Both the Whig party and the Democratic party were facing internal divisions over slavery – particularly after the Compromise of 1850, a series of resolutions that sought to defuse the growing crisis – and the election of 1852 would be the last for the Whigs. After failure to nominate a better-known candidate at the Democratic party convention, Franklin Pierce, a ‘dark horse’, was voted in on the 49th ballot. The Whigs went for another leading military figure in US army, General Winfield Scott. Despite campaign rallies and parades, there was a low voter turnout on the day. The Whigs suffered a huge defeat with only 42 electoral votes. By the standards of the day, Pierce was young to be president (48 years old); his vice president William R. King died just a few weeks after being sworn in.
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