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The Election Of 1860 And Lincolns Platform

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The election of 1860 was one like no other, boiling down to four main candidates; Abraham Lincoln (republican), Stephen Douglas (democrat), John Breckinridge (southern democratic) and John Bell (constitutional union). This was a very intense and stressful point in American history due to many big political changes happening in a short period of time. The main focus of this election as America was evolving was individual state rights and slavery policies. By looking at Lincoln’s presidential platform we can see the promises he made and issues he had to deal with during this era. This is important because it was a national crisis, and by looking at this we are able to see Lincoln’s leadership and ability to resolve issues in his own country. Looking at specifically plank nine in Lincoln’s platform; he explains how anyone in the US is subject to freedom. Looking at this we are able to analyze what promises were made, why they he had made them and maintain them and how this related to a core theme of a new world for everyone.

Before looking into specific planks in Lincolns platform, a sense of assurance, protection or mild supervision from the federal government stood out as common theme among candidates. Each platform indicated at some point that there is a sense of oath, support and guarantee of checks in balances that will be implemented in the federal government. Each candidate in their own pay also promised that the federal government will enforce the laws of the country – as the country was in a hectic state. Each candidate wanted to give a sense of unity and sense of trust to each state – mostly targeting the white population as some had radical views and ideologies about slave law.

During the election of 1860 there was a lot of turmoil happening among some of the candidates. The democrats where divided due to separating opinions of slavery. Typically democrats whom were located more in the southern region had more of a hands off government style where they could essentially govern themselves. Northern democrats wanted a unified federal government to oversee all political processes. The constitutional party did take either side on slavery rather just assured they would follow traditional constitution style government. Republics had the most unified base and had a moderate belief on slaver. In Lincolns platform, plank nine states:

“That we brand the recent re-opening of the African slave-trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.”

Most people from the north had a very moderate view on slavery, many fighting to abolish it completely. This attitude had been reflected in the politicians as well; promising to the people of he were to be elected he would restore the basic principles America was built on. Aside from social justice and providing land, liberty and property rights to everyone in the country this was also a brilliant political campaign for Lincoln. Lincoln had gained so much trust in his people he caught nicknames such as, Honest Abe and The Railsplitter. Lincoln represented a hard working farm boy who understood the people and wanted liberty. This political stunt proved to work when analyzing election results as he had won the electoral college despite having a 40% nationwide popularity vote with four opponents.

It turns out even in some southern states he never appeared on the ballot and still won with how much support he had from the north.

In order for Lincoln as president to be able to keep his promises he has to develop a plan for what happens if state either revolt or simply do not follow the national law. These measures could be anywhere from increasing tax on certain states, fines, federal government support to any potential victims of slavery and a constant moderation. Also developing a singular federal government military could help as a last resort of needed to forcibly stop a slavery situation in the south. These are all measures that would be essential to have to insure that slavery has come to a full halt.

To fully understand why Lincoln had put this plank in his platform you have to look a few dozen years back in history. Early in our studies we had learned about how the British colonist had broken from British control because of the poor treatment and harsh living situation for their slaves. America was originally founded on freedom and liberty and shortly after as the country began to grow they immediately went back to their old ways. Looking at plank eight – Lincoln promises freedom and liberty for everyone in the country, in plank nine he assures to the people that there will be federal actions taken if this law is not honored and kept.

To fully understand why this plank is in here you have to look at the past; this directly related to the central course theme of a “New world” for everyone. These promises have been made to the American people before but quickly they had gone back to their old ways – making this a new world for EVERYONE. Lincoln wants this to be a complete new approach and style of government protection. This was going to be a completely new world for everyone in America; the federal government to act on slavery issues occurring post election, farmers learning how to work and maintain business without slaves and lastly the Africans as free people to find their place in society.

Looking though the different platforms given to the American people in the election of 1860 we are able to recognize the different style of promises that were made to the American people and analyze them further to understand why is was said and how it was going to maintained. Lincoln winning by a landslide promised to bring this “new world” of liberty and freedom to the American people. He has also promised to uphold these new laws and provide federal protection to maintain it. Lincoln won the trust of the people – leading him to a paradigm shift – leading the people to a new way of thinking.

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