Secession and Civil War Questions and Answers

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How did the election of 1860 cause the Civil War?

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The election of 1860 was one of the major causes of the Civil War; however, it was not the main cause. The Democratic Party split in the 1860 election between Stephen Douglas and John Breckenridge. Douglas did not poll well, carrying Missouri. Breckenridge carried the entire Deep South. John Bell of Tennessee ran as a Constitutional Union candidate who pledged to uphold whatever the Constitution said about slavery. He carried Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Abraham Lincoln ran as the Republican candidate. The main Republican plank in 1860 was to keep slavery out of the new Western territories. Even though Lincoln stated that he would not fight slavery where it already existed, the lower southern states felt threatened and started to leave the Union upon his election, starting with South Carolina in December 1860. Lincoln was elected with a minority of the popular vote, and many Southern polls did not even show him on the ballot. Southern slave holders felt as though they were going to be oppressed; therefore, they led their states out of the Union.

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