The 1860 Election – Lincoln Was Also Left Off the Ballot


By Martin Armstrong

Lincoln Elected

Did you know Abraham Lincoln was also absent from the ballot in 1860? Ten Southern states failed to issue ballots on behalf of the Republican candidate because he was opposed to slavery. When that was not enough to prevent a Lincoln victory, his opponents had him assassinated.


Now back then political parties issued ballots across the states. The word “ballot” comes from the Italian word “ballotta” meaning “little ball.” Some member of Washington would cast votes by placing a clay marble in a wooden box corresponding with their candidate of choice.


During Lincoln’s time, voters would occur on physically printed paper. States would determine the parameters of the paper (size, thickness, etc.), but the political parties were left to determine the rest, which naturally led to voter manipulation. Voters would receive pre-printed ballots, often depicting various party symbols or portraits of candidates. Since the parties could select how to produce their ballot, some resorted to using different colored paper so that everyone could see exactly who you were supporting. For example, the Virginia Union issued their ballots on bright pink paper to clearly indicate if someone was in support of their party. This effectively kept many people from casting votes in fear of violence as the nation was on the cusp of the Civil War.

Lincoln was not exactly barred from the ballot, but his party did not issue ballots in 10 states: South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Virginia. In fact, he did not receive any votes from the states that would later form the Confederacy besides Virginia where Republicans secured 1% of the votes.

Women were not permitted to vote until 1920 – 60 years later. The husband would cast a vote on behalf of the household. Black men were not permitted to vote until 1870, as the future Confederacy wanted to maintain their free workforce.

History repeats time and time again. Tensions were rising to new heights in the nation during that time, with neighbors turning against neighbors. The US Civil War broke out one year later in 1861. The nation is once again moving to intimidate voters as your candidate selection could cause you trouble depending on where you live. No one accepted the results of the 1860 election. Lincoln won but he could not govern the Confederacy as they refused to accept him as their president.

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