1860 Constitutional Union National Convention
1860 presidential election
JBell.jpg
Edward Everett.jpg
Nominees
Bell and Everett
Convention
Date(s)May 9–10, 1860
CityBaltimore, Maryland
Candidates
Presidential nomineeJohn Bell of Tennessee
Vice presidential nomineeEdward Everett of
Massachusetts

The 1860 Constitutional Union National Convention met on May 9, 1860 in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the only national convention ever held by the Constitutional Union Party, which was organized largely by former Whig Party members from the Southern United States who opposed secession. The convention nominated former Senator John Bell of Tennessee for president and former Secretary of State Edward Everett of Massachusetts for vice president.

Bell won the presidential nomination on the second ballot of the convention, defeating Everett, Governor Sam Houston of Texas, Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, former Governor William Alexander Graham of North Carolina, Associate Justice John McLean of Ohio, and several other candidates. In the 1860 presidential election, Bell and Everett finished third in the electoral vote and fourth in the popular vote.

Background

After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, the Whigs collapsed due to divisions over slavery. Many Northern Whigs shifted to the new Republican Party, while many Southern Whigs joined the American Party, or "Know Nothings."[1]: 304  By 1859, the Know Nothing movement had collapsed, but some former Southern Whigs who refused to join their long-time rivals in the Democratic Party had organized themselves into the "Opposition Party." Several of this party's supporters, among them Knoxville Whig editor William Brownlow, former vice presidential candidate Andrew Jackson Donelson, and California attorney Balie Peyton sought to launch a third-party presidential ticket.[1]: 346 

In May 1860, disgruntled ex-Whigs and disenchanted moderates from across the country convened in Baltimore, where they formed the Constitutional Union Party. The party's platform was very broad and made no mention of slavery. While there were several candidates for the party's presidential nomination, the two frontrunners were Bell and Sam Houston.[1]: 354 

Candidates

A Constitutional Union campaign poster, 1860, portraying John Bell and Edward Everett, respectively the candidates for president and bice president. Once Lincoln was inaugurated, and called up the militia, Bell supported the secession of Tennessee. In 1863, Everett dedicated the new cemetery at Gettysburg.
A Constitutional Union campaign poster, 1860, portraying John Bell and Edward Everett, respectively the candidates for president and bice president. Once Lincoln was inaugurated, and called up the militia, Bell supported the secession of Tennessee. In 1863, Everett dedicated the new cemetery at Gettysburg.

Constitutional Union candidates:

Bell led the initial round of balloting with 68 votes to Houston's 59, with more than a dozen other candidates splitting the remainder. Houston's military endeavors had brought him national renown, but he reminded the convention's Clay Whigs of their old foe Andrew Jackson. On May 10, Bell received 138 votes to Houston's 69, and was declared the candidate.[1]: 354  The vice presidential nomination went to Edward Everett of Massachusetts, who had served as president of Harvard University and as Secretary of State in the Fillmore administration.

Balloting

Presidential

Baltimore Constitutional Union Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd
John Bell 68.5 138
Sam Houston 57 69
John J. Crittenden 28 1
Edward Everett 25 9.5
William A. Graham 22 18
John McLean 21 1
William C. Rives 13 0
John M. Botts 9.5 7
William L. Sharkey 7 8.5
William L. Goggin 3 0

Vice Presidential

Everett was nominated by acclaimation.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Joseph Parks, John Bell of Tennessee (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1950).
  2. ^ John Bell was a former U.S. Senator, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Secretary of War
  3. ^ Sam Houston was a sitting Governor of Texas, former U.S. Senator, President of the Republic of Texas, Governor of Tennessee, and U.S. Representative (Tennessee-7)
  4. ^ John Crittenden was a sitting U.S. Senator, former U.S. Attorney General, Governor of Kentucky, U.S. Representative (Kentucky-8)
  5. ^ Edward Everett was a former U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom, Governor of Massachusetts, U.S. Representative (Massachusetts-4)
  6. ^ William A. Graham was a former U.S. Senator, Governor of North Carolina, U.S. Secretary of the Navy
  7. ^ William C. Rives was a former U.S. Senator 1832–1834, and again 1836-1845