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Favorable or Unfavorable #82: John C. Breckinridge


Favorable or Unfavorable #82: John C. Breckinridge  

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  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #82: John C. Breckinridge

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JC Breckinridge is most famous as the Southern Dem nominee in 1860. His rise to power is kind of hard to explain. He was of a political dynasty. He was fundamental in the passage of the KS-NE Act, where he was the go-between for Douglas and Pierce. Buchanan needed a Southern ally of Pierce and Douglas, and so reluctantly made him VP, and instantly isolated him because of he wasn't a Buchananite (Buchanan saw any Democrat that wasn't 100% loyal to him as a threat worse than the GOP). Douglas alientates northerners, not just for the Lecompton support, but also for his vocal support of Dred Scott and anger at abolitionists following the John Brown Raid. These last two aren't actions because his stances were obvious and speeches weren't considered major. His support for Lecompton was seen as more influential. For 1860, it would seem a surprise that he wouldn't be all in for his former ally Douglas, but Douglas was ambiguous on a stance for a Slave Code, and was leaning against one. Breckinridge's support of a slave code, and the fact that he was the incumbent VP, made him a natural fit as an alternate against Douglas. It was also important that he wasn't from the Deep South as a candidate from there would likely only win Deep South states. While strongly pro-slavery, he didn't support secession until Lincoln invaded. Despite his pro-slavery stance, it is interesting that Breckinridge had sold the last of his slaves when he became VP (he didn't enslave as many as his grandfather). After the war, he seems to have evolved. I think this evolution took place during his exile, which was mostly in Europe. Europe tended to be critical of slavery. Along with his 1870 action, it is worth mentioning that by about that time he was happy to see attempts to allow blacks to testify in trial in KY. 

His actions:

Breckinridge, John C. 1851? Opposes Andrew Johnson's Homestead proposal as it would lead to more Free States
Breckinridge, John C. 1852 Gains attention for eulogizing Whig leader Henry Clay in Congress
Breckinridge, John C. 1853 Declines Pierce's offer to be Gov of Washington Terr.
Breckinridge, John C. 1854 in Congressional junto that hooked Pierce to KS-NB; plays a lead role in the act's passage
Breckinridge, John C. 1854 Forces Rep. Cutting of NY to accept a duel during KS-NB debate, but it is called off in last moment
Breckinridge, John C. 1855 Confirmed as Amb to Spain for Pierce, but he declines on learning of the confirmation
Breckinridge, John C. 1856 Supports Pierce at Dem Conv, and then Douglas when Pierce drops out.
Breckinridge, John C. 1856 VP on Buchanan ticket to appease Douglas and Pierce supporters; becomes youngest VP at age 36
Breckinridge, John C. 1857 Alienated by Buchanan early on, playing little role in the admin
Breckinridge, John C. 1858 Endorses the Pro-Slavery Lecompton Const in KS, alienating potential support in the North
Breckinridge, John C. 1860 Southern Dem nom for Pres because of his open support for Federal Slave Code
Breckinridge, John C. 1860 Supports Crittenden Compromise in attempt to avert CW
Breckinridge, John C. 1861 Urges Lincoln to remove federal troops from the South
Breckinridge, John C. 1861 is expelled for pro-Confederacy stand
Breckinridge, John C. 1861 Joins CSA becoming general and cabinet member
Breckinridge, John C. 1869 Returns to the US from exile, and declines pressure to return to politics, even from Pres. Grant
Breckinridge, John C. 1870 In rare public political statement, denounces the KKK
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2 hours ago, vcczar said:

I favor him after the CW, but he's a monster, like many Southern politicians at the time, before it because of the slavery stance.

I wonder if there had been a chance he had not joined the CSA if he weren't expelled for his pro-Confederacy stand. At least from the listing above it sounds like a direct consequence. I guess he had joined them anyway.

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17 minutes ago, ConservativeElector2 said:

I wonder if there had been a chance he had not joined the CSA if he weren't expelled for his pro-Confederacy stand. At least from the listing above it sounds like a direct consequence. I guess he had joined them anyway.

I think the only way he doesn’t join the Confederacy, expelled or not, is if Lincoln accepted the state’s neutrality (note: South didn’t abide by the neutrality either. Both sides broke it at the same time). I think he would still have been pulled into the South. You don’t have many pro-slave code border state politicians siding with the Union. I think his initial Unionist stance had more to do with the certainty that the South would lose. 

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