Millard Fillmore’s Third Party Candidacy in 1856: Unique In American History In Many Ways!

The 1856 Presidential Election is unique in many ways.

It was the first national campaign of a political party, the Republican Party, which had been founded two years earlier in opposition to slavery and to its expansion.

The Republican Party replaced the moribund Whig Party, and many of the latter’s members had joined the new party. John C. Fremont was its nominee for President, and lost by about 500,000 popular votes margin to Democratic nominee James Buchanan.

The Democratic Party, bitterly divided over slavery, was on its way to a victory in a divided country, but it would be the last Democratic Party victory until Grover Cleveland squeaked out a narrow victory three decades later in 1884. Its nominee was James Buchanan, who won the election with 174 electoral votes to 114 for Fremont.

It was also a time of a “comeback” by the last Whig President, Millard Fillmore, who had succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death in 1850, and had signed the Compromise of 1850 and opened up relations with the Japanese Kingdom.

Fillmore would go on to win the 8 electoral votes of Maryland, the only electoral votes Fillmore ever won for the Presidency, as he was denied the nomination of his party for a full term in 1852, the last national campaign of the Whigs.

Fillmore became the first of two former Presidents to win electoral votes and states after being President, the other being Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive (Bull Moose) party line in 1912, when he won six states and 88 electoral votes.

Former President Martin Van Buren had run on a third party, the Free Soil Party of 1848, won ten percent of the popular vote, but won no states or electoral votes.

But Fillmore actually won 21.5 percent of the total national popular vote in 1856, winning about 873,000 total votes, running on the American (Know Nothing) party line, campaigning against Catholic immigration from Germany and Ireland, which would not add to his stature, unfortunately! Ironically, Fillmore was not present at the convention that nominated him, and never actually joined the American Party, but he accepted the nomination, nevertheless, and he ran as a nativist, not good for his historical reputation!

26 comments on “Millard Fillmore’s Third Party Candidacy in 1856: Unique In American History In Many Ways!

  1. Mercy May 23, 2016 10:58 am

    I have to say it’s a very interesting history posting. I wonder if every time there was a split or death of a political party or there was a third party run we found ourselves on the eve of a political realignment. For example, the death of the Whigs and rise of Republicanism and Lincoln. Then split of the Republicans with Teddy Roosevelt and the irruption and dominance of progressivism in both parties, though more dominant in the Democrat party, during the next decades up until the 70’s. Then the Goldwater election which essentially, even though he lost, started the decline of the influence of the northeastern Republicans which gave way almost 20 yrs later to Reagan and the end of the FDR and post WWII liberal progressive dominance. This even affected the Democrat party with the rise of the “third rail” and “the era of big government is over” Bill Clinton administration.

  2. Ronald May 23, 2016 11:04 am

    Actually, Mercy, you make a very good point here, and it could be that we will see massive transformation now in both parties in the near future.

    We shall see what transpires!

  3. Mercy May 23, 2016 1:25 pm

    I like to look at a party’s international affiliations to see who a party shares it’s space with. Kind of like seeing where the affinity is between the world’s political parties. And I see that the Democrat Party is not a member of the Centrist Democrat International (though it does maintain a link through the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) nor is it a member of the Liberal International where it would share its space with the UK’s Liberal Democrats Party. The Democrat party is affiliated to the Progressive Alliance. There the Democrat Party shares its space with Lula’s “The Workers Party” of Brazil, Evo Morales’s “Movement for Socialism” of Bolivia, Palestine’s “Fatah (ex-PLO)”, the “Socialist Parties” of Argentina, Brazil ,Chile and France as well as the “Labour Party” of the UK ,the “Spanish Socialist Workers Party”, and the “Social Democratic Party” of Germany. Clearly the word “progressive” is another way of saying socialism or “Democratic Socialism” as some like to say. By the way, why on earth would you need to add the adjective “Democratic”? Does that mean there is a socialism that isn’t democratic? But I digress. In other words it seems that the Democratic party has undergone a mayor shift to the left. They are not even member of the Liberal International, apparently these folks here are too far right for the current Democrat party. I wonder how far left will the Democrat party go in the future? I wouldn’t be surprised if during the next decade or so we find the Democrat Party internationally affiliated with the Socialist International were it would share its space again with the “Socialist Party” of France and the “Social Democratic Party” of Germany as well as with Nicaragua’s Sandinista National Liberation Front. On the other hand the Republican party has remained in the International Democrat Union sharing its space with the Cameron’s Conservative Party of the UK, Merkel’s the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and Sarkozy’s The Republicans of France as well as Spain’s People’s Party. So from what I gather one of the mayor shifts has occurred in 2012 with the Democrat party officially affiliating itself with the Progressive Alliance. This is not only a consequence of the rise of Obama (and decline of the Clinton wing) but of the rise of Bernie Sanders. Even though he will lose the primary, the future of the Democrat party seems to be now more than ever aligned with socialism.

  4. Rational Lefty May 23, 2016 3:34 pm

    The Democratic party is a big tent party made up of liberals, progressives, centrists (which is what the Clintons and President Obama are considered), and conservatives (called Blue Dogs, typically from Southern and Western states, the minority ideology in the party). Me, Former Republican, Rustbelt Democrat, Southern Liberal, Princess Leia, and Pragmatic Progressive consider ourselves centrists. Another poster here, D, seems to be more to the left of us.

  5. Mercy May 23, 2016 4:16 pm

    Obama a centrist? Well I guess that all depends on where one is standing in the ideological spectrum and what is considered center. Clearly Obama is not an “era of big government is over” type Democrat. He is for sure to the left of Bill Clinton. As for what is center? Many on the left consider that most of their policies options are center, so we have the issue that what was considered to be center , not 20 yrs ago, but 10 yrs ago, is now considered right, if not far right. Just look at what Clinton and Democrats were saying in 1994 about illegal immigration, about securing our border, building a fence and how they favored deportation and LEGAL immigration to protect American jobs! Bill Clinton said that not Trump back in the mid 90’s. And even Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate and talked about anchor babies and how ridiculous the US policy was. That used to be center, now if you say that you an extremist right wing nut job. You can’t even speak in plain English and correctly describe the issue as an ILLEGAL immigrant problem without being accused of racism. So I am sorry, but this current day Democrat party is not Bill Clinton’s Democrat party and don’t even think it resembles the JFK Democrat party, and I am talking about the NON-Dixiecrat wing, that is the regular liberal Democrat wing.

  6. Pragmatic Progressive May 23, 2016 5:16 pm

    Mercy – When we first got into checking out political blogs, we checked out a variety before deciding on some favorites. Many left-wing blogs consider Obama and Hillary to be too far to the right for their tastes, calling them DINO’s. On the other hand, Faux News website and other right-wing blogs, consider Obama and Hillary to be too far to the left. Since, they get bashed from the left and they get bashed from the right, that’s why they are considered to be in the middle.

  7. Princess Leia May 23, 2016 5:31 pm

    She’s right. Some of the left-wing blogs we checked out referred to Obama and Hillary as “Republican lite”.

  8. Southern Liberal May 23, 2016 5:36 pm

    The thing we agree with those blogs on is that the GOTea has moved wayyyy too far to the right.

  9. Mercy May 23, 2016 6:43 pm

    Case in point to all progressives. Was Bill Clinton a racist xenophobic nut-job when he called for securing the border, building a fence, punishing employers who contract illegals, deporting illegals and finally when he was against amnesty and for crying out loud used the words ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT? Yes or No?

  10. Mercy May 23, 2016 6:48 pm

    Pragmatic. If Obama is a centrist because he gets bashed from the left and the right, then using your logic Trump would also be a centrist because he is bashed from the left and from the right (conservatives/libertarians mainly can’t stand him).

  11. Mercy May 23, 2016 6:59 pm

    “But there are some areas that the Federal Government should not leave and should address and address strongly. One of these areas is the problem of illegal immigration. After years of neglect, this administration has taken a strong stand to stiffen the protection of our borders. We are increasing border controls by 50 percent. We are increasing inspections to prevent the hiring of illegal immigrants. And tonight I announce I will sign an Executive order to deny Federal contracts to businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
    Let me be very clear about this: We are still a nation of immigrants; we should be proud of it. We should honor every legal immigrant here, working hard to be a good citizen, working hard to become a new citizen. But we are also a nation of laws.” Bill Clinton State of the Union January 23, 1996
    How can it be that these ideas are considered racist and xenophobic today?

  12. Former Republican May 23, 2016 8:51 pm

    Trump is absolutely no centrist. He’s a dangerous extremist.

  13. Pragmatic Progressive May 23, 2016 8:51 pm

    Totally correct Former Republican

  14. Princess Leia May 23, 2016 8:56 pm

    LOL!, Idiot, troll! Compare that to Trump and you’ll absolutely see that Trump’s rhetoric is racist and Clinton’s absolutely is not!

  15. Princess Leia May 23, 2016 8:57 pm

    I second that Former Republican!

  16. Ronald May 23, 2016 9:01 pm

    It amazes me how Mercy takes an entry on Millard Fillmore, and goes off on a extremist right wing rant.

    The best advice for all my commentators is to ignore him/her, another right wing troll, and when no responses are given, he/she will go elsewhere.

    We should not give Mercy any attention, as that is what he/she wants, so I have decided I will not respond anymore to any of her crazy rants!

    Goodbye, Mercy!

  17. Rustbelt Democrat May 23, 2016 9:10 pm

    Quite right Leia! Our troll shows once again that he’s an idiot!

  18. Rational Lefty May 23, 2016 9:16 pm

    Our troll is lucky. Many other blogs would have kicked him off by now for trolling.

  19. Ronald May 23, 2016 10:40 pm

    Pragmatic Progressive, I fully agree with this article.

    The polls mean nothing, and they prove nothing at this point. Hillary Clinton will win the election, one can be assured. We are not going to elect a demagogue, and the blue states are not going to switch, and all that is needed is one or two of the purple states to win the Presidency.

    This nation is NOT going to elect Donald Trump, and the Republican Party is dying, and conservatism as a serious philosophy in America has no future, as it is always has a negative view of human beings and the future.

  20. Pragmatic Progressive May 24, 2016 8:53 am

    Leia – RW trolls aren’t programmed to believe truth.

  21. Princess Leia May 24, 2016 8:58 am

    I’m very highly convince that Mercy is really Juan. Like Juan, Mercy uses lengthy paragraphs and quotes to try to sound impressive. Also like Juan, Mercy keeps mentioning about being a libertarian.

  22. Rational Lefty May 24, 2016 9:02 am

    The political blog, Winning Progressive, posted a link to an article in the New Yorker on their Facebook last night about the danger of Trump.

    Here’s their comments about the article: Here is a good explanation of the existential threat that Donald J. Trump poses to our nation. It isn’t just his crazy, xenophobic, and misogynistic ideas. It is that “if Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. . . . Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right”

  23. Pragmatic Progressive June 6, 2016 4:50 pm

    Those left-wingers we’ve encountered on left-wing blogs that constantly bash the Democrats and President Obama are usually:
    a) Far left
    b) They either vote for third party candidates or don’t vote at all

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