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date: 04 April 2020

Election of 1860locked

  • Paul Finkelman

Extract

The election of 1860 was the most important in American history. It was perhaps even more important for blacks than for whites. The central issue of the campaign was the future of slavery in the federal territories and the nature of the Union itself. The outcome set the stage for secession, civil war, and, most important, an end to slavery. Four parties competed for the presidency. Frederick Douglass clearly understood that the fate of the nation was at stake. During a speech delivered in Geneva, New York, on 1 August 1860 he told the crowd:

Slavery is the real issue the single bone of contention between all parties and sections It is the one disturbing force and explains the confused and irregular motion of our political machine Every thoughtful man who goes to the ballot box this fall will go there either to help or hinder slavery or with the ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.

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