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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: Page 1
Feb 26, 2024

The Presidential election of 1860 is one we Americans know well. That election sent 
Abraham Lincoln to the White House, southern enslavers to the exit door, and the United States into a bloody Civil War. Lincoln’s leadership in those years and his tragic assassination in the last days of the war propelled the railsplitter into the pantheon of American Presidents.

But sometimes we forget that just a few months before the election, Lincoln looked like a long shot. His experience at the federal level amounted to one term in the House of Representatives. His Republican Party, founded in 1854, was only running its second Presidential campaign. And even in victory, Lincoln’s share of the popular vote fell just short of 40%.


How did Abraham Lincoln win a resounding victory in the electoral college with a minority of the popular vote? Why did the Democratic Party, which had dominated politics in the previous decade, lose to an upstart rival? And why, in the midst of a fierce battle over American slavery that ultimately broke the country apart, did John Bell – a third party candidate that you’ve probably never heard of – have a reasonable chance of winning the 
Presidency by skirting the issue all together? Let’s find out.

Welcome to The Road To Now’s Third Party Elections Series. Today: Part 2- The Election of 1860 with Michael Green.


Dr. Michael Green is Associate Professor of History at UNLV and the author of multiple 
books on the politics of mid 19th century America, including Lincoln and the Election of 1860 (Southern Illinois University Press, 2011).

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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