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In 1816, James Monroe was elected as a Republican. He succeeded himself in 1820 as a Republican. In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected as a Coalitionist. There were four candidates, Andrew Jackson, Wm. H. Crawford, Henry Clay, and Adams. Jackson received a plurality of the popular vote, but there was no election by the Electoral College, and the issue was carried to the House of Representatives, where Adams was elected by a coalition. In 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected as a Democrat, and succeeded himself as such in 1832. In 1836, Martin Van Buren was elected as a Democrat; and as there was no choice in the Electoral College for Vice-President, the Senate of the United States elected R. M. Johnson to that office. In 1840 William Henry Harrison was elected as a Whig. In 1844, James K. Polk was elected as a Democrat. In 1848, Zachary Taylor was elected as a Whig. In 1852, Franklin Pierce was elected as a Democrat, and in 1856, James Buchanan was elected as a Democrat. We have thus traced the Presidential elections to 1856. Jefferson and Adams were the only Presidents ever elected by the House of Representatives.
The National convention system was not introduced until as late as 1831. Prior to that time candidates for President and Vice-President were nominated by congressional and legislative caucuses. Jackson and Calhoun were nominated in that manner in 1832 for President and Vice-President, but there was much opposition to the nomination of Calhoun, and a National convention was held at Baltimore, in May, to nominate a candidate for that office. Martin Van Buren was nominated, and elected with Jackson. In May, 1835, the Democrats assembled in National convention at Baltimore, and nominated Martin Van Buren for President. In the same year, December 4, the Whigs held their first National convention, at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, nominating William Henry Harrison for President, and Francis
Granger for Vice-President. From this time the respective parties have selected their candidates for President and Vice-President through National conventions.
From the time the Government was formed there had been, to 1856, inclusive, nine distinct political parties, which were National in character, and appeared in the order in which we give them here. In 1789, the Federal party was organized. It favored the Federal Alliance or confederation, and claimed to be the preserver of the Union. Those who opposed that party in the time of Washington were known as Anti-Federalists, but afterward took the name of Republicans. In 1807, the Democratic party was organized, and although the principles advocated by this party changed from time to time, they have studiously held on to the original name. In 1831, the National Republican party was organized, to oppose the Democratic party; and in 1834, the Whig party was organized in New York, as the continuation of the National Republican party. In 1840, the Abolition party appeared. Its distinctive feature was the advocacy of the abolition of slavery in the States which then held to that institution. In 1848, the Free Soil party was organized. It opposed the introduction of slavery into the Territories. The Know-Nothing party was formed in 1852 as a secret organization. It announced the doctrine that "Americans should rule America," and for a time was successful in some of the States. In 1856, it was known as the Native American party. In that year the present Republican party was organized, with the avowed purpose of putting an end to the further extension of slavery.
The Abolition party made an incipient effort, in 1840, to run a candidate for President in the person of James G. Birney, of Michigan, nominating him at a convention held at Warsaw, New York, as early as November 13, 1839. He received but 7,059 votes in all the States, and 149 of
these were cast in Illinois. In 1814, the Abolitionists again presented Birney, nominating him at Buffalo, New York, August 30, 1843. This time he received 62,300 votes. Of these Illinois cast 3,570.
The next anti-slavery candidate was Martin Van Buren, who was nominated by a Free Soil convention held at Buffalo, on the 9th of August, 1848. It was composed chiefly of Free Soil Democrats. His aggregate vote was 291,263, and 15,774 of this number were cast in Illinois. In August, 1852, the Free Soil Democrats assembled at Pittsburgh, and nominated John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, as their candidate for President. His vote was not so large as Van Buren's, it being only 156,149. Illinois gave him 9,966. But notwithstanding his vote was much. less than Van Buren's, it furnished conclusive evidence that the anti-slavery sentiment had taken a strong hold upon the minds of the people South as well as North, for Free Soil electoral tickets were formed in the slave States of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and North Carolina.
(See Greeley & Cleveland's Political Text Book, 1860, and Lanman's Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States, 1876.)
In the midst of these fruitless attempts to elect an antislavery man to the Presidency, there was a constant augmentation of the anti-slavery sentiment in all the free States and Territories; and the nomination of Martin Van Buren was the first outward evidence that the thoughtful, practical men of the country were taking hold of the question. It had evidently become apparent to the minds of the anti-slavery factions of the Democratic and Whig parties North and South-the men who were not willing to follow their party leaders blindly into error-that the Whig party would ultimately be swallowed up by the Democratic party, which would, in their judgment, result disastrously to the country. But the question was, how
should they arrest the great storm so visible to them in the political sky. Their numbers were comparatively few. They were fearless of all consequences. To their minds a new party seemed necessary to save the country from an intestine conflict. Martin Van Buren, of whom we have spoken, who had succeeded Andrew Jackson as President of the United States in 1836, and had been the Democratic candidate for President in 1840, against William Henry Harrison, was nominated by them for President as the candidate of the Free Soil party. The result of his nomination was the defeat of Louis Cass, the regular Democratic candidate, and the election of Zachary Taylor. This election seemed only to put off the evil day, for the Democratic party succeeded four years after in electing Franklin Pierce over Winfield Scott, the candidate of the Whig party.
The Free Soil party having announced no principle except that of hostility to the further spread of slavery, did not commend itself to the favor of the people North, South, East and West who did not desire to enlist under the Democratic banner, and many of them united with the Native American party, which came forward in 1856, as the successor of the Whig and Know-Nothing parties, with Millard Fillmore, the Vice-President under Taylor and President after his death, as its candidate for President. In the meantime the Free Soil party had abandoned its original name and came forward with a new namethe Republican party-a new platform of principles and new accessions, chiefly from the Democratic party, in all the Eastern and Northwestern States, and John C. Fremont was chosen as its candidate for President, under the bold and broad declaration that there should be no further extension of slavery. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan. The triangular race resulted in the election of Mr. Buchanan, whose aggregate vote was
1,838,169; Fremont, 1,841,264; Fillmore, 874,534. Mr. Buchanan's plurality in Illinois was 9,159; Fremont's vote in Illinois was 96,189, and Fillmore's 87,444. But although Illinois cast her electoral vote for Buchanan, Wm. A. Richardson, the Democratic candidate for Governor, was beaten by Wm. H. Bissell, the Republican candidate, by a majority of 4,697. Mr. Bissell was an able and accomplished gentleman, who had won popular fame as a soldier in the war with Mexico, and had represented the Belleville district in the Thirty-first, Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses.
With Mr. Bissell, there were elected John Wood, Lieutenant Governor; O. M. Hatch, Secretary of State; Jesse K. Dubois, Auditor of Public Accounts; James Miller, Treasurer, and Wm. H. Powell, Superintendent of Public Instruction. This was the first time in the history of Illinois that any person other than a Democrat had been chosen to fill a State office. Several times prior to this the Clay men or Whigs had taken up a Jackson man or Democrat and voted for him for Governor, against the person thought to be the favorite candidate of the leading men of the dominant party, notably among whom was John Reynolds, in 1830, who was elected over Wm. Kinney, then Lieutenant Governor. The election of Joseph Duncan in 1834 was another instance-Kinney being again a candidate. (See Ford's History.) Party lines between the Democrats and Whigs were not radically drawn in this State until about 1836, but the Whig party was always in a hopeless minority. The nearest the Whig party ever came to carrying the State was in the campaign between Harrison and Van Buren. Harrison received 45,537 votes and Van Buren 47,476. Of the formation of the Republican party we shall speak more at length in the succeeding chapter.