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The first presidential election to feature a Republican candidate was in 1856. General John C. Fremont was the first Republican candidate for president of the newly created Republican Party. His opponents were James Buchanan of the Democratic party and Millard Fillmore of the American Party, also known as the Know Nothing Party.
The author states this 1856 presidential election year was the most violent in our history. The hostility between the proslavery and antislavery was becoming violent. The Kansas-Nebraska act erupted into a what is called bleeding Kansas. A congressman shot an Irish immigrant at a Washington Hotel. Another Senator beat a fellow senator senseless on the floor of the Senate.
General Fremont was a very popular candidate. For the first time, his wife played a central role in the campaign. Usually the wife stayed in the background even if they were active in their husband’s campaign. The violence was building in the Dred Scott v Sandford case and the Supreme Court came out with its verdict in 1857. As the violence was building and in spite of Fremont’s popularity, the votes started to turn. There was widespread feeling that things were falling apart and the voters turned to who they thought would be the safer choice, James Buchanan. Recently, I read a biography of Buchanan and it was stated he was the worst president we have had to date.
The book is well written and researched. The book is easy to read and provides a lot of details about the 1856 election. Bicknell does an excellent job explaining how events got elevated into political symbols. My only complaint is Bicknell did not have much detail about Fremont even thought he was the key figure in the book. Bicknell calls it a year of passion and partisanship.
The book is ten and a half hours long. Bob Souer does a good job narrating the book. Souer is voice over artist and audiobook narrator.
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