How did the compromise election of James Buchanan postpone the possible start of the Civil War? Why was the election of Abraham Lincoln so objectionable to states like South Carolina? Discuss the aftermath of Lincoln’s election in 1860 and South Carolina’s reaction.
In the 1856 Presidential Election, republican John Fremont was pitted against democrat James Buchanan. Republicans were running on the platform of freedom (of speech, press and soil) and it was feared that Fremont's election would push the country into civil war. Throughout the decade of 1850, tensions were running high between the liberal Northern States and the Southern States. James Buchanan carried five northern states and virtually all of the South (except Maryland) and won the election. It was his election that postponed the civil war; had Fremont won the election, many believe the war would have arrived much sooner.
States like South Carolina were dependent on agriculture and slaves were required for carrying out the hard labor in the fields. At that time, South Carolina was a major producer of cotton and it felt that its position as the dominant player would be affected if an anti-slavery liberal like Lincoln was elected as the president and hence such states opposed his election.
Immediately after the election of Lincoln, many southern states including South Carolina started deliberations on whether to stay in the union or secede from it. Finally on Dec 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the US. Apart from these deliberations, southern states were also preparing their armies to defend vital positions and also to capture strategic positions in the north. Senators from South Carolina also resigned from the senate. These events spread throughout the other states and finally led to civil war in the US.