Douglas did not have an incredibly successful first term. However, he did face some success. With federal troops enforcing the law in the soon to be admitted state of Kansas, things went much more smoothly than they otherwise might have. As well, due largely to the fact that Douglas was from a Western state and had been supported by railroad companies in his 1856 run, he signed an act to establish a railroad spanning the entire nation from coast to coast.1860
The Whig convention was between three main contenders. The moderate and "Compromiser", former Vice President Millard Fillmore of New York, the eloquent, rural, and Free-Soiler candidate Senator Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, and the abolitionist Senator William H. Seward of New York. Lincoln had experienced a slow rise in national politics since 1846 and his election to the House. Serving there 1847 to 1849, as Interior Secretary 1853-1857, and Senator from 1857-onward, Lincoln had risen as one of the biggest opponents of extending slavery to the West and one of the most eloquent of the Whigs. With Fillmore occupying the right of the party, Lincoln the center, and Seward the left, it was one of the most talented fields in history. However, in the end, Seward was able to swing all the North-Eastern delegations his way and eventually land Fillmore in third and take the nomination. For Vice President, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio was nominated in the Mid-West.
In the general election, Seward's surrogates worked incredibly hard to compete in the main swing region, the West and Mid-West. States like Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio would be those that decided the election. However, Seward was easily branded as a radical that would lead the country to war. Keeping the South in line with fears of a radical abolitionist in the White House, Douglas as well was able to hold down the West due to his support for railroads, his home state, and high turnout in the southern parts of states.President Stephen A. Douglas (D-IL)/Senator John C. Breckenridge Jr. (D-KY) 162 electoral votesSenator William H. Seward (W-NY)/Governor Salmon P. Chase (W-OH) 141 electoral votes
Douglas' second term would not go as smoothly as he'd like have liked. The Panic of 1861 was the last event before Douglas himself died in late 1861, leaving "Fire Eater" John C. Breckenridge in charge. Enacting vastly pro-slavery policies, the admission of Kansas as a free state was soon derailed. As well, tariffs were vastly lowered. Breckenridge's advance was halted only by the results of the 1862 mid-term elections which resulted in massive gains for the Whigs. By 1864, Breckenridge was one of the weakest Presidents ever.1864
At the Democratic National Convention, Breckenridge found himself in danger of being deposed. Instead, Secretary of State James Buchanan, a conservative "doughface", seasoned in international affairs and diplomacy was pushed forward as a compromise candidate. With Buchanan finally nominated, Breckenridge vowed to fight on, running as a Southern Democrat. Meanwhile, with the nomination of Abraham Lincoln as the Whig candidate, a number of abolitionists made the decision to run their own candidate, uniting behind Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. With a four way election taking place, America found itself on the brink of veritable Civil War.Senator Abraham Lincoln (W-IL)/Former Governor Nathaniel P. Banks (W-MA) 128 electoral votesSecretary of State James Buchanan (D-PA)/Governor Andrew Johnson (D-TN) 79 electoral votesPresident John C. Breckenridge (SD-KY)/Congressman Preston Brooks (SD-SC) 66 electoral votesSenator Charles Sumner (L-MA)/Congressman Thaddeus Stevens (L-PA) 30 electoral votes
With that, the election went to the United States House of Representatives. Seeing no better choice, Sumner endorsed Lincoln. Meanwhile, with the Democrats split right in half, there was little chance of them winning. The final result was:Senator Abraham Lincoln (W-OH) 19 statesSecretary of State James Buchanan (D-PA) 8 statesPresident John C. Breckenridge (SD-KY) 6 states
With Abraham Lincoln elected President, the Senate was left with the task of appointing a Vice President. Between Andrew Johnson and Nathaniel Banks, the Senate almost overwhelmingly chose Johnson. With the South supporting Johnson, he as well gained the votes of mid-western Senators uneasy about Banks being from New England.