The 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago is almost devoid of delegates from the Southern states. Seward leads on the first ballot, but then Judge David Davis and his allies rally support for Lincoln, who wins on the third ballot. The platform he will run on rejects the Kansas-Nebraska Act and opposes any further spread of slavery in the West. This, of course, is anathema to the Southern states.
Lincoln’s campaign enlists a corps of “Wide Awakes” who support “Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter” from out west. Meanwhile the Democratic opposition is in a shambles, after fracturing into three factions: Northerners backing Douglass, Southern firebrands favoring John C. Breckinridge, and pro-Union centrists supporting John Bell. When the ballots are in, Lincoln is elected President of the United States, with only 39% of the popular votes, but a narrow majority in the Electoral College.
On February 18, 1861, ex-Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi is inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America, in Montgomery. Alabama. He says that all the new nation wants is to be “left alone” to pursue its own interests in peace.
Between 1854 and 1860, Lincoln will engage Douglas on the local and national stage over whether or not slavery will be allowed to expand into the West. As these debates evolve, a new political party forms up to contend with the Douglas Democrats. At first called the Free Soil Party, it morphs into the Republican Party in 1856. While the apparent head of the Republicans is NY Governor Henry Seward, Lincoln supporters are gaining momentum.
Abraham Lincoln is drawn back into politics in response to the open conflict between the North and South over expanding slavery west of the Mississippi River. Instead of a flat out prohibition, the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act has left the decision in the hands of each new state to declare itself as either “Free or Slave” when seeking admission to the Union. This Act is the brainchild of Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas.
Men like the South Carolinian, Edmund Ruffin, regard Lincoln’s victory as a catastrophe for the South and a violation of the 1787 Constitutional contract that formed the Union. Between the time he is elected in December 1860 and inaugurated in March 1861, seven Southern states have already left the Union.