I was looking at the Electoral College maps at 270toWin and noticed something interesting about the 1860 election that I had not seen before. The ranking by Electoral votes had Lincoln with 180, Breckinridge with 72, Bell with 39, and Douglas with 12. Typical high school textbooks, in their inanity, depict that election as between Lincoln and Douglas because of the popular vote results. And while I knew there were other players, the map is pretty clear on how the votes split. Lincoln won the North and West. Douglas won Missouri and half of New Jersey’s votes. Breckinridge won the South. And Bell? Bell took the border states of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Now what’s interesting here is that before winning three border states as the candidate of the Constitutional Union party, John C. Bell was in a lithograph published by Harper’s of “prominent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination at the Chicago.” The dynamics of the 1860 election are pretty interesting, and I’d like to know more about them. Perhaps if the Post Office had permitted those seditious Republican tracts to be delivered to the citizens of those states, and perhaps if the Republican candidates were on the ballot, then perhaps, too, Lincoln might have found more kindred spirits in the South.