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Monday, June 1, 2015

Presidential Losers #18: John Breckenridge, John Bell, Stephen Douglas

John Bell
In the election of 1860 tensions were high.  It was pretty evident the southern states were ready to split from the Union, and whoever was elected president would have a bloody, protracted Civil War on his hands.  

Naturally, everyone wanted a piece of that.  
John Breckinridge

There were not two, but four, major presidential candidates, if we count Abraham Lincoln.  You might say Abe was not a nationally recognized candidate because his name didn’t even appear on the southern ballots1  Nevertheless, it was evident that he was the man to beat, and a lively good-natured smear campaign was directed against him, particularly for his folksy ways and “slang-whanging stump speaker style.” 2 

Political cartoonists with rapier-like wit made the cognoscenti ponder deeply the consequences of a Republican White House with pictures of thick-licked black men kissing white women while Abe looked on unconcerned. 3

Stephen Douglas
The most memorable of the also-rans was fourth-place finisher, Stephen Douglas – also known as “The Little Giant” 4 – who introduced a new wrinkle into presidential campaigns by actually campaigning. While Abe and the others stayed put, Steve set off to “visit his mother;” the trip from New York City where Douglas lived to upstate New York where Mamma lived, somehow took him through New England, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.  Then he had to go see his lawyer, which took him through lengthy detours in the south.  

In spite of all his efforts, the electoral votes in the populous free states gave Lincoln a comfortable majority.

The Result

Abraham Lincoln: 180
John Breckenridge: 72
John Bell: 39
Stephen Douglas: 12

1. He probably wouldn't have gotten many votes down there anyways.

2. For a sample of what his enemies were referring to, consider these lines from the Gettysburg Address: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." (Whang that slang, Abe!)

3. Actually the white girls in the pictures didn't seem too bothered by it either.

4. By this logic, Lincoln was a Very Tall Dwarf.

1 comment:

  1. We've never had a President named "Bell", but we've sure elected our share of Ding-A-Lings.