A NATION DIVIDED
Disputes over the extension of slavery
bitterly divided the states in the 1850s. A grass-roots
anti-slavery movement in the North turned into the
Republican Party, which was founded in 1854 and rapidly
became a national force. In 1856, the Republicans
nominated for president John Charles Fremont, the
soldier who explored and mapped much of the West, but he
lost to Democrat James Buchanan.In 1860, the Republicans
turned to Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, who won
thanks to a split in the Democratic Party over slavery.
The Civil War broke out in April 1861, and many
Democrats (known as "War Democrats") supported
Lincoln's efforts to save the Union. In 1864, the
Republicans called themselves the Union Party and chose
a War Democrat, Andrew Johnson, as Lincoln's running
mate. Lincoln was re-elected but assassinated April 14,
1865, five days after the war ended.
Abraham Lincoln, left, gained national attention through his
debates with the better-known Sen. Stephen Douglas, whom
he then defeated for the presidency.
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