United States elections, 1860

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The 1860 United States general election elected the members of the 37th United States Congress. The election took place during the Third Party System, shortly before the start of the Civil War. The Republican Party won control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress, making it the fifth party (following the Federalist Party, Democratic-Republican Party, Democratic Party, and Whig Party) to accomplish that feat. The election is widely considered to be a realigning election.[1]

In the Presidential election, Republican former Representative Abraham Lincoln of Illinois defeated Democrats Vice President John C. Breckinridge and Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, as well as the Constitutional Union candidate, former Senator John Bell of Tennessee.[2] This was the last election before the start of the Civil War. Lincoln's victory made him the first Republican President.

Republicans lost seats, but won a majority in the House for the first time after several states seceded. Democrats remained the largest minority, but several Congressmen also identified as unionists.[3]

In the Senate, Republicans made moderate gains, but won a majority after several states seceded. The Democrats remained the largest minority party, though some Congressmen identified as unionists.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reichley, A. James (2000). The Life of the Parties (Paperback ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 8–12. 
  2. ^ "1860 Presidential Election". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present". United States Senate. Retrieved 25 June 2014.