AP American History
While Abraham Lincoln was clearly against slavery, his election in the 1860 was in no means a national call for the abolition of slavery. The main problem with this theory is the fact of sectionalism.
The election of 1860 was one of many different parties, parties which all had their own political bases. Candidates ranged from the Republican party to those of the Democratic party. Main candidates were as follows; Lincoln (Republican), Douglas (Northern Democrat), Bell (Constitutional Union) and Breckinridge (Southern Democrat).
The North was almost 100% abolitionist, on the other hand the South was just the opposite. Thus, they voted for the candidate that they felt best represented their needs. The Democrats of the Southern States simply voted for the man who would do the most for their economy, their way of life and their right to own slaves. Those who voted for Breckinridge allowed him to gain his 72 electoral votes. Douglas, on the other hand made almost no impact in the election and won only his own state of Missouri, giving him his total of 12 electoral votes. Bell won most all of the western states and the borderline states of Virginia, Tennessee and Delaware, which winning gave him a total of 39 electoral votes. Lincoln won most of the heavily populated states and those with a great call to abolish slavery. He did not rule with a mandate and his total number of votes fell 1 million short of his opponents combined votes. However, he gained the most populated states and in turn recieved a majority of the electoral votes.
Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist, but in order for his election to mean a mandate to abolish slavery he would have had to received a majority of the vote which he did not. The nation showed a strong showing for abolition, but certainly not a mandate.