The Election of 1856
2) Similar to Pierce’s nomination in 1852, Democrats
nominated James Buchanan of Pennsylvania
because his relative obscurity made him free of
controversy. This strategy briefly united the
divided Democrats, but it unfortunately gave the
White House to unqualified and inept leaders
during a period of great national crisis.
The Election of 1856
3) The controversy of the Kansas Nebraska Act and the
events of Bleeding Kansas united northern Whigs, FreeSoilers, and abolitionists under the banner of the new
Republican Party. The Republicans nominated General
John C. Fremont, the “Pathfinder” of the MexicanAmerican War. The Republican platform called for the
non-extension of slavery and the Democrats declared
their support for the doctrine of “Popular Sovereignty.”
The Election of 1856
4) A nativist (anti-immigrant) faction of the Whigs formed the
Know-Nothing Party in order to organize Protestant
opposition to the influx of Catholics that immigrated to
northern cities from Germany and Ireland. The KnowNothings nominated ex-President Millard Fillmore. The
small third party mostly helped Buchanan and Democrats
into the White House by taking northern votes away from
the Republicans.
John C. Fremont (R)
Millard Fillmore (K-N)
James Buchanan (D)
The Dred Scott Decision
1) Dred Scott was a black slave
that was owned by Dr. David
Emerson, a surgeon in the
U.S. Army. During the 1830s,
Dr. Emerson was stationed at
northern forts in Illinois and
the Wisconsin Territory.
Despite Emerson’s move to
free territory, Dred Scott
accompanied his master and
was hired out to work for local
The Dred Scott Decision
2) After living in free territory for five years, Dr. Emerson sent
for Scott to join him in slave-holding Missouri. Scott
obeyed and returned south with his new wife and
children to join his master in St. Louis. In 1843, Dr.
Emerson unexpectedly died and his widow, Irene
Emerson continued to rent out the labor of Dred Scott for
the next three years. In 1846, Dred Scott tried to
purchase his freedom, but Mrs. Emerson refused.
The Dred Scott Decision
Missouri Supreme Court
3) Scott sued the widow Emerson on the basis that his
previous residence in free territory in Illinois and
Wisconsin constituted his emancipation as a slave. A
Missouri court sided with Dred Scott, but the widow
Emerson successfully appealed the case to the state
Supreme Court that reversed the decision.
The Dred Scott Decision
4) With the help of wealthy abolitionists, Dred
Scott’s case was appealed before the U.S.
Supreme Court. Under the leadership of Chief
Justice Roger B. Taney of slave-holding
Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that Dred
Scott was a slave and not a citizen, and therefore
did not posses the right to sue.
The Dred Scott Decision
5) Chief Justice Taney
wrote, “beings of an
inferior order, and
altogether unfit to
associate with the white
race, either in social or
political relations, and
so far inferior that they
[have] no rights which
[a] white man [is] bound
to respect.”
The Dred Scott Decision
6) Taney could have simply dismissed the case on
the technicality of Scott’s citizenship, but the
southern majority on the Court attempted to use
the case to ensure future legal protection for the
institution of slavery.
The Dred Scott Decision
7) In addition to denying Dred Scott’s citizenship and legal
rights, the Supreme Court specifically identified slaves
as private property that fell under the protection of the
5th Amendment. Because the 5th Amendment
specifically prohibits Congress from denying the right of
private property, the ruling denied Congress of its power
to regulate slavery.
The Dred Scott Decision
8) Under the Dred Scott decision, slaves could be
taken into any territory and legally held there in
slavery. This earth-shattering precedent
suggested that all previous laws that banned
slavery were unconstitutional.
The Dred Scott Decision
9) The Dred Scott decision
emphatically declared that
slavery could not legally be
banned anywhere.
Southerners celebrated the
decision as a great victory
and some extremists
believed that it reopened
the possibility that slavery
could spread into the
territories. Southerners
were confident that the
ruling represented an
irreversible legal protection
for their “peculiar
The Dred Scott Decision
12) “Free-soil” Republicans were infuriated by the
decision and were further convinced that there
was a southern conspiracy to extend slavery.
Northern Democrats also stood in opposition to
the decision and continued to support the
“Popular Sovereignty” doctrine of Senator
Stephen A. Douglas.
The Dred Scott Decision
13) In 1858, the Republican Party nominated
Abraham Lincoln to challenge incumbent
Stephen A. Douglas for his Illinois Senate seat.
Upon accepting his party’s nomination, Lincoln
delivered his historic “House Divided” speech in
Springfield, Illinois.
The Dred Scott Decision
14) Lincoln declared, “A house
divided against itself
cannot stand. I believe this
government cannot
endure, permanently half
slave and half free. I do not
expect the Union to be
dissolved — I do not
expect the house to fall —
but I do expect it will cease
to be divided. It will
become all one thing or all
the other.”
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
1) Abraham Lincoln was born
to a poor frontier family in
a Kentucky log cabin in
1809. Reflecting his
pioneering background, a
young Lincoln was
employed as a log splitter
for fence rails. In spite of
his rough environment,
Lincoln proved to be an
industrious youth with an
unquenchable thirst for
Replica of Lincoln family home in Hodgenville, Kentucky
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
5) Lincoln earned a reputation for strongly opposing
slavery and quickly rose to prominence within
the new Republican Party. Lincoln was one of
the top choices for Vice-President on the ticket
with John C. Fremont in the election of 1856.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
6) As mandated by the original Constitution, the
Senators from each state were still elected by the
members of the state legislature. Despite a limited
electorate, the 1858 Illinois Senate race attracted
widespread national attention because it
represented a decisive battle over slavery and the
doctrine of popular sovereignty.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
7) The implications of the 1857 Dred Scott decision
gave added weight to Lincoln’s challenge to
Democrat Stephen A. Douglas and his Illinois
Senate seat. In an attempt to sway northern
support away from the Democrats, Lincoln
daringly challenged Douglas to a series of
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
8) Known for his stunning
oratorical skills,
Douglas eagerly
accepted the challenge
from his Republican
opponent. The lanky
“rail-splitter” faced off
against the stout “Little
Giant” in a series of
seven debates from
August – October 1858.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
9) All seven debates largely centered
around the issue of slavery.
Douglass accused Lincoln of
being an abolitionist and he
criticized him for suggesting that
the Declaration of Independence
also applied to blacks. Lincoln
criticized the Kansas-Nebraska
Act, blamed Douglas for
Bleeding Kansas, and asserted
that “popular sovereignty” was
an attempt to extend and
nationalize slavery.
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
12) Douglas was able to exploit
racist anxieties in Illinois in
order to defeat Lincoln. Illinois
was a free-soil state that had
banned free blacks from settling
within its borders. In one debate
Douglas declared, “If you desire
negro citizenship, if you desire to
allow them to come into the State
and settle with the white man, if
you desire them to vote on an
equality with yourselves…then
support Mr. Lincoln and the Black
Republican party, who are in favor
of the citizenship of the negro. For
one, I am opposed to negro
citizenship in any and every form.
I believe this Government was
made on the white basis.”
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
13) Northern Democrats retained control of the
state legislature in Illinois, enabling Douglas to
defeat Lincoln in the Senate race. However,
the Lincoln-Douglas debates gained national
attention and came to represent the intense
national debate concerning slavery.
The Election of 1860
1) The election of 1860 revealed that the Democratic Party
was hopelessly divided between bitter sectional factions.
When northern Democrats tried to nominate Illinois
Senator Stephen A. Douglas at the party’s National
Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, angry southern
delegates refused to accept his “Freeport Doctrine” on
popular sovereignty and walked out in protest.
The Election of 1860
2) Southern Democrats later
held their own
convention in Baltimore,
Maryland and nominated
John C. Breckinridge
from slave-holding
Kentucky. The southern
faction of the party
adopted a platform that
supported the Dred Scott
decision of 1857.
The Election of 1860
4) The Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois
seemed ready to nominate New York Senator William H.
Seward, but his abolitionist reputation and his remarks
describing slavery as an “irrepressible conflict” made
him far too controversial. Abraham Lincoln’s moderate
politics and his proven commitment to “free-soil” earned
him the party’s nomination for President.
The Election of 1860
5) The Republicans offered a very broad
platform that exclusively appealed to
various groups of northerners:
A) Non-extension of slavery = abolitionists and
B) A protective tariff = northeastern industrialists
C) A transcontinental railroad = for northwesterners
D) Federally-funded internal improvements = for
E) Free western homesteads from public land =
for western pioneers (The Homestead Act)
The Election of 1860
6) The Republican Party was able to take advantage
of their divided opponents in order dominate the
populous free states of the North. The
Republican Party made no attempt to campaign
in the South and Lincoln’s name wasn’t even
allowed on the ballot in ten southern states.
The Election of 1860
7) Lincoln captured only 40%
of the popular vote, but
won a majority of the
electoral college by
winning the more
populous states in the
north. As a purely
sectional candidate that
voiced moral opposition
to slavery, Lincoln’s
election inevitably caused
southern opposition.
The Election of 1860
8) Four days after the election of Lincoln, the South Carolina
legislature voted unanimously to call for a special state
convention. They met in December of 1860 and they
voted unanimously to secede from the Union. In the next
six weeks, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia,
Louisiana, and Texas voted to join the South Carolinians.
The Election of 1860
9) Delegates from these “Deep South” states met in
Montgomery, Alabama in February 1861 and
formed the Confederate States of America. They
elected former Senator Jefferson Davis of
Mississippi as their President.
1) The eleven states of the southern
Confederacy felt compelled to secede from
the Union because of several sectional
disputes, but most were directly related to
states’ rights and slavery.
3) The South believed that it was economically superior to the
North and many thought that secession was their chance
to finally become self sufficient. The South desperately
wanted to establish an independent banking system,
lower tariff rates, and direct free trade with Europe – All
were prevented by the protections that had previously
been reserved for northeastern industry.
4) Many Southerners believed that secession
represented a second American
Revolution. Just as they had done in 1776,
Southerners believed that they were
declaring their independence from
northern oppressions and tyranny.
5) The thirteen colonies voluntarily established the Union by
ratifying the Constitution in 1789. Many Founding
Fathers intended the Union to be a permanent institution,
but the Constitution remained silent concerning the act
of secession. Southerners believed that the Union
established by the Constitution was a voluntary compact
and they felt that secession was necessary in order to
protect their political rights.