convention.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Presidency of James Buchanan</span> United States presidential administration from 1857 to 1861

The presidency of James Buchanan began on March 4, 1857, when James Buchanan was inaugurated as 15th president of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, took office as the 15th United States president after defeating former President Millard Fillmore of the American Party, and John C. Frémont of the Republican Party in the 1856 presidential election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1856 United States presidential election in California</span>

The 1856 United States presidential election in California took place on November 4, 1856 as part of the 1856 United States presidential election. Voters chose four representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stephen A. Douglas</span> American politician and lawyer (1813–1861)

Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician and lawyer from Illinois. A senator, he was one of two nominees of the badly split Democratic Party for president in the 1860 presidential election, which was won by Republican Abraham Lincoln. Douglas had previously defeated Lincoln in the 1858 United States Senate election in Illinois, known for the pivotal Lincoln–Douglas debates. He was one of the brokers of the Compromise of 1850 which sought to avert a sectional crisis; to further deal with the volatile issue of extending slavery into the territories, Douglas became the foremost advocate of popular sovereignty, which held that each territory should be allowed to determine whether to permit slavery within its borders. This attempt to address the issue was rejected by both pro-slavery and anti-slavery advocates. Douglas was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short in physical stature but a forceful and dominant figure in politics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1856 United States elections</span>

The 1856 United States elections elected the members of the 35th United States Congress and the President to serve from 1857 until 1861. The elections took place during a major national debate over slavery, with the issue of "Bleeding Kansas" taking center stage. Along with the 1854 elections, these elections occurred during the transitional period immediately preceding the Third Party System. Old party lines were broken; new party alignments along sectional lines were in the process of formation. The Republican Party absorbed the Northern anti-slavery representatives who had been elected in 1854 under the "Opposition Party" ticket as the second-most powerful party in Congress. Minnesota and Oregon joined the union before the next election, and elected their respective Congressional delegations to the 35th Congress.

The history of the United States Whig Party lasted from the establishment of the Whig Party early in President Andrew Jackson's second term (1833–1837) to the collapse of the party during the term of President Franklin Pierce (1853–1857).


  1. "Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections". The American Presidency Project. UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Eugene H. Roseboom. A History of Presidential Elections. p. 162.
  3. National Party Conventions, 1831–1976. Congressional Quarterly. 1979.
  4. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. American Presidential Elections. p. 1020.
  5. Eugene H. Roseboom. A History of Presidential Elections. p. 159.
  6. Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union: A House Dividing 1852–1857 (1947) 2:467
  7. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. American Presidential Elections. pp. 1022–1023.
  8. Eugene H. Roseboom. A History of Presidential Elections. p. 160.
  9. Douglas R. Egerton, "The Slaves’ Election: Frémont, Freedom, and the Slave Conspiracies of 1856." Civil War History 61#1 (2015): 35–63.
  10. Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union: A House Dividing, 1852–1857 (1947) pp. 496–502
  11. 1 2 Eugene H. Roseboom. A History of Presidential Elections. p. 166.
  12. Murse, Tom. "Last Time Consecutive Democratic Presidents Were Elected" . Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  13. Kesavan, Vasan (2001–2002). ""Is the Electoral Count Act Unconstitutional?"". NC Law Review. 80 (2001–2002). Archived from the original on December 29, 2020. Retrieved December 30, 2020.

Further reading

Primary sources