The Most Consequential Elections in History: Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1860

Abraham Lincoln's victory in 1860 was probably the most consequential election in American history.

19th November 1863: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, making his famous 'Gettysburg Address' speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery during the American Civil War. Original Artwork: Painting by Fletcher C Ransom

Abraham Lincoln making his famous 'Gettysburg Address' speech.

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But hope for conciliation was a futile one. With the national government finally in antislavery hands, the South proceeded to secede. By the time Lincoln took the oath of office, in fact, a Confederate government under Jefferson Davis was already in place. It represented the breakaway states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. The Confederacy was joined later by Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

In the wake of that crucial election of 1860, America's worst crisis had begun.

More from our Most Consequential Elections series:
George Washington and the Election of 1788
Thomas Jefferson and the Election of 1800
Andrew Jackson and the Election of 1828
Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864
Theodore Roosevelt and the Election of 1904
Woodrow Wilson and the Election of 1912
Franklin Roosevelt and the Election of 1932
Lyndon Johnson and the Election of 1964
Ronald Reagan and the Election of 1980