February 17 Presidential Losers: John Freemont and Millard Fillmore
John Freemont and Millard Filmore, 1860
In the 1860 election, slavery was the driving issue. There were three camps: for it, against it, and don’t care. The “for it” candidate, Democrat James Buchanan, was destined to win, while the “against-it” candidate, Republican John Freemont would lose. Democrats said having a Republican in the White House would result in a civil war. The next election brought both. The third party, and my personal favorite, was the Know-Nothings, headed by former president Millard Fillmore, which is the coolest and most honest name for any political party ever. Why can’t we have more of that? The Dumb-Ass Party, for example, or the Lying-Thieving-Crooks-Who’d-Sell-Their-Own-Mother-for-a-Vote-Party. The Know-Nothings took no stand on slavery whatsoever, instead turning their attention to more pressing matters. Specifically, they didn’t want to let in any more Catholics, Irish, Germans, and various other European riff-raff. The Know-Nothings were proud Americans descended from Germans, Irish, and various European riff-raff. They also called themselves “The Native American Party” which sounds like they’d have let in a bunch of Indians, which in itself would’ve made sense, because the Indians would have had a lot to say about the folly of unchecked immigration. Unfortunately for the Know-Nothings, the Indians were all in the Oklahoma Territory by this time, and couldn’t vote anyway. In any case, the Know-Nothings became so popular that soon you could buy Know-Nothing candy, Know-Nothing tea, and Know-Nothing toothpicks, which serious Know-Nothings deplored. “The party used to mean something, man! It wasn't always about making money, it used to be about the bigotry!” The Know-Nothings didn’t change the outcome of the election, though, and the Democrats handily took the White House.