In 1860, GOP’s Brokered Convention Changed America Forever

By Tom Wurtz

It appears the 2016 GOP primary will be a brokered convention. Odds suggest no candidate will acquire 1,237 delegates to secure the nomination.

The pundits predict a brokered convention will fuel chaos and possibly violence. Why all the hyperbole? It’s happened numerous times.

Let’s travel back in time and learn a remarkable story about one GOP brokered convention.

Abraham Lincoln, America's 16th president (Photo Credit: AP)
Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president (Photo Credit: AP)

In 1860, America was divided. Democrats in the south believed black lives were property while Republicans in the north believed black lives mattered. A Civil War was on the horizon. The Civil War could have easily been called the Republican/Democrat War.

At that time, a GOP candidate needed to secure 233 delegates to win the nomination. The leading candidate, William Seward, out of New York, secured only 173.5 delegates. The second and third candidates accumulated 102 and 54 delegates respectively. Seward was the clear delegate leader. I’m sure Seward’s supporters lobbied that the convention must not “steal” his nomination or there would be hell to pay.

Seward was a strong anti-slavery, pro-immigration and pro-Catholic candidate. The GOP establishment feared his latter positions would jeopardize northern support. Nativism was popular in the north and nobody wanted the pope to “run” the United States. This was a silly notion as the pope was busy maintaining the world’s biggest wall around Vatican City.

Seward’s top contender was more moderate in his public views.

The second ballot saw the second place candidate surge from 102 delegates to 181 while Seward slightly increased to 184.5.

The challenger continued his momentum on the third ballot securing 231.5 delegates compared to Seward’s 180.

The final ballot stunned the nation as the initial second-place challenger secured 349 delegates to win the nomination.

It was an amazing and historical turn of events.

The challenger, who came from a distant second to overwhelmingly win the GOP nomination in 1860, was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln went on to win the general election by winning the anti-slavery north (Republicans) and losing the pro-slavery south (Democrats).

Shortly after Lincoln won the election, the southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln vowed to hold the Union together at all cost. The Civil War was the bloodiest war in U.S. History with approximately 620,000 deaths. History proves that Lincoln was the right leader at the right time. The GOP primary process worked.

Again, history has placed America in a time of great conflict. The Democrats big government masters are battling the Republican pro-freedom patriots. Politically, not much has changed in the last 156 years.

Yes, a GOP brokered convention is probable. Will the GOP select a pro-freedom candidate like Lincoln or another big government master like Romney or McCain? History awaits our decision.

Tom Wurtz is a conservative writer from Kentucky. Contact Tom at tomwurtz@fuse.net.