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Democratic Platform, 1860 (Breckinridge faction)
Digital History ID 3951


Annotation: John C. Breckinridge served as President Buchanan’s vice president. Later, he became the presidential candidate in the 1860 election, after the Democratic Party split into three factions. He represented the Southern faction in support of slavery. According to Breckinridge, the federal or local governments lacked the power to restrict slavery in any of the territories. He believed in secession as a right; however, at the time of the election, he disapproved of states exercising that right.

Document: Democratic Platform of 1860 (Breckinridge Faction)

June, 1860 Richmond, Virginia

Resolved, that the platform adopted by the Democratic Party at Cincinnati be affirmed, with the following explanatory resolutions:

1. That the Government of a Territory organized by an act of Congress is provisional and temporary, and during its existence all citizens of the United States have an equal right to settle with their property in the Territory, without their rights, either of person or property, being destroyed or impaired by Congressional or Territorial legislation.

2. That it is the duty of the Federal Government, in all its departments, to protect, when necessary, the rights of persons and property in the Territories, and wherever else its constitutional authority extends.

3. That when the settlers in a Territory, having an adequate population, form a State Constitution, the right of sovereignty commences, and being consummated by admission into the Union, they stand on an equal footing with the people of other States, and the State thus organized ought to be admitted into the Federal Union, whether its constitution prohibits or recognizes the institution of slavery.

Resolved, That the Democratic party are in favor of the acquisition of the Island of Cuba, on such terms as shall be honorable to ourselves and just to Spain, at the earliest practicable moment.

Resolved, That the enactments of State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law are hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.

Resolved, That the Democracy of the United States recognize it as the imperative duty of this Government to protect the naturalized citizen in all his rights, whether at home or in foreign lands, to the same extent as its native-born citizens.

Whereas, one of the greatest necessities of the age, in a political, commercial, postal and military point of view, is speedy communication between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Therefore be it

Resolved, that the National Democratic party do hereby pledge themselves to use every means in their power to secure the passage of some bill, to the extent of the constitutional authority of Congress, for the construction of a Pacific Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, at the earliest practicable moment.

Source: National Party Platforms: Volume I 1840-1956, compiled by Donald Bruce Johnson, University of Illinois Press, p. 31

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