The Presidential Election 1856

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Map Code: Ax00063

With a backdrop of political realignment and bitter disputes, the election of 1856 saw the first presidential candidate for the anti-slavery Republican party with John C. Frémont, a Californian senator who had spoken out against the Kansas-Nebraska act (allowing slave-ownership within those states) and supported measures to curb slavery. The Democratic party’s candidate was James Buchanan, former ambassador to the United Kingdom, who was seen to be distant from recent political turmoil over the issue of slavery. Buchanan’s popularity was furthered by his suggestions that the extreme anti-slavery position of the newly-formed Republicans could lead to civil war. The American party, known as the Know-Nothing party, put forward Millard Fillmore (13th president 1850–53 following Zachary Taylor’s death) to run for their anti-immigration party. Buchanan won, becoming the 15th president, but the Electoral College votes indicated that the Republicans only needed two more states to succeed in the next election.

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