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Nathaniel Currier, 27 Mar 1813 - 20 Nov 1888
Henry Ward Beecher, 24 Jun 1813 - 8 Mar 1887
Horace Greeley, 3 Feb 1811 - 29 Nov 1872
John Charles Frémont, 21 Jan 1813 - 13 Jul 1890
James Buchanan, 21 Apr 1791 - 1 Jun 1868
Millard Fillmore, 7 Jan 1800 - 8 Mar 1874
Lithograph on paper
Image: 22.7 x 38.8cm (8 15/16 x 15 1/4")
Sheet: 34.2 x 45.5cm (13 7/16 x 17 15/16")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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This cartoon by Nathaniel Currier addresses the 1856 presidential election, which became a political contest among three candidates. The overriding issues were slavery in the states, states’ rights, and the expansion of slavery in the new territories. Former President Millard Fillmore (right), candidate for the new Know Nothing, or American, Party, criticized the abolitionist leanings of the new Republican Party, represented by preacher Henry Ward Beecher, editor Horace Greeley, and western explorer and party candidate John C. Frémont (left). In the end, Democratic nominee James Buchanan, shown as the buck, won the election, benefiting from the sectional divisiveness that was resulting in national discord. Buchanan, a Pennsylvanian and no advocate of human bondage, nevertheless defended the doctrine of states’ rights, which protected the institution of slavery in the South and allowed its expansion in the newly forming states in the West.