1860 Democratic National Convention

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1860 Democratic National Convention
1860 Presidential Election
Conventions
Date(s) April 23-May 3, 1860
City Charleston, South Carolina
Venue South Carolina Institute Hall
Candidates
Presidential nominee Stephen A. Douglas of
Illinois (Official)
John C. Breckinridge of
Kentucky (Southern)
Vice Presidential nominee Herschel V. Johnson of
Georgia (Official)
Joseph Lane of
Oregon (Southern)
1856  ·  1864

The 1860 Democratic National Convention was one of the crucial events in the lead-up to the American Civil War. The official Democratic national convention adjourned in deadlock without choosing a candidate for President. A resumed official convention nominated Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois for President and former Senator Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia for Vice President. A "rump" convention, primarily Southerners, nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge for President and Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon for Vice President.

Charleston convention[edit]

The 1860 Democratic National Convention convened at South Carolina Institute Hall (destroyed in the Great Fire of 1861) in Charleston, South Carolina on 23 April 1860. Charleston was probably the most pro-slavery city in the U.S. at the time, and the galleries at the convention were packed with pro-slavery spectators.[1]

The front-runner for the nomination was Douglas. Douglas was considered a moderate on the slavery issue. With the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, he advanced the doctrine of popular sovereignty: allowing settlers in each Territory to decide for themselves whether slavery would be allowed - a change from the flat prohibition of slavery in most Territories under the Missouri Compromise.

But the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision declared that the Constitution protected slavery in all Territories.

In 1858, Douglas had narrowly won Senate re-election by professing the Freeport Doctrine, a de facto rejection of Dred Scott. Now militant Southern "Fire-eaters", such as William Yancey of Alabama, opposed him as a traitor. Many of them openly predicted a split in the party, and the election of Republican front-runner William H. Seward.[1]

The "fire-eaters" demanded the adoption of an explicitly pro-slavery platform. They wanted endorsement of Dred Scott and Congressional legislation protecting slavery in the territories. Northern Democrats refused to acquiesce. Dred Scott was extremely unpopular in the North, and the Northerners said they could not carry a single state with that platform. The minority (Northern) report on the platform was adopted on 30 April by a vote of 165 to 138. 50 Southern delegates then left the convention in protest.[1]

The departed delegates gathered at St. Andrews Hall on Broad Street, declared themselves the real convention, and awaited[citation needed] conciliatory action by the Institute Hall convention. That didn't happen. Instead, the Institute Hall convention proceeded to nominations. The dominant Douglas forces believed their path was now clear.[1]

Six major candidates were nominated at the convention: Douglas, former Treasury Secretary James Guthrie of Kentucky, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia, Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon, former Senator Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, and Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.

Douglas led on the first ballot, with 145½ of 253 votes cast. However, the convention rules required a two-thirds vote to approve a nomination. Furthermore, convention chairman Caleb Cushing ruled that two-thirds of the convention's whole membership was required, not just two-thirds of those actually present and voting.

Douglas thus needed 56½ more votes, or a total of 202, from the 253 delegates still present. The convention held 57 ballots, and though Douglas led on all of them, he never got more than 152 votes. On the 57th ballot, Douglas got 151½ votes, still 50½ votes short of the nomination, though far ahead of Guthrie, who was second with 65½. In desperation, on 3 May the delegates voted to adjourn the convention, and reconvene in Baltimore six weeks later.

Candidates receiving votes for president at the Charleston convention:

Presidential Candidates[edit]

Declined[edit]

A few votes went to former Senator Isaac Toucey of Connecticut, Senator James Pearce of Maryland, and Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi (the future Confederate President), who received one vote on over 50 ballots from Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts. Ironically, during the Civil War, Butler became a Union general, and Davis ordered him hanged as a criminal if ever captured.

Charleston Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th
Douglas 145.5 147 148.5 149 149.5 149.5 150.5 150.5 150.5 150.5 150.5 150.5 149.5 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150.5 150.5 152.5 151.5 151.5
Guthrie 35.5 36.5 42 37.5 37.5 39.5 38.5 38.5 41 39.5 39.5 39.5 39.5 41 41.5 42 42 41.5 41.5 42 41.5 41.5 41.5 41.5 41.5
Hunter 42 41.5 36 41.5 41 41 41 40.5 39.5 39 38 38 28.5 27 26.5 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 25 25 35
Lane 6 6 6 6 6 7 6 6 6 5.5 6.5 6.5 20 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 20.5 19.5 19.5 9.5
Dickinson 7 6.5 6.5 5 5 3 4 4.5 1 4 4 4 1 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 1 1 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 1.5 1.5
Johnson 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
Toucey 2.5 2.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davis 1.5 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pearce 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Charleston Presidential Ballot
Ballot 26th 27th 28th 29th 30th 31st 32nd 33rd 34th 35th 36th 37th 38th 39th 40th 41st 42nd 43rd 44th 45th 46th 47th 48th 49th 50th
Douglas 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 152.5 152.5 152.5 152 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5
Guthrie 41.5 42.5 42 42 45 47.5 47.5 47.5 47.5 47.5 48 64.5 66 66.5 66.5 66.5 66.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5
Hunter 25 25 25 25 25 32.5 22.5 22.5 22.5 22 22 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Lane 9 8 8 7.5 5.5 5.5 14.5 14.5 12.5 13 13 12.5 13 12.5 12.5 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 14 14
Dickinson 12 12 12.5 13 13 3 3 3 5 4.5 4.5 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4
Johnson 12 12 12 12 11 11 11 11 11 12 12 0.5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Toucey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davis 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.5 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pearce 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Charleston Presidential Ballot
Ballot 51st 52nd 53rd 54th 55th 56th 57th
Douglas 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5 151.5
Guthrie 65.5 65.5 65.5 61 65.5 65.5 65.5
Hunter 16 16 16 20.5 16 16 16
Lane 14 14 14 16 14 14 14
Dickinson 4 4 4 2 4 4 4
Johnson 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Toucey 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Davis 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pearce 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Baltimore convention[edit]

The Democrats convened again at the Front Street Theater (destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904) in Baltimore, Maryland on 18 June. The resumed convention's first business was to decide whether to re-admit the delegates who had bolted the Charleston session, or to seat replacement delegates who had been named by pro-Douglas Democrats in some states. The credentials committee's majority report recommended re-admitting all delegates except those from Louisiana and Alabama. The minority report recommended re-admitting some of the Louisiana and Alabama delegates as well. The committee's majority report was adopted 150-100½, and the new Louisiana and Alabama delegates were seated. Many additional delegates now withdrew, including most of the remaining Southern delegates, and also a scattering of delegates from northern and far western states.[2]

Presidential Candidates[edit]

Declined[edit]

The convention resumed voting on a nominee. On the first ballot, Douglas received 173½ of 190½ votes cast. On the second ballot he received 190½ votes of 203½ cast. At this point, the delegates overrode Cushing's earlier ruling. They declared by unanimous voice vote that Douglas, having received 2/3 of the votes cast, was nominated.

Baltimore Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd
Douglas 173.5 181.5
Guthrie 9 5.5
Breckinridge 5 7.5
Horatio Seymour 1 0
Thomas S. Bocock 1 0
Dickinson 0.5 0
Henry A. Wise 0.5 0

Senator Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama was nominated for Vice President, receiving 198½ votes. However, Fitzpatrick later refused the nomination, and was replaced by former Senator Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia.[2]

Vice Presidential Candidate[edit]

Declined[edit]

Vice Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st
Fitzpatrick 199.5

"Breckinridge Democrats" convention[edit]

The bolted Southern delegates and their allies reconvened at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. The rump convention nominated Breckinridge for President, and Lane for Vice President.

"Breckinridge Democrats" Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st
Breckinridge 81
Dickinson 24

Consequences[edit]

After the break-up of the Charleston convention, many of those present stated that the Republicans were now certain to win the 1860 Presidential election.[1] The actual division in Democratic popular votes did not affect any state outcomes except California, Oregon, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, and even if those states had been carried by a single Democratic nominee, the Republican nominee would still have had a majority of electoral votes.[2] However, the split in the Democratic Party organization was a serious handicap in many states, especially Pennsylvania, and almost certainly reduced the Democratic popular vote.

James M. McPherson suggested in Battle Cry of Freedom that the "Fire-eater" program of breaking up the convention and running a rival ticket was deliberately intended to bring about the election of a Republican as President, and thus trigger secession declarations by the slave-owning states. Whatever the "intent" of the fire-eaters may have been, doubtless many of them favored secession, and the logical, probable, and actual consequence of their actions was to fragment the Democratic party and thereby virtually ensure a Republican victory.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Catton, Bruce (1961). The Coming Fury. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc. pp. 37–40. 
  2. ^ a b c Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc. 1985. pp. 45–46, 169. ISBN 0-87187-339-7. 
  3. ^ Davis, Jefferson. The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government pp. 43-46

External links[edit]


Preceded by
1856
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
1864