"Political Chart of the United States," Rocky Mountain Club, 1856

A Growing Divide

America’s growing divide over slavery is clearly evident in an 1856 campaign broadside for John C. Fremont, the Republican Party’s first presidential candidate.  Note the vast western territory opened to slavery by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 — Congressional legislation that prompted the formation of the Republican Party and Lincoln’s re-entry into politics. Although Fremont lost the election, he carried eleven of sixteen free states and 45 percent of the North’s total vote.