On this day in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president with just 39.8 percent of the popular vote. For those keeping score at home, that’s not a majority, but it is a plurality—made possible by three other major candidates in the race. The Democrats ran Stephen Douglas, representing a northern faction of the party, and John C. Breckinridge, representing the pro-slavery wing. And the Constitutional Union Party put forth John Bell, who won 44 percent of the vote in Virginia, besting Breckinridge by a mere 156 votes.
In the category of cause and effect, a year later on this day Jefferson Davis was elected to one six-year term as president of the Confederate States of America. And sixty-seven years after that, Herbert Hoover, pride of West Branch, Iowa, was elected president with the help of Virginia, where he received support from the Ku Klux Klan.
IMAGE: Results from the 1860 presidential election (National Atlas of the United States)