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Research Paper: The Presidential Election of 1860 as the Cause of American Civil War

4 pages
943 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Slavery was at the center of the 1860 American election; it had become an issue as early as the 1850s which led to the division of the United States with the northern side against slavery and the southern side in support for slavery. This division will no doubt have an impact on the upcoming presidential election that was to be conducted in 1860. The division was not evident until that time election took place when Abraham Lincoln got no votes in a total of 9 states in the southern and to make it more evident he did not appear on the ballot in some of the southern states. This eventually plunged America into a civil war.

Thesis statement

Did the American presidential election of 1860 the cause of civil war? The division that existed between the northern and the southern America was the cause the American civil war, but it became evident the time of election hence plunging the entire America into civil war. The upcoming presidential election of 1860 brought a lot of tension between the southern and northern America. Many activists pushed for political unity and social cohesion but it seemed like it was already late because the two sides could not conclude whether to abolish slave trade or not. The choice of presidential candidate from the south who opposed the abolition of slavery further created more political tension that was feared to plunge America into conflict.

Abraham Lincoln from Illinois State was a front-runner of the Republican Party, whose slogan stipulated that slavery was not to spread further than it had already had. The Republican also promised that the tariffs would be imposed to protect industries and further supported a law that granted free households in the western side to settlers. Since he mentioned that the federal state did not have any authority to stop slavery, he would then enforce Fugitive slavery laws. Abraham's opponents were John Cabell who was a southern democrat from Kentucky among other opponents. Since the division was evident during the election, in a total of nine hundred and ninety-six states in the south, Lincoln only won two of them, and his opponents experienced a similar outcome in the north, and this was a clear indication that America was no longer united at this point. I am in support of the northern side for the abolition of slave trade since it is inhuman to treat a section or a race of people as a slave yet machines had already been introduced to replace the slaves. Everybody should be treated equally and governed by the same laws of the land.

Abraham captured less percentage of the popular votes, but the sectional division that existed in the United States allowed him to trump in 17 states and four electoral votes in New Jersey. In as much as Lincoln did not win majority votes he eventually trumps the election with a total of 180 electoral votes. After the presidential election results, his opponents tried to demoralize his presidency, and through the power of checks and balances, the Democrats still had some hope in controlling the government which can protect the rights of its citizen from the south. The issue of succession also cropped in at this point even though it was associated with many dangers since it leads to conflict with the north and other states like Virginia

Some of the activist and politicians expressed their concern about the political turmoil that was to follow in the highly anticipated presidential election. For instance, a personal letter that was written by John H. Cochran to his mother expressed his political view about the existing political climate in the United States by then before the president of 1860. John seemed to be well acquitted with the historical accounts of the time before the presidential election, and he used this accounts to show justification his social and political views. He was aware of the possibility of succession after the election which could be imminent due to the south being pushed by the ideologies of the abolitionist and the north. Ideally, John created an early signal to the two sides and if possible the leaders and politicians from both rifts should have championed for unity and peace resolutions before the election.

Ideally, democracy should prevail in all elective positions as the citizens should be allowed to vote for leaders of their choice and their decision should be respected. Moreover, after the outcome of the election results, the opponents of the president elect should accept defeat and support the president-elect to build the nation. However, this was contrary to the American during this political climate. Lincoln victory pressed South Carolina to succeed from the United States. They had been actually on the brink to succeed, and the result of the election was their last sting. On receiving the results, South Carolina made a declaration that the union henceforth subsisting between South Carolina and other states which were under the name of the united states of America was thereby dissolved and this became the start of the civil war.



Cochran, John H. to his mother. October 8, 1860. In The Valley of the Shadows. Accessed January 16, 2018.

Imboden, J. D. to John McCue. December 3, 1860. In The Valley of the Shadows. Accessed January 16, 2018.

Cochran, John H. to his mother. December 11, 1860. In The Valley of the Shadows. Accessed January 17, 2018.

The Basis of Union." New York Tribune, August 31, 1859. Accessed January 16, 2018,

"Though Lincoln is Elected, There is no Danger." Staunton Spectator, November 13, 1860. November 13, 1860. Accessed January 16, 2018.


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