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The Contenders

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 42.1 
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For the presidential election of 1856, the Democrats nominated James


  Buchanan and John Breckenridge, the newly formed Republican party nominated


  John Fremont and William Drayton, the American [or Know-Nothing] party


  nominated former president Millard Fillmore and Andrew Donelson, and the


  Abolition Party nominated Gerrit Smith and Samuel McFarland.


          Buchanan started his political career as a state representative in


  Pennsylvania, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1821,


  appointed minister to Russia in 1832, and elected US Senator in 1834. He was


  appointed Secretary of State in 1845 by President Polk


  and in that capacity helped forge the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which


  ended the Mexican War. He was appointed by President Polk as minister to


  Great Britain in 1853. As such, he, along with the American ministers to


  Spain and France, issued the Ostend Manifesto, which recommended the


  annexation of Cuba to the United States. This endeared him to southerners,


  who assumed Cuba would be a slave state.


  He was one of several northerners supported over the years by southern


  Democrats for being amenable to slaveholders' interests, a situation


  originating with Martin van Buren.


      Buchanan's two major rivals for the nomination, Franklin Pierce and


  Stephen Douglas, were both politically tainted by the bloodshed in Kansas.


  Buchanan was untainted, since he had been abroad during most of the


  controversy. Even so, he did not secure the nomination until the seventeenth


  ballot.


      Fremont was best known as an explorer and a war hero. He surveyed the


  land between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, explored the Oregon Trail


  territories and crossed the Sierra Madres into the Sacramento Valley. As a


  captain in the Army, he...

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