The 1856 Democratic National Convention was the seventh political convention of the Democratic Party. Held from June 2 to June 6, 1856, at Smith & Nixon's Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, it was the first nominating convention to be held both in a city other than Baltimore and outside the original thirteen states. The party nominated James Buchanan, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, for President (denying re-nomination to incumbent President Franklin Pierce), and former Representative John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for Vice President.
|1856 Democratic National Convention|
|1856 presidential election|
Buchanan and Breckinridge
|Date(s)||June 2–6, 1856|
|Venue||Smith and Nixon's Hall|
|Presidential nominee||James Buchanan of |
|Vice Presidential nominee||John C. Breckinridge of |
The Democratic Party was wounded from its devastating losses in the 1854–1855 midterm elections. The party faced continued North-South sectional division over slavery-related issues, especially the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 and subsequent violence known as "Bleeding Kansas" from the civil strife in the Kansas Territory during its campaign for statehood. Two notable Democratic politicians, President Pierce and Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, were seen as being at the center of the controversies, which led many party members to look elsewhere for a new compromise candidate for president.
Called to order at noon on Monday, June 2, by the National Committee chair Robert Milligan McLane, Samuel Medary was made the temporary president. The first day, the convention did little more than appoint committees on credentials, organization, and resolutions (writing a "platform").
On the second day the organization committee (John L. Dawson chair) report was adopted and John Elliot Ward of Georgia was made the convention's president. The committee on credentials (James A. Bayard, Jr. chair) settled a dispute over the Missouri delegation, but needed more time for the thorny problem of competing delegations from New York.
June 4 saw the adoption of a platform (former National Committee chair Benjamin F. Hallett headed the committee on resolutions); the domestic portions were supported unanimously, the foreign policy planks by large margins. A separately reported plank on a railroad to the Pacific coast failed by a vote of 120 to 154.
On June 5, the New York problem was finally settled by seating half of each of the competing delegations. Nominations for President were then made.
The four men nominated were all at one time or another nominated by the party for the Chief Executive office: James Buchanan of Pennsylvania (nominated in 1856), President Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire (1852), Senator Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois (1860), and Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan (1848). On the first ballot, Buchanan led with 135½ votes. Pierce had 122½, Douglas 33, and Cass 5 (4 from the unhappy California delegation). The fourteen ballots taken that day saw Pierce's totals fall, mostly to the benefit of Senator Douglas.
On June 6, Pierce's name was withdrawn. As a result, Pierce became the first and only person elected to the presidency to be denied renomination by his party. On the 15th ballot, most of Pierce's delegates shifted to Douglas in an attempt to stop Buchanan. However, Douglas decided to withdraw from the uphill contest against Buchanan because he feared prolonged participation might endanger the party's chances in the general election. William A. Richardson, the delegate who had nominated Douglas, withdrew the Senator's name and Buchanan was nominated on the 17th ballot.
Eleven candidates were nominated for the vice presidency, but a number of them attempted to withdraw themselves from consideration, among them the eventual nominee, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. Breckinridge supported fellow Kentuckian Linn Boyd for the vice presidential nomination. However, following a draft effort led by the delegation from Vermont, Breckinridge was nominated on the second ballot. As Vermont's David Allen Smalley stated, "No Democrat has a right to refuse his services when his country calls."
|Vice Presidential Ballot|
|Ballot||1st Before Shifts||1st After Shifts||2nd After Shifts|
|John A. Quitman||60||59||-|
|John C. Breckinridge||37||51||296|
|Herschel V. Johnson||31||31||-|
|Aaron V. Brown||29||29||-|
|James C. Dobbin||15||13||-|
|Thomas J. Rusk||15||7||-|
The Buchanan-Breckinridge ticket went on to win the 1856 presidential election, defeating John C. Fremont with William L. Dayton from the new Republican Party, and a strong third party showing from the American Party of the "Know Nothings" represented by former President Millard Fillmore and Andrew J. Donelson.
|Democratic National Conventions||Succeeded by|
The 1856 Republican National Convention, also known as the first Republican National Convention, met from June 17 to June 19, 1856, at the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The gathering nominated John C. Frémont, formerly a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and Senator from California, and former Senator William Dayton of New Jersey for President and Vice President. Frémont and Dayton were the new party's standard-bearers in the 1856 presidential election. The convention also appointed a Republican National Committee to govern the new organization.The June 1856 Nominating Convention was preceded by an informal organizational convention held February 22–23, 1856 which elected a National Committee who set the dates of the convention and the terms for delegate participation.1856 United States elections
The 1856 United States elections elected the members of the 35th United States Congress. The election took place during a major national debate over slavery, with the issue of "Bleeding Kansas" taking center stage. Along with the 1854 election, this election saw the start of the Third Party System, as the Republican Party absorbed the Northern anti-slavery representatives who had been elected in 1854 under the "Opposition Party" ticket (consisting largely of former Whigs) as the second most powerful party in Congress. Minnesota and Oregon joined the union before the next election, and elected their respective Congressional delegations to the 35th Congress.
In the Presidential election, Democratic former Secretary of State James Buchanan defeated Republican General John Fremont and the American Party candidate, former President Millard Fillmore. Buchanan swept the South and split the North with Fremont, while Fillmore won Maryland. Buchanan had defeated incumbent President Franklin Pierce (the first elected president to lose his party's presidential nomination) and Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois on the 17th ballot at the 1856 Democratic National Convention. Fremont defeated Supreme Court Justice John McLean at the 1856 Republican National Convention to take the Republican nomination. Fillmore's third party candidacy took over twenty percent of the popular vote, the best popular vote showing by a third party until Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 candidacy.
In the House, Democrats won several seats to take the plurality, but narrowly missed taking the majority. The Republican Party established itself as the second largest party in the House, replacing the Opposition Party. The American Party lost numerous seats, but continued to maintain a presence in the House. Democrat James Lawrence Orr won election as Speaker of the House.
In the Senate, Democrats won minor gains, maintaining their commanding majority. The Republican Party replaced the Opposition Party as the second largest party, while the American Party picked up a small number of seats.1856 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1856 was the 18th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. In a three-way election, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican nominee John C. Frémont and American Party nominee Millard Fillmore.
This was the only time in U.S. history in which a political party denied renomination to the incumbent President and won. Incumbent Democratic President Franklin Pierce was widely unpopular due to the ongoing civil war in Kansas Territory, and Buchanan defeated Pierce at the 1856 Democratic National Convention. Buchanan, a former Secretary of State, had avoided the divisive debates over the Kansas–Nebraska Act by virtue of his service as the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Slavery, though not its abolition, was the main issue. Opposition to the extension of slavery into the territories drove the rise of the nascent Republican Party. The Republicans and the nativist Know Nothings (known formally as the American Party) competed to replace the moribund Whig Party as the primary opposition to the Democrats. The 1856 Republican National Convention nominated a ticket led by Frémont, an explorer and military officer who had served in the Mexican–American War. The Know Nothings, who ignored slavery and instead emphasized anti-immigration and anti-Catholic policies, nominated a ticket led by former Whig President Millard Fillmore. His political allies controlled the American Party and he welcomed the nomination, but Fillmore had not sought it and was in Europe during the nominating convention. The fact that two of the three nominees, Buchanan and Fillmore, appealed specifically in part because of their recent time abroad reflects severe domestic political turmoil.
The Democrats endorsed popular sovereignty as the method to determine slavery's legality for newly admitted states. Frémont decried the expansion of slavery, while Buchanan warned that the Republicans were extremists whose victory would lead to civil war. The Know Nothings attempted to present themselves as the one party capable of bridging the sectional divides. All three major parties found support in the North, but the Republicans had virtually no backing in the South.
Buchanan won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote, taking all but one slave state and five free states. His popular vote margin of 12.2% was the greatest margin between 1836 and 1904. However, the election was closer than it appears. A shift of a few thousand votes to Fillmore in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky would have transferred the election of the President to the incumbent House of Representatives, controlled by a new coalition of inchoate parties united in opposing the Democrats.
Frémont won a majority of electoral votes from free states and finished second in the nationwide popular vote, while Fillmore took 21.5% of the popular vote and carried Maryland. The Know Nothings soon collapsed as a national party, as most of its anti-slavery members joined the Republican Party after the Supreme Court's disastrous 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford. 1856 also proved to be the last Democratic presidential victory until 1884, as Republicans emerged as the dominant party during and after the Civil War.Ansel T. Walling
Ansel Tracy Walling (January 10, 1824 – June 22, 1896) was a U.S. Representative from Ohio.
Born in Otsego County, New York, Walling moved to Erie County, Pennsylvania, where he attended a local academy. He studied medicine and practiced a short time, and then learned the art of printing. He moved to Ohio in 1843 and engaged in newspaper work. He served as clerk of the Ohio General Assembly in 1851 and 1852. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1852 and practiced. He moved to Keokuk, Iowa, and was editor of the Daily Times 1855-1858. He served as delegate to the 1856 Democratic National Convention. He returned to Ohio in 1861 and settled in Circleville, where he resumed the practice of law. He served as member of the Ohio Senate in 1865. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1867 and was elected speaker pro tempore.
Walling was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1877). He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination. He again engaged in the practice of law.
He died in Circleville, Ohio, June 22, 1896, and was interred in Forest Cemetery.
Walling's house in Circleville has been well preserved to the present day; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Benjamin F. Hallett
Benjamin Franklin Hallett (December 2, 1797 – September 30, 1862) was a Massachusetts lawyer and Democratic Party activist, most notable as the first chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Benjamin Franklin Hallett was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts. After graduating from Brown University in 1816, he studied law and began a journalistic career in Providence, Rhode Island. He soon moved to Boston, where he began with the Boston Advocate, shifting to the Boston Daily Advertiser in 1827. At that time he espoused the views of the Anti-Masonic Party, but when that particular group went out of fashion he switched to the Democratic Party as an enemy of Henry Clay. He joined and became a prominent member of the Suffolk County, Massachusetts bar.David Allen Smalley
David Allen Smalley (April 6, 1809 – March 10, 1877) was a United States federal judge.Gideon J. Tucker
Gideon John Tucker (February 10, 1826 – July 1899) was an American lawyer, newspaper editor and politician. In 1866, as Surrogate of New York County, he wrote in a decision of a will case: "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session."Guy M. Bryan
Guy Morrison Bryan (January 12, 1821 – June 4, 1901) was a U.S. Representative from Texas.James Buchanan
James Buchanan Jr. (; April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was an American politician who served as the 15th president of the United States (1857–1861), serving immediately prior to the American Civil War. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the 17th United States secretary of state and had served in the Senate and House of Representatives before becoming president.
Buchanan was born in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania, to parents of Ulster Scots descent. He became a prominent lawyer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and won election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as a Federalist. In 1820, Buchanan won election to the United States House of Representatives, eventually becoming aligned with Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party. After serving as Jackson's Minister to Russia, Buchanan won election as a senator from Pennsylvania. In 1845, he accepted appointment as President James K. Polk's Secretary of State. A major contender for his party's presidential nomination throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Buchanan finally won his party's nomination in 1856, defeating incumbent President Pierce and Senator Stephen A. Douglas at the 1856 Democratic National Convention. Buchanan and his running mate, John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, defeated Republican John C. Frémont and Know-Nothing Millard Fillmore to win the 1856 election.
Shortly after his election, Buchanan lobbied the Supreme Court to issue a broad ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which he fully endorsed as president. He allied with the South in attempting to gain the admission of Kansas to the Union as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution. In the process, he alienated both Republican abolitionists and Northern Democrats, most of whom supported the principle of popular sovereignty in determining a new state's slaveholding status. He was often called a "doughface", a Northerner with Southern sympathies, and he fought with Douglas, the leader of the popular sovereignty faction, for control of the Democratic Party. In the midst of the growing sectional crisis, the Panic of 1857 struck the nation. Buchanan indicated in his 1857 inaugural address that he would not seek a second term, and he kept his word and did not run for re-election in the 1860 presidential election. Buchanan supported the North during the Civil War and publicly defended himself against charges that he was responsible for the war. He died in 1868 at age 77, and was also the last president to be born in the eighteenth century. He is the only president to remain a lifelong bachelor.
Buchanan aspired to be a president who would rank in history with George Washington, by using his tendencies toward neutrality and impartiality. Historians fault him, however, for his failure to address the issue of slavery and the secession of the southern states, bringing the nation to the brink of civil war. His inability to address the sharply divided pro-slavery and anti-slavery partisans with a unifying principle on the brink of the Civil War has led to his consistent ranking by historians as one of the worst presidents in American history. Historians who participated in a 2006 survey voted his failure to deal with secession as the worst presidential mistake ever made.Jefferson G. Thurber
Jefferson G. Thurber was a Democratic politician from Michigan who served in both houses of the Michigan Legislature.Thurber represented Monroe County in the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate between 1844 and 1852, and was the Speaker of the House during the 16th Legislatuare. He was also a delegate to the 1856 Democratic National Convention which nominated James Buchanan over the incumbent, President Franklin Pierce.Jefferson P. Kidder
Jefferson Parish Kidder (June 4, 1815 – October 2, 1883) was an American lawyer and jurist. He served as the non-voting delegate from the Dakota Territory to the United States House of Representatives.John Alexander Ahl
John Alexander Ahl (August 16, 1813 – April 25, 1882) was a surgeon, real estate developer, paper mill and iron furnace operator, railroad executive and United States Congressman from Pennsylvania. He was born in Strasburg, Pennsylvania in 1813.
He studied medicine at the University of Maryland, and graduated in 1832. He moved to Centerville, Pennsylvania, where he practiced medicine through 1856. That year, he began in the real estate business, bought a paper mill in Newville, Pennsylvania, and served as a delegate to the 1856 Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1857, leaving upon the completion of his first term. He then manufactured paper and operated an iron furnace in Sharpsburg, Maryland. He also served as the planner and the major builder of the Harrisburg and Potomac Railroad. He died in Newville in 1882, and is buried in Big Spring Presbyterian Cemetery.John C. Breckinridge
John Cabell Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer, politician, and soldier. He represented Kentucky in both houses of Congress and became the 14th and youngest-ever vice president of the United States, serving from 1857 to 1861. He was a member of the Democratic party. He served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War, but was expelled after joining the Confederate Army. He was appointed Confederate secretary of war in 1865.
Breckinridge was born near Lexington, Kentucky to a prominent local family. After non-combat service during the Mexican–American War, he was elected as a Democrat to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1849, where he took a states' rights position against interference with slavery. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1850, he allied with Stephen A. Douglas in support of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. After reapportionment in 1854 made his re-election unlikely, he declined to run for another term. He was nominated for vice-president at the 1856 Democratic National Convention to balance a ticket headed by James Buchanan. The Democrats won the election, but Breckinridge had little influence with Buchanan and, as presiding officer of the Senate, could not express his opinions in debates. He joined Buchanan in supporting the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution for Kansas, which led to a split in the Democratic Party. In 1859, he was elected to succeed Senator John J. Crittenden at the end of Crittenden's term in 1861.
After Southern Democrats walked out of the 1860 Democratic National Convention, the party's northern and southern factions held rival conventions in Baltimore that nominated Douglas and Breckinridge, respectively, for president. A third party, the Constitutional Union Party, nominated John Bell. These three men split the Southern vote, while more anti-slavery Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won all but three electoral votes in the North, allowing him to win the election. Breckinridge carried most of the Southern states. Taking his seat in the Senate, Breckinridge urged compromise to preserve the Union. Unionists were in control of the state legislature, and gained more support when Confederate forces moved into Kentucky.
Breckinridge fled behind Confederate lines. He was commissioned a brigadier general and then expelled from the Senate. Following the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, he was promoted to major general, and in October he was assigned to the Army of Mississippi under Braxton Bragg. After Bragg charged that Breckinridge's drunkenness had contributed to defeats at Stone River and Missionary Ridge, and after Breckinridge joined many other high-ranking officers in criticizing Bragg, he was transferred to the Trans-Allegheny Department, where he won his most significant victory in the 1864 Battle of New Market. After participating in Jubal Early's campaigns in the Shenandoah Valley, Breckinridge was charged with defending supplies in Tennessee and Virginia. In February 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed him Secretary of War. Concluding that the war was hopeless, he urged Davis to arrange a national surrender. After the fall of Richmond, Breckinridge ensured the preservation of Confederate records. He then escaped the country and lived abroad for more than three years. When President Andrew Johnson extended amnesty to all former Confederates in 1868, Breckinridge returned to Kentucky, but resisted all encouragement to resume his political career. War injuries sapped his health, and he died in 1875. Breckinridge is regarded as an effective military commander. Though well-liked in Kentucky, he was reviled by many in the North as a traitor.John Elliott Ward
John Elliott Ward (October 2, 1814 – November 29, 1902) was an American politician and diplomat. He served as United States Attorney for Georgia, mayor of Savannah, Georgia, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, president of the Georgia Senate, president of the 1856 Democratic National Convention, and United States Minister to China under James Buchanan. He resigned from his diplomatic post shortly after the outbreak of the American Civil War, returned to Savannah, and after the war, moved to New York City, where he practiced law for several years.Linn Boyd
Linn Boyd (November 22, 1800 – December 17, 1859) (also spelled "Lynn") was a prominent US politician of the 1840s and 1850s, and served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1851 to 1855. Boyd was elected to the House as a Democrat from Kentucky from 1835 to 1837 and again from 1839 to 1855, serving seven terms in the House. Boyd County, Kentucky is named in his honor.Presidency of Franklin Pierce
The presidency of Franklin Pierce began on March 4, 1853, when Franklin Pierce was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1857. Pierce, a Democrat from New Hampshire, took office as the 14th United States president after routing Whig Party nominee Winfield Scott in the 1852 presidential election. Seen by fellow Democrats as pleasant and accommodating to all the party's factions, Pierce, then a little-known politician, won the presidential nomination on the 49th ballot of the 1852 Democratic National Convention.
Pierce vetoed funding for internal improvements, called for a lower tariff, and vigorously enforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Influenced by the Young America expansionist movement, the Pierce administration completed the Gadsden land purchase from Mexico, clashed with Britain in Central America, and led a failed attempt to acquire Cuba from Spain. Pierce's administration was severely criticized after several of his diplomats issued the Ostend Manifesto, which called for the annexation of Cuba, by force if necessary. His popularity in the Northern free states declined sharply after he supported the 1854 Kansas–Nebraska Act, which nullified the Missouri Compromise. Passage of the act led directly to a long and violent conflict over the expansion of slavery in the American West.
In the wake of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, the Whig Party was destroyed and the Democratic Party was severely weakened. With the destruction of the Whigs, two new major parties emerged in the nativist American Party and the anti-slavery Republican Party. Pierce actively sought renomination at the 1856 Democratic National Convention, but he was defeated by James Buchanan, who had served as Pierce's ambassador to Britain. Buchanan went on to win the 1856 presidential election, defeating the nominees of the American Party and the Republican Party. Pierce is viewed by presidential historians as an inept chief executive, whose failure to stem the nation's inter–sectional conflict accelerated the course towards civil war. He is generally ranked as one of the worst presidents of all time.Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas (April 23, 1813 – June 3, 1861) was an American politician and lawyer from Illinois. He was the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1860 election, but he was defeated by Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln. Douglas had previously bested Lincoln in the 1858 Illinois election for the United States Senate, which is known for the Lincoln–Douglas debates. During the 1850s, Douglas was one of the foremost advocates of popular sovereignty, which held that each territory should be allowed to determine whether to permit slavery within its borders. Douglas was nicknamed the "Little Giant" because he was short in physical stature, but a forceful and dominant figure in politics.
Born in Brandon, Vermont, Douglas migrated to Jacksonville, Illinois in 1833 to establish a legal practice. He experienced early success in politics as a member of the Democratic Party, serving in the Illinois House of Representatives and various other positions. He resigned from the Supreme Court of Illinois upon being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1843. Douglas became an ally of President James K. Polk, and favored the annexation of Texas and the Mexican–American War. He was one of four Northern Democrats in the House to vote against the Wilmot Proviso, which would have banned slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico.
The Illinois legislature elected Douglas to the United States Senate in 1847, and Douglas emerged as a national party leader during the 1850s. Along with Henry Clay, he led the passage of the Compromise of 1850, which settled some of the territorial issues arising from the Mexican–American War. Douglas was a candidate for president at the 1852 Democratic National Convention, but lost the nomination to Franklin Pierce. Seeking to open the west for expansion, Douglas introduced the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854. Though Douglas had hoped the Kansas–Nebraska Act would ease sectional tensions, it elicited a strong reaction in the North and helped fuel the rise of the anti-slavery Republican Party. Douglas once again sought the presidency in 1856, but the 1856 Democratic National Convention instead nominated James Buchanan, who went on to win the election. Buchanan and Douglas split over the admission of Kansas as a slave state, as Douglas accused the pro-slavery Kansas legislature of having conducted an unfair election.
During the Lincoln–Douglas debates, Douglas articulated the Freeport Doctrine, which held that territories could effectively exclude slavery despite the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford. Disagreements over slavery led to the bolt of Southern delegates at the 1860 Democratic National Convention. The rump convention of Northern delegates nominated Douglas for president, while Southern Democrats threw their support behind John C. Breckinridge. In the 1860 election, Lincoln and Douglas were the main candidates in the North, while most Southerners supported either Breckinridge or John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party. Campaigning throughout the country during the election, Douglas warned of the dangers of secession and urged his audiences to stay loyal to the United States. Ultimately, Lincoln's strong support in the North led to his victory in the election. After the Battle of Fort Sumter, Douglas rallied support for the Union, but he died in June 1861.The Crofoot
The Crofoot is a mixed-use independent entertainment complex made up of 3 venues in one building (The Crofoot Ballroom, The Pike Room, The Vernors Room) in Pontiac, Michigan. The Crofoot is a busy concert venue for popular music acts, and other larger private events or festivals. All-age shows as well as adult-only concerts are held.William F. Coolbaugh
William Findlay Coolbaugh (July 1, 1821 – November 13, 1877) was an American politician and banker from Pennsylvania. After working his way up the ranks at a Philadelphia dry goods house, he began his own store in Burlington, Iowa in 1842. He became active in Iowa politics, serving in the Iowa Senate from 1854 to 1862. In 1855, he was the Democratic Party candidate to the United States Senate, but lost. In 1862, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to set up a banking house which became the Union National Bank of Chicago. Coolbaugh was also the father-in-law of Chief Justice of the United States Melville Fuller. Coolbaugh died of an apparent suicide in 1877.