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New York state election, 1856

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The 1856 New York state election was held on November 4, 1856, to elect the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, a Canal Commissioner, an Inspector of State Prisons and the Clerk of the Court of Appeals, as well as all members of the New York State Assembly.

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>> Now, Radicals are the ones who create the Republican Party in its initial phase in 1854, '55. And in 1856 the Republican Party holds its national convention. They nominate John C. Fremont, a well-known -- a guy named "The Pathfinder" who was a Western explorer and had been fighting -- helped to conquer California for the United States in the Mexican War. They nominate Fremont for president. The platform of the Republican Party in 1856 is all about slavery. It has almost nothing. There's no economic policy in it, except for a mention that we ought to build more railroads. Nothing about tariffs. Nothing about homesteads. It's slavery. They condemn it in a famous, or infamous, phrase talking about the Mormons in Utah: they condemn slavery and polygamy as the "twin relics of barbarism." Twin relics of barbarism. See, that's the Radical language, "barbarism" is what slavery is. Why they went after the Mormons, I don't know. But anyway, they attack the Ostend Manifesto, which was a manifesto issued by a few Southern American diplomats, claiming that the United States ought to basically just invade and take over Cuba as a slave state; they denounced that notion. And they talk a lot about the civil war in Kansas, which I'll talk about next time. So it's a pretty radical platform. Now, the Republican Party is new, it's not tremendously organized. It does -- one of the things that happens in 1856 that boosts Republican support is -- let's see if we can find this image. Yes, here we go. The assault in the Senate on Charles Sumner. This is Sumner being beaten on the floor of the Senate by Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina. Brooks had given a speech called -- sorry, Sumner had given a speech called "The Crime Against Kansas" in which he made many negative comments about Senator Butler of South Carolina. Brooks, who was a cousin or relative of Butler, came into the Senate floor the next day, after the session was over, in order to confront Sumner. He generously waited until the lobby had cleared of ladies, he later said. And then he went up behind Sumner, who was sitting at his desk and said, "I have read your speech over twice. It is a libel on South Carolina and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner tried to get up from his desk, Brooks started pounding him on the head with this cane, this walking cane of his, raining down blows. Brooks later said the cane broke under the impact, but he continued hitting him. He said, "It made a great deal more noise after the stick was broken. I wore out my cane completely, but saved the head, which is gold." Sumner -- eventually other members of the Senate rushed in and stopped this. Sumner became a hero in the North, or a martyr, a victim, and was reelected to the Senate by Massachusetts even though he was injured so severely that he could not take his seat again for three more years. Brooks became a hero in the South. The reaction to this assault is a good symbol of how the sections were dividing. There were many dinners given in Brooks' honor in South Carolina, and he was given gold canes to replace the one he had broken in this... And Brooks said, and there were books about it, that this was all a reflection of honor. The notion of family honor was a major, you know, feature of Southern culture. Defending the honor of your kinsman, your relative, the reputation of your state. And you were sort of allowed to do that in an aggressive manner. And it was sort of a form of manliness, you know, to go out there and defend your honor in this violent way. Now, of course, another way of looking at it is sneaking up behind someone and banging them over the head doesn't seem very honorable. He might have tried to do it from the front at least. But, you know, he was pretty clever. Anyway, but many -- this outraged quite a few people in the North who were not sympathizers of Sumner. But anyway, in the end, let's see if we can find our map of the election. Here we go. Fremont is the Republican candidate. James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, who we'll talk about next time, is the Democratic candidate. And the Know-Nothings ran ex-president Millard Fillmore. So there are three parties running. If you just look at this map, the first thing that you see is how sectional it is: the red or orange states are carried by Fremont. All the other green states are carried by the Democrats, Buchanan, with the exception -- you can't really see it -- of Maryland, which is carried by Fillmore. But let's dig a little deeper into this. First of all, it's a remarkable accomplishment for a party which barely existed a year before. They get a third of the popular vote and about 40 percent of the electoral vote. But notice the Republicans have not swept the entire North. They have lost Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. That is what we call the Lower North, in contradistinction to the Upper North -- more conservative, many southern-born people living in southern Indiana, southern Illinois. These are places on the border with slave states. They share some cultural elements in common with the slave states. Looking at this map, it's pretty clear that to win in 1860 the Republicans are going to have to carry the Lower North, right? If they can win those states they lost -- Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois -- they will win the next election. The balance of power in those states is the Fillmore voters. Buchanan did not get a majority there; he got a plurality. But there was a large vote of mostly of former Whigs, conservative Whigs, who would not go over to the Democrats but did not want to join the Republican Party, either, because they thought it was exacerbating sectional divisions. So they went with Fillmore less on the anti-immigrant sentiment than on a more unionist sentiment. Fillmore also did very well in the Upper South -- in Virginia, in Kentucky -- again, for the same reason. That border area of the Lower North and the Upper South is far more moderate, so to speak, on the slavery issue than the Upper North and the Deep South. So the election of 1856 continues Democratic control of the national administration. But the Republicans certainly have great grounds for optimism after doing so well, after only existing for a year or so.



After losing the elections of 1853, 1854 and 1855 due to the split of the Party and running separate tickets, the national organization of the Democratic Party urged the factions to re-unite. The Soft state convention met on July 30 at Market Hall in Syracuse, New York, Gouverneur Kemble was Temporary Chairman. The Hard state convention met at the same time at Corinthian Hall in the same city, Samuel Fowler was Temporary Chairman. The Soft delegates adopted a resolution to unite with the Hards and marched to Corinthian Hall where both factions assembled together. William C. Crain was chosen President, William M. Tweed was one of the secretaries. Judge Amasa J. Parker (a Soft) was nominated for Governor on the fourth ballot (first ballot:Addison Gardiner 69, David L. Seymour 46, Parker 33, Fernando Wood 25, John Vanderbilt 21, Horatio Seymour 21, Augustus Schell 11, E. Corning 9, Judge Brown 8, Henry W. Rogers 7, Daniel S. Dickinson 1, Samuel Fowler 1, Brownson 1, Porter 1; second ballot: Gardiner 78, D. L. Seymour 67, Parker 39, Wood 26, Schell 22, Vanderbilt 18, Corning 3, Fowler 1; third ballot: Gardiner 80, D. L. Seymour 60, Parker 39, Schell 30, Wood 22, Vanderbilt, 15; then the names of Schell, Gardiner and Wood were withdrawn). The convention then adjourned and re-assembled the next day to complete the ticket with John Vanderbilt (a Hard) for Lieutenant Governor, and John Leslie Russell (the father of later Attorney General Leslie W. Russell) for Canal Commissioner. [1]

The American state convention met on September 23 and 24 at Rochester, New York, J. W. Barker presided. Erastus Brooks, the editor of the New York Express, was nominated for Governor by acclamation. Lyman Odell was nominated for Lieutenant Governor on the first ballot (the other candidates were Jesse C. Dann and Goodwin Denniston). Amos H. Prescott was nominated for Canal Commissioner. Alexander Mann, of Monroe County, was nominated for Clerk of the Court of Appeals.[2]

The North American state convention, a secession from the American Party which had considered joining the Republicans, met on the same day at the Court House in the same city, F. W. Walker presided. In the afternoon, after some debate, they marched into the American convention and re-united, endorsing their ticket, and declaring support of the American presidential candidates Millard Fillmore and Andrew Jackson Donelson.[3]


The whole Republican ticket was elected. None of the incumbents ran for re-election.

81 Republicans, 31 Democrats and 8 Americans were elected for the session of 1857 to the New York State Assembly.

1856 state election results
Office Republican ticket Democratic ticket American ticket Liberty ticket
Governor John Alsop King 264,400 Amasa J. Parker 198,616 Erastus Brooks 130,870 Gerrit Smith 165
Lieutenant Governor Henry R. Selden 266,991 John Vanderbilt 197,811 Lyman Odell 128,913
Canal Commissioner Charles H. Sherrill 267,220 John Leslie Russell 196,471 Amos H. Prescott 129,642
Inspector of State Prisons Wesley Bailey 265,969 Matthew T. Brennan 196,848 James P. Sanders[4] 129,881
Clerk of the Court of Appeals Russell F. Hicks 267,061 Horatio G. Warner 197,116 Alexander Mann 129,438



See also

New York gubernatorial elections

This page was last edited on 30 July 2017, at 07:11.
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