Monday, October 1, 2012

Los Angeles and the Election of 1860

Los Angeles didn't look like much in 1860 - there really wasn't a lot there. A small military outpost, a few ranchos, some burros, a couple of dusty streets, and not much else. But there were voters and a growing population, and since California had achieved statehood in 1850, many good Angelenos with a sense of civic responsibility made their way to the polls to cast their vote in the 1860 presidential election.

Statewide, Lincoln barely edged out Stephen Douglas, with a popular vote of 38,733 to Douglas's 37,999. John C. Brekinridge, the Southern Democrat, managed to come in a close 3rd with 33,969 and John Bell, the Constitutional Unionist got 9,111. So by the narrowest of margins, Lincoln got to add California's 4 electoral votes to the Republican column.

These results say quite a bit about the Golden State's political diversity. From what I understand, northern Californians tended to go with Lincoln while southern Californians sided with his opponents. There was one bilingual paper in Los Angeles at the time that fervently supported Douglas Democrats  - The Los Angeles Star - and once the shooting started was so critical of the federal government that the paper's editor was accused of treason and his publication was banned from the mail. Wonderful information to have indeed. But I need the numbers form 1860.

I am on the lookout for a city by city report on the returns for the election in an effort to gauge support for the various issues unfolding in the East. If you have the numbers - please pass them along. I will be forever grateful!



  1. Great photo. I laid out the map looking south down Broadway from 1st. St. Hill St. runs parallel to Broadway to the right, so I assume that the hill is Bunker Hill. In the photo Bunker Hill looks bigger than I imagined it. I think it has been flattened a number of times over the years.

  2. I think you are correct, Greg. You should check out this site I found with tons of old LA photos - from the library database.