The United States presidential election of 1860 was the 19th quadrennial presidential election. The election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 1860 and served as the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The United States had been divided during the 1850s on questions surrounding the expansion of slavery and the rights of slave owners. In 1860, these issues broke the Democratic Party into Northern and Southern factions, and a new Constitutional Union Party appeared. In the face of a divided opposition, the Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured enough electoral votes to put Abraham Lincoln in the White House without support from the South.
Before Lincoln's inauguration, seven Southern states seceded and formed the Confederacy. Secessionists from four additional Border states joined them when Lincoln's call to restore federal property in the South forced them to take sides, and two states (Kentucky and Missouri) tried to remain neutral. Following South Carolina's secessionist movement, the Union admitted Kansas, West Virginia, and Nevada as free-soil states.
Six candidates were nominated: Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, James Guthrie of Kentucky, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter of Virginia, Joseph Lane of Oregon, Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, and Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. Three other candidates, Isaac Toucey of Connecticut, James Pearce of Maryland, and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi (the future president of the Confederate States) also received votes. Douglas, a moderate on the slavery issue who favored "popular sovereignty", was ahead on the first ballot, needing 56.5 more votes. On the 57th ballot, Douglas was still ahead, but still 51.5 votes short of nomination. In desperation, the delegates agreed on May 3 to stop voting and adjourn the convention.