What appealed to northern voters about the Republican Party? How did this lead to Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 presidential election?

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Northern voters warmed to the Republican Party, as it was implacably opposed to the extension of slavery. This issue had been a running sore in American politics for some time, and no white politicians seemed to have the political will or courage to tackle the problem head-on. Instead, a number...

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Northern voters warmed to the Republican Party, as it was implacably opposed to the extension of slavery. This issue had been a running sore in American politics for some time, and no white politicians seemed to have the political will or courage to tackle the problem head-on. Instead, a number of unworkable compromises had been cobbled together over time, which tried, but failed, to reconcile the competing interests of slave states and free states.

The Republican Party's platform in the 1860 election appealed directly to majority Northern sentiment concerning slavery. The platform pledged that it would not interfere with slavery in the individual states but would oppose its extension into the territories. This satisfied many who, while professing strong opposition to slavery in principle, nonetheless thought that it would be impossible to abolish it altogether.

Not surprisingly, abolitionists were deeply disappointed by the Republican platform and by the nomination of Lincoln as the party's presidential candidate. Yet it's fair to say that Lincoln's—and that of the Republican Party as a whole—position on slavery was much more in tune with public opinion in the North, which helps to explain why Lincoln won the 1860 election.

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Northern voters wanted a political party that was against the existence of slavery. They were frustrated by the idea of popular sovereignty that Stephen A. Douglas from the Northern Democrats supported, because it still allowed the potential for slavery to occur. For those northerners who were opposed to slavery, the Republican Party offered the best hope that slavery might end.

This desire to end slavery opened the door to Abraham Lincoln receiving the nomination of the Republican Party in 1860. Abraham Lincoln became famous in the Lincoln-Douglas debates for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois in 1858. Abraham Lincoln made it clear that he was against slavery, and especially the spread of it, in these debates. While Lincoln stated in the campaign for the presidency in 1860 that he wouldn’t end slavery where it already existed, he did reinforce the idea that he was opposed to the spread of slavery. Abraham Lincoln defeated the other candidates in the northern states. The Democrats had split their votes between two candidates. Thus, by winning so many northern states, Abraham Lincoln won the election without winning one southern state.

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