The Coercive Acts Essay

2953 words - 12 pages

The election of 1860 is one of the most overt examples of extreme and irreconcilable ideological divisions within the United States. Often seen as a precipitant of the Civil War, it exposed the vast and deeply rooted conflict that existed over slavery in the South (“The Election of 1860”). This had a very profound effect on the overall political system that existed in America. As stated in “The Election of 1860”, conflict loosened the grip that the two-party system had had for the century prior to this election. Internal conflict dilapidated the Whig Party to a point where it could no longer function as a party. This left the Democrat and Republican parties as the assumed competing parties. The Democrats, however, was subject to a significant amount of internal conflict. The Democratic National Convention, taking place in Charleston, brought a lot of these conflicting ideas to the forefront of the election (“Election of 1860”). Stephen A. Douglas, a senator from Illinois, was a front-runner for his successful debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858. He argued for popular sovereignty in deciding whether slavery would be allowed to exist in the recently acquired American territories in the West (“The Election of 1860”) While these ideas appealed to the northern Democrats of Illinois, the idea that slavery had the opportunity to be outlawed “alienated Southern Democrats that he needed to gain the presidential nomination” (“Election of 1860 and Civil War”). His opponent in the primary was Vice President John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky. Breckenridge appealed much more to the Southern voter, promising the “congressional protection of slave property” which had been strong desire of the largely Southern platform committee at the time (“Election of 1860 and Civil War”) These two sects of the Democratic party wanted something with which there existed no form of compromise. The convention eventually fell apart completely, with 10 Southern States resigning, an no majority of delegates apportioned to a single candidate (Moredock). The remaining states decided to hold another convention in Baltimore, and the coalition of Southern states held their own in Richmond. Douglas and Breckenridge easily won at both of these conventions, with Breckenridge running as a “Southern Democrat”. While this divisiveness and controversy plagued the Democrats, the newly formed Republicans began strategizing on how they could win this election. The division in the Republican party seemed to present a perfect opportunity for them to win the race (“The Election of 1860”). The initial frontrunner in the race was New York senator and former governor William Henry Seward. He was popular among Republicans for his strong abolitionist and pro-immigration stances (“Election of 1860 and Civil War”). However, as the primaries progressed, he began to lose popularity with the party leadership. His views alienated voters on border states and “Know-Nothing” northerners who were largely...

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