The Full Wiki

United States presidential election, 1852: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1848 United States 1856
United States presidential election, 1852
November 2, 1852
FranklinPierce.png WinfieldScott.png
Nominee Franklin Pierce Winfield Scott
Party Democratic Whig
Home state New Hampshire New Jersey
Running mate William R. King William Alexander Graham
Electoral vote 254 42
States carried 27 4
Popular vote 1,607,510 1,386,942
Percentage 50.8% 43.9%
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Pierce/King, Orange denotes those won by Scott/Graham. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

The United States presidential election of 1852 was in many ways a replay of the election of 1844. Once again, the incumbent President was a Whig who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war hero predecessor; in this case, it was Millard Fillmore who followed General Zachary Taylor. The Whig party passed over the incumbent for nomination — casting aside Fillmore in favor of General Winfield Scott. The Democrats nominated a "dark horse" candidate, this time Franklin Pierce. The Whigs again campaigned on the obscurity of the Democratic candidate, and once again this strategy failed.

Pierce and running mate William King went on to win what was at the time one of the nation's largest electoral victories, trouncing Scott and his vice presidential nominee, William Graham of North Carolina, 254 electoral votes to 42. After the 1852 election the Whig Party quickly collapsed, and the members of the declining party failed to nominate a candidate for the next presidential race; it was soon replaced as the Democratic Party's primary opposition by the new Republican Party.



Whig Party nomination

Whig candidates

The 1852 Whig National Convention, held in Baltimore, was bitterly divided. Supporters of President Fillmore pointed to the successful Compromise of 1850 and the failure of a nascent secession movement in the Southern states in 1850–1851. The northern Whigs believed that the Compromise of 1850 favored the slaveholding South over the North. Northern Whigs favored heroic Mexican-American War General Winfield Scott of New Jersey. Scott had earned the nickname of "Old Fuss and Feathers" due to his insistence on military appearance and discipline, and while respected, was also seen by the people as somewhat foppish. A deadlock occurred because most New England delegates supported Daniel Webster. On the first ballot, Fillmore received all delegate votes from the South save four but only received 18 northern delegate votes. The first ballot was Fillmore - 133, Scott - 131, and Webster - 29. Scott was nominated on the 53rd ballot by a margin of 159-112 (with 21 for Webster), again with a highly sectional vote; Scott won the North by a 142-11 vote (with 21 for Webster) while Fillmore won the South by a margin of 101-17.

William Alexander Graham was chosen as the Vice Presidential nominee. 1852 would be the last time the Whig Party would nominate a candidate for President; after the election the party fell apart and ceased to exist.

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

Pierce/King campaign poster

As Democrats convened in Baltimore in June 1852, four major candidates vied for the nomination- Lewis Cass of Michigan, the nominee in 1848, who had the backing of northerners in support of the Compromise of 1850; James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, popular in the South as well as in his home state; Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, candidate of the expansionists and the railroad interests; and William L. Marcy of New York, whose strength was centered in his home state. Throughout the balloting, numerous favorite son candidates received a few votes.

Cass led on the first 19 ballots, with Buchanan second, and Douglas and Marcy exchanging third and fourth places. Buchanan took the lead on the 20th ballot and retained it on each of the next nine tallies. Douglas managed a narrow lead on the 30th and 31st ballots. Cass then recaptured first placed through the 44th ballot. Marcy carried the next four ballots. Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, a former Congressman and Senator, did not get on the board until the the 35th ballot, when the Virginia delegation brought him forward as a compromise choice. He consolidated his support in subsequent voting and was nominated nearly unanimously on the 49th ballot.[1]

In a peace gesture to the Buchanan wing of the party, Pierce's supporters allowed Buchanan's allies to fill the second position, knowing that they would select Alabama Senator William R. King. On the second ballot, with only minor opposition, King finally obtained the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination. During the ensuing campaign, King's tuberculosis, which he believed he had contracted while in Paris, denied him the active behind-the-scenes role that he might otherwise have played, although he worked hard to assure his region's voters that New Hampshire's Pierce was a "northern man with southern principles."

Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th 17th 18th 19th 20th 21st 22nd 23rd 24th 25th
Franklin Pierce 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lewis Cass 116 118 119 115 114 114 113 113 112 111 101 98 98 99 99 99 99 96 89 81 60 43 37 33 34
James Buchanan 93 95 94 89 88 88 88 88 87 86 87 88 88 87 87 87 87 85 85 92 102 104 104 103 101
William L. Marcy 27 27 26 25 26 26 26 26 27 27 27 27 26 26 26 26 26 25 26 26 26 26 27 26 26
Stephen A. Douglas 20 23 21 33 34 34 34 34 39 40 50 51 51 51 51 51 50 56 63 64 64 77 78 80 79
Others 40 33 36 34 34 34 35 35 31 32 31 32 33 33 33 33 34 34 33 33 44 46 50 54 56
Presidential Ballot
Ballot 26th 27th 28th 29th 30th 31st 32nd 33rd 34th 35th 36th 37th 38th 39th 40th 41st 42nd 43rd 44th 45th 46th 47th 48th 49th
Franklin Pierce 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 30 29 29 29 29 29 29 29 29 29 44 49 55 282
Lewis Cass 33 32 28 27 33 65 93 123 130 131 122 120 107 106 107 107 101 101 101 96 78 75 72 2
James Buchanan 101 98 96 98 91 83 74 72 49 39 28 28 28 28 27 27 27 27 27 27 28 28 28 0
William L. Marcy 26 26 26 26 26 26 26 25 33 34 58 70 84 85 85 85 91 91 91 97 98 95 89 0
Stephen A. Douglas 80 85 88 91 92 92 80 60 53 52 43 34 33 33 33 33 33 33 33 32 32 33 33 2
Others 56 55 58 54 54 30 23 16 31 25 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 16 16 19 10

Source: US President - D Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 24, 2009).

Vice Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd
William R. King 125 277
Solomon W. Downs 30 0
John B. Weller 28 0
David R. Atchison 25 0
Gideon J. Pillow 25 0
Robert Strange 23 0
William O. Butler 13 0
Thomas J. Rusk 13 0
Jefferson Davis 2 11
Howell Cobb 2 0
Abstaining 2 0

Source: US Vice President - D Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 25, 2009).

Free Soil Party nomination

The second Free Soil National Convention assemble in the Masonic Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. New Hampshire Senator John P. Hale was nominated for President with 192 delegate votes, with 16 votes scattering. George W. Julian of Indiana was nominated for Vice President over Samuel Lewis of Ohio and Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio.

Liberty Party nomination

The Liberty Party National Convention was held in Buffalo, New York. There were few delegates present, so a ticket was recommended and a later convention called. The Convention recommended Gerrit Smith of New York for President and Charles Durkee of Wisconsin for Vice President. A second convention was held in Syracuse, New York, in early September 1852, but it to failed to draw enough delegates to select a nominee. yet a third convention gathered in Syracuse later that month and nominated William Goodell of New York for President and Samuel M. Piper of Virginia for Vice President.

Union Party nomination

The Union party was formed in 1851, and was the successor to the Whig party in several Southern states including Georgia. As the 1852 presidential election approached, Union party leaders decided to wait and see who was nominated by the two major parties. The movement to nominate Daniel Webster as a third-party candidate began in earnest following the Whig Convention. The Union Party held its Georgia state convention on August 7, 1852, and nominated Webster for President and Charles J. Jenkins of Georgia for Vice President. The Webster/Jenkins ticket received nationwide support, particularly in the South but also in Massachusetts.

Southern Rights Party nomination

The Southern Rights Party was the successor to the Democratic party in several Southern states and held its National Convention in Montgomery, Alabama. There were 62 delegates present, and they voted unanimously to nominate Georgia Senator George M. Troup for president, and former Mississippi Governor John A. Quitman for vice president.

General election

Political cartoon favoring Winfield Scott

The Fall Campaign

The Whigs' platform was almost indistinguishable from that of the Democrats, reducing the campaign to a contest between the personalities of the two candidates. The lack of clear-cut issues between the two parties helped drive voter turnout down to its lowest level since 1836. The decline was further exacerbated by Scott's anti-slavery reputation, which decimated the Southern Whig vote at the same time as the pro-slavery Whig platform undermined the Northern Whig vote. After the Compromise of 1850 was passed, many of the southern Whig Party members broke with the party's key figure, Henry Clay.[2] Finally, Scott's status as a war hero was somewhat offset by the fact that Pierce was himself a Mexican-American War brigadier general.

Shortly before the election Union party candidate Daniel Webster died, causing many Union state parties to remove their slates of electors. The Union ticket did appear on the ballot in Georgia and Massachusetts however.

When America went to the polls Pierce won in a landslide, Scott won only the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Vermont. The fact that Daniel Webster received a nice piece of the vote in Georgia and Massachusetts, even though he was dead, shows how disenchanted voters were with the two main party candidates. As a result of this devastating defeat, and because of the growing tensions within the party between pro-slavery Southerners and anti-slavery Northerners, the Whig Party quickly fell apart after the 1852 election and ceased to exist. Some Southern Whigs would join the Democratic Party, and many Northern Whigs would help to form the new Republican Party in 1854. Some Whigs in both sections would support the so-called "Know-Nothing" party in the 1856 presidential election.


Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote(a) Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Franklin Pierce Democratic New Hampshire 1,607,510 50.8% 254 William Rufus DeVane King Alabama 254
Winfield Scott Whig New Jersey 1,386,942 43.9% 42 William Alexander Graham North Carolina 42
John Parker Hale Free Soil New Hampshire 155,210 4.9% 0 George Washington Julian Indiana 0
Daniel Webster(b) Union (c) Massachusetts 6,994 0.2% 0 Charles Jones Jenkins Georgia 0
George M. Troup Southern Rights Georgia 2,331 0.1% 0 John A. Quitman Mississippi 0
Other 2,843 0.1% Other
Total 3,161,830 100% 296 296
Needed to win 149 149

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1852 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).
Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).(a) The popular vote figures exclude South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.
(b) Daniel Webster died on October 25, 1852, one week before the election. However, his name remained on the ballot in Massachusetts and Georgia, and he still managed to poll nearly seven thousand votes.
(c)For a detailed discussion of the Union Party formed by Pro-Union Whigs, see Michael F. Holt, The Rise and Fall of the Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), Chapters 19 and 20.

  • The candidates for Vice President were both born in North Carolina and in fact both attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, albeit two decades apart. While there, they were members of opposing debate societies: the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. Both also served in North Carolina politics: King was a representative from North Carolina before he moved to Alabama, and Graham was a governor of North Carolina.

Electoral college selection

Method of choosing Electors State(s)
Each Elector appointed by state legislature South Carolina
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide (all other States)

See also


  1. ^ William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
  2. ^ Biography of Franklin Pierce
  • Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. Oxford University Press, New York, New York: 1999.
Web sites

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address