|The Compromise of 1856|
Millard Fillmore, 13th and 15th President of
the United States (July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
and March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1865).
By 1856, the issue of slavery had begun to dominate national politics. The Whig party had shattered, failing to have chosen a side in the conflict. From the ashes, its Anti-Slavery members formed the Republican Party, which had already begun to dominate politics in the Northern states by 1855, at the expense of both the Democratic and American parties. The Democrats only hope was in the Solid South; however, they could never hope to win in any election without Northern support, so they maintained a stance of ambiguity. As the results of the 1856 Presidential Election trickled in, it became clear James Buchanan was the winner among the people. Though Fremont, the Republican candidate, had carried the North, the Democrats had been able to head it off. However, after the results were tallied, Buchanan, it was found, had failed to achieve an electoral majority, mainly due to some slave states falling by narrow margins to Fillmore, the Know Nothing candidate, and the narrow loss of Illinois to Fremont. As the election went to the House of Representatives, sectional differences of opinion dominated the voting. Neither Fremont nor Buchanan were able to achieve a majority even there, as most followed party lines, and Southerners rejected the notion of a Republican president, threatening secession if he were chosen. As the bickering continued into January of the next year, Senator Stephen Douglass and Speaker of the House Nathaniel Banks offered a compromise devised between the two to Congress. Millard Fillmore, considered a moderate, was offered as a compromise candidate for president. Along with several other arrangements, this became known as the “Compromise of 1856”. Congress approved the Compromise, with Millard Fillmore becoming president on March 4, 1857.