John C. Fremont wins the US Presidency in 1856

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,747
SoCal
#1
What if John C. Fremont would have won the US Presidency in 1856? Would the American Civil War have broken out four years earlier than it did in real life? If so, how would Fremont have handled it--especially in comparison to Lincoln in real life?

Indeed, how would Fremont's Presidency have been different from Lincoln's Presidency in real life? Also, would Fremont have won reelection in 1860?
 
Feb 2019
649
Pennsylvania, US
#2
What if John C. Fremont would have won the US Presidency in 1856? Would the American Civil War have broken out four years earlier than it did in real life? If so, how would Fremont have handled it--especially in comparison to Lincoln in real life?

Indeed, how would Fremont's Presidency have been different from Lincoln's Presidency in real life? Also, would Fremont have won reelection in 1860?
Well, I'm probably just stating the obvious, but Frémont was definitely going to be 'an acting' abolitionist whereas Lincoln really was not. Lincoln was more or less a reluctant accessory to the anti-slavery cause... Frémont was against allowing new territories to decide whether they would be 'slave' or 'free' and was truly pitted against the entire institution of slavery... If Frémont were elected in 1856, some pivotal events often thought to be a galvanizing force for the Civil War would have happened during his first four years in office (Dred Scott Case; Raid on Harpers Ferry), supposing that war had not already begun. The Democratic candidate who won that year (Buchanan) used the fear of Republicans pushing the country into civil war as one of his major campaign talking points... Perhaps Buchanan would have been correct and Frémont would have seen the war in his first term...

Maybe John Brown would have enlisted and Dred Scott would have been emancipated?
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,747
SoCal
#3
Well, I'm probably just stating the obvious, but Frémont was definitely going to be 'an acting' abolitionist whereas Lincoln really was not. Lincoln was more or less a reluctant accessory to the anti-slavery cause... Frémont was against allowing new territories to decide whether they would be 'slave' or 'free' and was truly pitted against the entire institution of slavery... If Frémont were elected in 1856, some pivotal events often thought to be a galvanizing force for the Civil War would have happened during his first four years in office (Dred Scott Case; Raid on Harpers Ferry), supposing that war had not already begun. The Democratic candidate who won that year (Buchanan) used the fear of Republicans pushing the country into civil war as one of his major campaign talking points... Perhaps Buchanan would have been correct and Frémont would have seen the war in his first term...

Maybe John Brown would have enlisted and Dred Scott would have been emancipated?
I thought that Lincoln also wanted to prevent the further expansion of slavery? He was in favor of slavery where it already existed but opposed to expanding it any further.
 
Jul 2009
9,915
#4
I thought that Lincoln also wanted to prevent the further expansion of slavery? He was in favor of slavery where it already existed but opposed to expanding it any further.
I don't think Lincoln was "in favor of slavery." He was a realistic politician - and a very savvy one. His position, perhaps not the position of the Republican Party, was that slavery, repugnant though it was, might be tolerated where it existed so long as the Union was preserved. The Confederate States screwed the pooch by giving up their influence in Congress for waging a war they could never win.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,747
SoCal
#5
I don't think Lincoln was "in favor of slavery." He was a realistic politician - and a very savvy one. His position, perhaps not the position of the Republican Party, was that slavery, repugnant though it was, might be tolerated where it existed so long as the Union was preserved. The Confederate States screwed the pooch by giving up their influence in Congress for waging a war they could never win.
Yeah, that makes sense. Also, Yes, the South really shot themselves in the foot big time with their secession attempt since it resulted in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments getting shoved down their throats!
 
Feb 2019
649
Pennsylvania, US
#6
I thought that Lincoln also wanted to prevent the further expansion of slavery? He was in favor of slavery where it already existed but opposed to expanding it any further.
I think Lincoln was perhaps not in favor of seeing slavery spread through new states - so he did share that with Frémont... Lincoln wasn't against abolishing slavery, but he was more neutral, it seems. Alot of his ideas about slavery reflected the predominant beliefs about race at the time - his goal was to keep the Union intact, whether that included freeing slaves or not. Frémont really embodied more of the abolitionist spirit - while serving in the Union army he instituted martial law in Missouri and included emancipation of the belligerents' slaves there. It was a pretty audacious move... He used his position to try to do what he thought was the morally right thing to do and did not back down. It seemed like Lincoln was more sensitive to the differing stances and tried to find middle ground.
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
19,747
SoCal
#7
I think Lincoln was perhaps not in favor of seeing slavery spread through new states - so he did share that with Frémont... Lincoln wasn't against abolishing slavery, but he was more neutral, it seems. Alot of his ideas about slavery reflected the predominant beliefs about race at the time - his goal was to keep the Union intact, whether that included freeing slaves or not. Frémont really embodied more of the abolitionist spirit - while serving in the Union army he instituted martial law in Missouri and included emancipation of the belligerents' slaves there. It was a pretty audacious move... He used his position to try to do what he thought was the morally right thing to do and did not back down. It seemed like Lincoln was more sensitive to the differing stances and tried to find middle ground.
Interesting analysis. When did Lincoln decisively embrace emancipation? With his Emancipation Proclamation at the start of 1863?
 
Feb 2019
649
Pennsylvania, US
#8
Interesting analysis. When did Lincoln decisively embrace emancipation? With his Emancipation Proclamation at the start of 1863?
Lincoln was quoted as saying (I'm paraphrasing) if freeing slaves he could save the Union, he'd do it - if keeping the slaves could save the Union, he'd do it - and if freeing some and keeping some enslaved could save the Union, he'd do it. Later he favored the idea of sending former African slaves to colonies in the Caribbean (some letters prior to his death indicate that he was still amicable to the idea, even though an attempt at colonizing Haiti by free slaves failed). But from a military stand point, freeing the slaves removed them from the reach of Confederates - they were helpful to their war effort. Escaped slaves were not returned to their owners and called “contraband of war”... so obviously their freedom was recognized as a means of weakening the South.

Lincoln timed emancipation to correspond with a Union victory so that it did not appear to be a last desperate act... so it was rather a more calculated and political move than moral and emotional. Possibly over time Lincoln's stance softened towards the slaves... but he was pretty well in sync with the popular opinions of the time, which were that people of African descent were inherently inferior to whites. I mean, as an example, our mutual favorite, Teddy Roosevelt, was the first president to have a black man to dinner in the White House and the response from the country was shock. So many years later it seems that the racial divide still held strong...
 
Likes: Futurist

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,978
Caribbean
#9
What if John C. Fremont would have won the US Presidency in 1856? Would the American Civil War have broken out four years earlier than it did in real life?
That's what Grant said at the time - that the election of Buchanan delayed war for four years. It is an interesting observation, since states disuniting themselves from the union had been openly discussed since the 1790s, Grant seems to sense the Republican Party will use that as a causus belli, even though their Platform does not say that.
 
Likes: Futurist

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,978
Caribbean
#10
Maybe John Brown would have enlisted and Dred Scott would have been emancipated?
How would Scott have been emancipated? President Fremont would have sent a military detachment to snatch Scott from his owner? Or bought Scott to free him? (FWIW, the opinion was being crafted while Pierce was President).
 
Last edited:
Likes: Futurist