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Eighteenth American presidential election of 1856

1856 election map

AndyHogan14, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


The 1856 election took place on Tuesday, November 4, 1856.


Final tickets

Campaining & major issues

President Pierce's first term did not go so well. By 1856, the country was super divided over the big issue of slavery. The North and South seemed to hate each other to the point where many weren't sure if the United States could last as a country. Because of Pierce's performance as president, the Democratic party lost many seats in Congress in the midterm elections. The Whig Party had disentegrated by 1856, and so the American Party, also known by opponents as the Know-Nothing Party (which they embraced for some reason) gained influence, as well as a brand new, northern anti-slavery party called the Republican party (Hey, I've heard of that before). The choices in this election were exactly how one would have expected: one pro-slavery (Democrats), one anti-slavery (Republicans) and one who just completely avoided slavery and focused on limiting Catholic immigration instead (Know-Nothing) (Yeah, maybe that wasn't expected). This is one of those elections where the choices, looking back, were not great, and the election in the next four years would matter a lot more.

Electoral college & turn-out

The electoral college stayed the same at 296 electors; 149 needed to win. 4,054,647 people voted in this election.


First place (winner): James Buchanan & John C. Breckinridge

174/296 electoral votes

45.28% of the popular vote

Second place: John C. Frémont & William Dayton

114/296 electoral votes

33.11% of the popular vote

Third place: Millard Fillmore & Andrew Donelson

8/296 electoral votes

21.53% of the popular vote

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