Lesson: The Election of 1860 (Louisiana History)
| 21 Questions
Note from the author:
This is designed for a state history class, but could easily be used in other contexts.

Constructive comments are very welcome!

Learning Targets

Content Knowledge:
I can explain why Southern states saw the election of 1860 as a threat.
Historical Thinking Skill:
I can analyze primary and secondary sources.

Opening Activity--Review from Yesterday

1 pt
What were the three main trends in sectionalism?
1 pt
Why were Southerners getting nervous toward the end of the 1850s?

Meet the Candidates

Document 1: Candidates for President in 1860
The presidential election of 1860 demonstrated just how badly the country had divided over slavery. The Democrat Party struggled to agree on the party’s official stance on slavery and, as a result, had difficulty choosing a candidate. Officially, the nomination went to Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who still advocated for popular sovereignty as the way to solve the slavery issue. However, most of the Southern Democrats refused to vote at the convention and chose their own candidate, John C. Breckinridge, who argued for slavery to be a constitutionally-protected right in all places.

The newly-formed Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln as its candidate for president. Lincoln and his party did not call for the abolition of slavery in slave states, but it did oppose the expansion of slavery to new territories and states. A third party, the Constitutional Union Party, nominated John Bell, and avoided talking about slavery at all in hopes that ignoring the issue would allow the country to compromise and move on.
1 pt
Sort the candidates and their stances on slavery
  • John Bell
  • John Breckinridge
  • Stephen Douglas
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Avoided talking about slavery in hopes that the country could just move on.
  • Wanted slavery to be a constitutionally-protected right
  • Wanted to use popular sovereignty to settle any remaining questions on slavery
  • Wanted to ban slavery in future states, but did not want to end slavery in slave states
  • Republican
  • Northern Democrat
  • Southern Democrat
  • Constitutional Union
1 pt
Were any of the candidates planning to end slavery in the whole country?
1 pt
Which candidate would most Louisiana voters want to support? Why?

Election Results

Document 2: Map of 1860 Election Results
Document 3: 1860 Election Results by Region
1 pt
Who got the most votes in free states?
1 pt
Who got the most votes in Confederate states?
1 pt
How many votes did Abraham Lincoln get in Louisiana?
Document 4: Presidential Elections and Slave States, 1832-1860
1 pt
In the 30 years prior to the Civil War, which presidents had been able to win zero slave states and still win the presidency?
Abraham Lincoln, 1860
James Buchanan, 1856
Franklin Pierce, 1852
James Polk, 1848
James Polk, 1844
William Henry Harrison, 1840
Martin Van Buren, 1836
Andrew Jackson, 1832
1 pt
What's the trend in southern power over the election of presidents?
In 1860, Southern states were gaining power over the election of presidents in the 30 years before the Civil War.
In 1860, Southern states had the same power over the election of presidents in the 30 years before the Civil War.
In 1860, Southern states suddenly had way less power over the election of presidents than they had in the 30 years before the Civil War.
2 pts
Combine this knowledge with the growth of sectionalism from yesterday. How might Southerners see their role in the country changing? Explain.

Reactions to the Election

Document 5: “The Crisis!,” The Courier, November 1860, New Orleans
The election of Abraham Lincoln to the chief magistracy (presidency) of the country by the hordes of fanatics (extremists) who have been flocking to his standards since the opening of the Presidential campaign has awakened throughout the South a spirit of stubborn resistance which it will be found is impossible to quell…
The crisis now impending (coming soon) upon the whole country is a necessary consequence of the abnormal condition into which our dearest and most sacred institutions have been plunged by the success of our avowedly (publically admitted) unrelenting enemies…
The unmistakable fact stares us in the face that we are now in a state of danger unparalleled in the records of our history... Of one thing, however, the whole South may rest assured -- that the sons of Louisiana will not remain indifferent spectators of the drama about to be enacted, and if the sword is to be drawn, they will be found in the vanguard (front, leader) of the Southern phalanx (a formation of soldiers)...
1 pt
Which two phrases does The Courier use to describe Northern supporters of Lincoln?
"hordes of fanatics"
"abnormal condition"
"avowedly unrelenting enemies"
"a state of danger unparalleled"
"indifferent spectators"
1 pt
How does The Courier predict that Southerners will react to the Election?
Document 6: Excerpts from a Letter by Charles Schultz, a visitor to New Orleans in December 1860.
The excitement (increased emotion) about the result of the election seems to increase fast. The most talk I hear now [in New Orleans] is about the state of the country. Some anxiety appears to be felt as to the result. The Southern people think the result of the election is a sort of declaration of hostility by the North. Nearly every day Lincoln's effigy (a model of a person) is hanged in the principal streets and squares. When it is run up it is saluted with the firing of cannon & cheers. Secession is openly talked of, apparently with increasing confidence in its success.
1 pt
According to Charles Schultz, what do the people of New Orleans think the Election of 1860 means about how the North views them?
1 pt
According to Charles Schultz, what do the people of New Orleans seem to think of Abraham Lincoln? How do you know?
Document 7: “The Constitution--The Union--The Laws” The New Orleans Daily Crescent, November 1860.
The history of the Republican party of the North is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations (power stealing), all having in direct object the establishment of absolute tyranny over the slaveholding States. And all without the smallest warrant, excuse or justification…
They have robbed us of our property... they have invaded our States and killed our citizens, and finally they have capped the mighty pyramid of hostilities by electing Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency… All the Northern States, with the exception of New Jersey, voted for Lincoln. As he is fully dangerous to [the South’s] institutions, the fact of his election, by an overwhelming majority, is full of portentous (threatening) significance. It shows, beyond all question, the unmixed sectional animosity (hostility) with which an enormous majority of the Northern people regard us of the South
1 pt
What does The New Orleans Daily Crescent think is the goal of the Republican Party (Abraham Lincoln's party)?
1 pt
What event is The New Orleans Daily Crescent probably referencing with "they have invaded our States and killed our citizens"?
The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin
The Dred Scott court decision
The raid at Harper's Ferry
The Wilmot Proviso
Document 8: Quotes from Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, in a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1859
I neither then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way of interfering with the institution of Slavery, where it exists. I believe we have no power, under the Constitution of the United States; or rather under the form of government under which we live, to interfere with the institution of Slavery, or any other of the institutions of our sister States. I declared then and I now re-declare, that I have as little inclination to so interfere with the institution of Slavery where it now exists, as I believe we have no power to do so.

Abraham Lincoln, in a speech in New Haven, Connecticut, 1860
We think slavery a great moral wrong, and while we do not claim the right to touch it where it exists, we wish to treat it as a wrong in the territories, where our votes will reach it.

Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to Alexander Stephens, a Georgia Politician, 1860
Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears.

1 pt
What does Abraham Lincoln plan to do with slavery in states where it already exists?
1 pt
What does Abraham Lincoln plan to do with slavery in new territories or new states?
1 pt
Compare or contrast Lincoln's words to how the other primary sources viewed him. Do Southerner's views of Lincoln match what he has to say? Why or why not?
4 pts

Exit Ticket--Constructed Response

Explain why Southerners saw the Election of 1860 as a threat. Use document evidence from at least one of the documents in this lesson.
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