(17.) JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE (1821-1875)
Defeated by Republican Abraham Lincoln/Hannibal Hamlin, 1860

Breckinridge was elected vice-president in the campaign of 1856 as running mate for James Buchanan. The president’s inaugural address set the measure for the administration’s stand on the issue of the day, condemning further agitation of the slavery question and advocating non-interference with slavery in the states and “popular sovereignty” in the territories. The Democrat party declared this the only solution to the troubles of the country.

In 1860 the party split, the Douglas faction reaffirming the platform of 1856. The delegates from eight southern states then withdrew and those known as “The Charleston Seceders” met at Baltimore and nominated John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for president and Joseph Lane of Oregon for vice president. Their platform supported slavery in the territories, the admission of slave states into the Union, and the acquisition of Cuba. These divisions among his opponents made Lincoln’s election almost certain.

Breckinridge was a Confederate general in the Civil War and Jefferson Davis’ Secretary of War at its close.