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       The Election 1856, came on the heels of the violence in Kansas.  The Democratic Party did not re-nominate Franklin Pierce.  Instead they choose a candidate who did not have a public opinion on the Kansas issue.  The candidate they choose was James Buchanan, who had been out of the country serving as ambassador to England during the Kansas Debate.

     Challenging Buchanan were two other candidates.  John Fremont, nicknamed "the Pathfinder" for his service in the Mexican War in which he played a large role in the capture of California, was the candidate from the newly created Republican Party.  The Republican party was created in 1854 largely after the death of the Whig Party.  Many Whigs and Free Soilers joined the Republican Party after the Kansas Nebraska Act.  Republicans were not abolitionists.  They believed that slavery was morally wrong and should be kept from expanding further.  The Republican Party was growing fast and in 1854 had won 108 seats in the Congress.  Now they had their first run at the presidency with the slogan "Free Soil, Free Speech, Fremont!"

     A third candidate in 1856 was former president Millard Fillmore.  Fillmore was running for the American or "Know Nothing Party".  The Know Nothing Party grew out of a secret society.  The Know Nothing Party was primarily anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic.

  When the votes were counted, Buchanan who some called "Old Dough Face", was elected president.  Many people feared that the Republicans threatened the union because of their stand on slavery.  Buchanan had a lot of political experience throughout his life.  He was a cautious, dignified, and patriotic.  He was never married and wore a high collar to hide a scar on his neck.  He also had a glass eye.  While in office, Buchanan would have to deal with the nation's most difficult problems caused by the slavery issue. His cautious attitude and lack of effective leadership would earn him many enemies.