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U.S. Presidential Election 1856

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The election of 1856 was the eighteenth presidential election in the United States. Democratic candidate James Buchanan defeated John C. Fremont, a Republican from California, and former President Millard Fillmore of the Know Nothing Party, to become the fifteenth President of the United States.

The central issue during the 1856 election was slavery, which had become a source of contention during the presidential campaigns. A secondary issue was that of immigration, on which the Know Nothing Party focused in their campaigns.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act had been a divisive issue for the Democratic Party. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed to allow the two new territories hold a popular vote to decide whether slavery would be legal in the territory. This idea was proposed by members of the Democratic Party. The Act resulted in a small but deadly civil war, which became known as Bleeding Kansas, and was a precursor to the American Civil War.

The Democratic Party turned on President Franklin Pierce, who had signed the act. Pierce became the first president in U.S. history that attempted to seek reelection and was denied by his party. Further, the Democratic Party used the slogan "Anybody but Pierce" for the 1856 election. Instead, the party chose James Buchanan, an ambassador to the United Kingdom, who warned the public that a Republican president would lead the country into civil war. His running mate was John C. Breckinridge from Kentucky.

Republican candidate John C. Fremont campaigned against the expansion of slavery, and took a stand against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The party chose William Dayton to be his running mate, over future President Abraham Lincoln. The Republican Party had formed to replace the Whig Party, which itself dissolved because of disagreements within the party over the issue of slavery. The Republicans opposed slavery and especially its expansion into new territories.

A third party, known as the Know-Nothings, or the American Party, formed in an attempt to become the second major political party in the United States, and to oppose the Democratic Party. The Know-Nothings focused their campaign on anti-immigration, choosing to ignore the issue of slavery entirely. Many candidates stepped up and attempted to earn the party nomination, but the Know-Nothings ultimately chose former President Millard Fillmore to represent the party. Fillmore had previously served as president after the death of President Zachary Taylor in 1850.

The Know-Nothing Party was fairly successful in the 1856 election, securing a number of electoral votes and about 20 percent of the popular vote. James Buchanan won the election with 174 electoral votes, but only received about 45 percent of the popular vote. Fremont came in just behind, with 114 electoral votes.

US Presidential Elections History
2012 US Presidential Election1936 US Presidential Election1860 US Presidential Election
2008 US Presidential Election1932 US Presidential Election1856 US Presidential Election
2004 US Presidential Election1928 US Presidential Election1852 US Presidential Election
2000 US Presidential Election1924 US Presidential Election1848 US Presidential Election
1996 US Presidential Election1920 US Presidential Election1844 US Presidential Election
1992 US Presidential Election1916 US Presidential Election1840 US Presidential Election
1988 US Presidential Election1912 US Presidential Election1836 US Presidential Election
1984 US Presidential Election1908 US Presidential Election1832 US Presidential Election
1980 US Presidential Election1904 US Presidential Election1828 US Presidential Election
1976 US Presidential Election1900 US Presidential Election1824 US Presidential Election
1972 US Presidential Election1896 US Presidential Election1820 US Presidential Election
1968 US Presidential Election1892 US Presidential Election1816 US Presidential Election
1964 US Presidential Election1888 US Presidential Election1812 US Presidential Election
1960 US Presidential Election1884 US Presidential Election1808 US Presidential Election
1956 US Presidential Election1880 US Presidential Election1804 US Presidential Election
1952 US Presidential Election1876 US Presidential Election1800 US Presidential Election
1948 US Presidential Election1872 US Presidential Election1796 US Presidential Election
1944 US Presidential Election1868 US Presidential Election1792 US Presidential Election
1940 US Presidential Election1864 US Presidential Election1789 US Presidential Election

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