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Last Best Hope of Earth

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William Henry Harrison

The Election of 1860

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The United States Capitol in 1860. Courtesy: Library of Congress

Every presidential election is consequential, but the Election of 1860 would play a significant role in whether the United States would remain one nation. The division of the North and South on the issue of slavery threatened to cause a secession of the South. The result of the election would determine whether that threat would materialize and cause a Second American Revolution. Continue reading “The Election of 1860”

The Compromise of 1850

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“United States Senate, A.D. 1850.” By: Peter F. Rothermel.

Upon President Zachary Taylor taking office, he sent a message to Congress deploring the sectionalism that was pervading the country. See David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 91. He looked to George Washington’s warnings against “characterizing parties by geographical discriminations,” which appeared by 1849 to be a prescient warning. Id. citing James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (11 vols.; New York, 1907), V, 9-24. President Taylor offered hope for northerners and those Americans who wanted to preserve the Union with his vow: “Whatever dangers may threaten it [the Union] I shall stand by it and maintain it in its integrity.” David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 91 citing James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (11 vols.; New York, 1907), V, 9-24. Continue reading “The Compromise of 1850”

Election of 1848: The Candidates

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The Whig Ticket for President, Zachary Taylor, and Vice President, Millard Fillmore.

The Election of 1848 was bound to be unique, as President James Polk had made clear that he would serve only one term as president. With that, the Whigs and the Democrats had to put forth candidates that could meet the parties’ respective goals of reversing President Polk’s policies (the Whigs) and expanding on President Polk’s policies (the Democrats).

Continue reading “Election of 1848: The Candidates”

The Deadliest War in American History

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Winfield Scott. By: Robert Walter Weir.

President James Polk, at the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, was concerned about the ramifications of a significant, drawn-out conflict. He was aware that a Whig military hero could emerge, just as William Henry Harrison had. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 750.

Continue reading “The Deadliest War in American History”

The Legacy of the Whig Party

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The New York Tribune, a Whig Newspaper, Endorsing its Candidates.

Following the Election of 1840, members of the Whig Party must have been optimistic about their future. They likely imagined that the dominance of the Jacksonian Democrats could be replicated within the ranks of the Whigs and supplant the Democrats. It was not to be, however.

Continue reading “The Legacy of the Whig Party”

The First Presidential Succession

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Depiction of John Tyler.

Following William Henry Harrison’s death just a month into his presidency in 1841, John Tyler rose to the presidency, in the first instance of a president dying while holding the office. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 589.

Continue reading “The First Presidential Succession”

The Darkest Spot on the American Mantle

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Henry Clay. By: Henry F. Darby.

In 1832, Henry Clay addressed the Senate, expressing his hope that “some day,” America “would be rid of this, the darkest spot on its mantle,” speaking of slavery. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 586 quoting Life, Correspondence, and Speeches of Henry Clay, ed. Calvin Colton (New York, 1857), I, 189, 191.

Continue reading “The Darkest Spot on the American Mantle”

Election of 1840: Voter Turnout

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Frances Wright. By: John Chester Buttre.

The Election of 1840 is one that stands out in history. That is for principally one reason: voter turnout.

Continue reading “Election of 1840: Voter Turnout”

Election of 1840: The Campaign

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Depiction of William Henry Harrison with a Log Cabin and Hard Cider.

As was customary until 1904, an incumbent president did not campaign openly for his re-election. This was true for President Martin Van Buren as well. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 573.

Continue reading “Election of 1840: The Campaign”

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