Missouri Compromise line (36°30′ parallel) in dark blue, 1820. Territory above this line would be reserved for free states, and below, slave states
Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States (1861–1865) and the first Republican to hold the office
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States (1829–1837) and the first Democratic president.
The United States after the Compromise of 1850 and the Gadsden Purchase. Douglas sought to organize parts of the area labeled as "Unorganized territory."
Charles R. Jennison, an anti-slavery militia leader associated with the Jayhawkers from Kansas and an early Republican politician in the region
Martin Van Buren was the eighth president of the United States (1837–1841) and the second Democratic president.
Stephen A. Douglas – "The great principle of self-government is at stake, and surely the people of this country are never going to decide that the principle upon which our whole republican system rests is vicious and wrong."
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president of the United States (1869–1877)
Senator Stephen A. Douglas
Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler. An 1854 cartoon depicts a giant free soiler being held down by James Buchanan and Lewis Cass, standing on the Democratic platform of making slave states out of "Kansas," "Cuba," and "Central America". Franklin Pierce also holds down the giant's beard, as Stephen A. Douglas shoves a black man down his throat.
James G. Blaine, 28th & 31st Secretary of State (1881; 1889–1892)
The 1885 inauguration of Grover Cleveland, the only president with non-consecutive terms
Sam Houston from Texas was one of the few southern opponents of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. In the debate, he urged, "Maintain the Missouri Compromise! Stir not up agitation! Give us peace!"
William McKinley, 25th president of the United States (1897–1901)
Leaders of the Democratic Party during the first half of the 20th century on 14 June 1913: Secretary of State William J. Bryan, Josephus Daniels, President Woodrow Wilson, Breckinridge Long, William Phillips, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Alexander Stephens from Georgia – "Nebraska is through the House. I took the reins in my hand, applied the whip and spur, and brought the 'wagon' out at eleven o'clock P.M. Glory enough for one day."
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States (1901–1909)
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, 32nd and 33rd presidents of the United States (1933–1945; 1945–1953), featured on a campaign poster for the 1944 presidential election
Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri – "What is the excuse for all this turmoil and mischief? We are told it is to keep the question of slavery out of Congress! Great God! It was out of Congress, completely, entirely, and forever out of Congress, unless Congress dragged it in by breaking down the sacred laws which settled it!"
Herbert Hoover, 31st president of the United States (1929–1933)
John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, 35th and 36th presidents of the United States (1961–1963, 1963–1969)
Charles Sumner on Douglas – "Alas! too often those principles which give consistency, individuality, and form to the Northern character, which renders it staunch, strong, and seaworthy, which bind it together as with iron, are drawn out, one by one, like the bolts of the ill-fitted vessel, and from the miserable, loosened fragments is formed that human anomaly—a Northern man with Southern principles. Sir, no such man can speak for the North."
Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States (1981–1989)
Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States (1977–1981), delivering the State of the Union Address in 1979
This 1856 map shows slave states (gray), free states (pink), U.S. territories (green), and Kansas (white)
Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States (2017–2021)
Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States (1993–2001), at The Pentagon in 1998
Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States (1923–1929)
Barack Obama speaking to College Democrats of America in 2007
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38th governor of California (2003–2011)
President Barack Obama meeting with the Blue Dog Coalition in the State Dining Room of the White House in 2009
John McCain, United States senator from Arizona (1987–2018)
Eleanor Roosevelt at the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago
Donald Rumsfeld, 21st United States Secretary of Defense (2001–2006)
President Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law at the White House on March 23, 2010
Colin Powell, 65th United States Secretary of State (2001–2005)
Secretary of State John Kerry addressing delegates at the United Nations before signing the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016
Newt Gingrich, 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995–1999)
Shirley Chisholm was the first major-party African American candidate to run nationwide primary campaigns.
Annual population growth in the U.S. by county - 2010s
President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act of 1965 as Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and others look on
This map shows the vote in the 2020 presidential election by county.
Then-Senator Barack Obama shaking hands with an American soldier in Basra, Iraq in 2008
Political Spectrum Libertarian Left    Centrist   Right  Authoritarian
President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978
U.S. opinion on gun control issues is deeply divided along political lines, as shown in this 2021 survey.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with President Barack Obama at Ben Gurion Airport in 2013
Self-identified Democrats (blue) versus self-identified Republicans (red) (January–June 2010 data)
Higher percentages of Democrats than Republicans are members of union households.
Elected at age 33, Jon Ossoff is currently the youngest member of the U.S. Senate.
Hillary Clinton was the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
Vice President Kamala Harris
Julián Castro served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
U.S. opinion on gun control issues is deeply divided along political lines, as shown in this 2021 survey.

Since the mid-1850s, it has been the main political rival of the Democratic Party.

- Republican Party (United States)

Its main political rival has been the Republican Party since the 1850s.

- Democratic Party (United States)

It was drafted by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas, passed by the 33rd United States Congress, and signed into law by President Franklin Pierce.

- Kansas–Nebraska Act

The GOP was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists who opposed the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which allowed for the potential expansion of chattel slavery into the western territories.

- Republican Party (United States)

Its Northern remnants would give rise to the anti-slavery Republican Party.

- Kansas–Nebraska Act

In 1854, angry with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, anti-slavery Democrats left the party and joined Northern Whigs to form the Republican Party.

- Democratic Party (United States)

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Photo by Mathew Brady

Stephen A. Douglas

3 links

American politician and lawyer from Illinois.

American politician and lawyer from Illinois.

Photo by Mathew Brady
Stephen A. Douglas
Adele Cutts, c. 1860
The United States in 1849, with Texas's land claims on New Mexico shown
The United States after the Compromise of 1850
Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler – An 1856 cartoon depicts a giant "Free Soiler" being held down by James Buchanan and Lewis Cass standing on the Democratic platform marked "Kansas", "Cuba" and "Central America". Franklin Pierce also holds down the giant's beard as Douglas shoves a black man down his throat. A victim of lynching can also be seen in the background.
Stephen A. Douglas, photograph by Mathew Brady
Abraham Lincoln was Douglas's opponent in both the 1858 Senate election in Illinois and the 1860 presidential election.
Statue of Douglas at the site of the 1858 debate in Freeport, Illinois
Douglas (dark blue) had the support of most Northern delegates on the presidential ballot of the 1860 Democratic National Convention.
Douglas was defeated by Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election, as he won electoral votes from just two states.
Plaque at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, commemorating Douglas's "Protect The Flag" speech of April 25, 1861
Douglas's tomb
Douglas's widow, Adele, in mourning dress. From the Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Douglas depicted on the Series 1875 $10,000 Certificate of Deposit

A senator, he was one of two nominees of the badly split Democratic Party for president in the 1860 presidential election, which was won by Republican Abraham Lincoln.

Seeking to open the west for expansion, Douglas introduced the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854.

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president, became a Whig congressman later in his career.

Whig Party (United States)

3 links

Political party that espoused traditionalist conservatism in the United States during the middle of the 19th century.

Political party that espoused traditionalist conservatism in the United States during the middle of the 19th century.

John Quincy Adams, the 6th president, became a Whig congressman later in his career.
Henry Clay, a founder of the Whig Party in the 1830s and its 1844 presidential nominee
Daniel Webster, a leading Whig from New England
William Henry Harrison, a two-time presidential candidate who became the first Whig president in 1841 but died just one month into office
William Henry Harrison defeated Martin Van Buren in the 1840 presidential election, thereby becoming the first Whig president
President John Tyler clashed with congressional Whigs and was expelled from the party.
Zachary Taylor served in the Mexican-American War and later won the 1848 presidential election as the Whig nominee.
The United States settled the Texas-Mexico border and acquired portions of seven current states in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Portions of present-day Arizona and New Mexico were later acquired in the 1853 Gadsden Purchase.
A political cartoon satirizing the candidacy of either Zachary Taylor or Winfield Scott in the 1848 presidential election
Millard Fillmore, the last Whig president
Gen. Winfield Scott, the unsuccessful Whig candidate in the 1852 presidential election
Whig journalist Horace Greeley
John J. Crittenden, an influential Whig leader who later established the short-lived Constitutional Union Party to contest the election of 1860
U.S. presidential election results from 1828 to 1852. Darker shades of blue indicate states that generally voted for the Democratic Party, while darker shades of yellow/brown indicate states that generally voted for the Whig or National Republican Party.
Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery "Conscience Whig" who later joined the Republican Party
Edward Everett, a pro-South "Cotton Whig"
Abraham Lincoln, a former Whig congressman, won the 1860 presidential election on the Republican ticket.
John Marshall Harlan, who began his career as a Whig officeholder, served on the Supreme Court from 1877 to 1911.

Alongside the slightly larger Democratic Party, it was one of the two major parties in the United States between the late 1830s and the early 1850s as part of the Second Party System.

The Whigs collapsed following the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854, with most Northern Whigs eventually joining the anti-slavery Republican Party and most Southern Whigs joining the nativist American Party and later the Constitutional Union Party.

John C. Breckinridge

3 links

American lawyer, politician, and soldier.

American lawyer, politician, and soldier.

Breckinridge in an undated photo
Breckinridge, circa 1850
Former Governor Robert P. Letcher was unable to unseat Breckinridge in 1853.
A campaign poster for Buchanan and Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge, photograph by Mathew Brady
A marble bust of Breckinridge from the Senate's vice-presidential bust collection
Breckinridge in 1860 by Jules-Émile Saintin
States' electoral votes by candidate; Lincoln states are red, Breckinridge states are green, Bell states are orange, and Douglas states are blue
John C. Breckinridge by Eliphalet Frazer Andrews
Bust of Breckinridge by T.A.R. Kitson, Vicksburg National Military Park
Breckinridge as a Confederate general
Breckinridge's statue formerly located at Cheapside Park in downtown Lexington
Breckinridge's party hijacking a larger boat
Breckinridge in exile in Paris
Breckinridge after the war
Breckinridge's gravestone

He was a member of the Democratic Party, and served in the U.S. Senate during the outbreak of the American Civil War, but was expelled after joining the Confederate Army.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1851, he allied with Stephen A. Douglas in support of the Kansas–Nebraska Act.

These three men split the Southern vote, while antislavery Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won all but three electoral votes in the North, allowing him to win the election.

Portrait by Alexander Gardner, November 1863

Abraham Lincoln

3 links

American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.

American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865.

Portrait by Alexander Gardner, November 1863
The farm site where Lincoln grew up in Spencer County, Indiana
Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois
Lincoln in his late 30s as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo taken by one of Lincoln's law students around 1846.
Lincoln in 1857
Lincoln in 1858, the year of his debates with Stephen Douglas over slavery
A portrait of Dred Scott, petitioner in Dred Scott v. Sandford
Abraham Lincoln (1860) by Mathew Brady, taken the day of the Cooper Union speech
A Timothy Cole wood engraving taken from a May 20, 1860, ambrotype of Lincoln, two days following his nomination for president
Headlines on the day of Lincoln's inauguration portended hostilities with the Confederacy, Fort Sumter being attacked less than six weeks later.
March 1861 inaugural at the Capitol building. The dome above the rotunda was still under construction.
Lincoln with officers after the Battle of Antietam. Notable figures (from left) are 1. Col. Delos Sackett; 4. Gen. George W. Morell; 5. Alexander S. Webb, Chief of Staff, V Corps; 6. McClellan;. 8. Dr. Jonathan Letterman; 10. Lincoln; 11. Henry J. Hunt; 12. Fitz John Porter; 15. Andrew A. Humphreys; 16. Capt. George Armstrong Custer.
Running the Machine: An 1864 political cartoon satirizing Lincoln's administration – featuring William Fessenden, Edwin Stanton, William Seward, Gideon Welles, Lincoln, and others
Lincoln and McClellan
Lincoln, absent his usual top hat, is highlighted at Gettysburg.
An electoral landslide for Lincoln (in red) in the 1864 election; southern states (brown) and territories (gray) not in play
A poster of the 1864 election campaign with Lincoln as the candidate for president and Andrew Johnson as the candidate for vice president
Lincoln's second inaugural address in 1865 at the almost completed Capitol building
A political cartoon of Vice President Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) and Lincoln, 1865, entitled The 'Rail Splitter' At Work Repairing the Union. The caption reads (Johnson): "Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever." (Lincoln): "A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended."
Shown in the presidential booth of Ford's Theatre, from left to right, are assassin John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, Clara Harris, and Henry Rathbone.
Funeral of Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln, painting by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1869
Lincoln in February 1865, two months before his death
Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln cent, an American coin portraying Lincoln
Lincoln's image carved into the stone of Mount Rushmore|alt=See caption
Abraham Lincoln, a 1909 bronze statue by Adolph Weinman, sits before a historic church in Hodgenville, Kentucky.|alt=See caption
The Lincoln memorial postage stamp of 1866 was issued by the U.S. Post Office exactly one year after Lincoln's death.
Painting of Abraham Lincoln for the U.S. Capitol, by Ned Bittinger

In 1849, he returned to his law practice but became vexed by the opening of additional lands to slavery as a result of the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854.

He reentered politics in 1854, becoming a leader in the new Republican Party, and he reached a national audience in the 1858 Senate campaign debates against Stephen Douglas.

Lincoln, a moderate Republican, had to navigate a contentious array of factions with friends and opponents from both the Democratic and Republican parties.