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Constitutional Union Party

The Constitutional Union Party's ticket in 1860

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The Constitutional Union Party was assembled in December 1859, consisting mostly of conservative Whigs. Officially established in February 1860, the party aimed to change the outcome of the 1860 election. In that election, there were three other major parties that ran presidential candidates: The anti-slavery Republicans, pro-slavery Northern Democrats, and extreme pro-slavery Southern Democrats. All three had views that were divided across the country, so the Constitutional Union party thought that running a candidate that avoided the slavery issue would make sure no candidate could get the majority of the vote, meaning the House would vote, with it likely voting in their favor.


The party was a compromise party that appealed to those that wanted to avoid the slavery issue and instead focus on other matters. The party believed in simply following exactly what the Constitution said.


The party ran John Bell & Edward Everett in the 1860 election, but they lost in last place. As the country divided in 1861, the party's platform became pointless, and it dissolved. Some members remained together, though, and were an influence in the statehood of West Virginia. In 1863, when Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, the speaker before him was Edward Everett, the party's vice-presidential candidate in 1860.

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