Douglas Attempts Democractic Party Nomination for a Second Time

The 1856 Democratic National Convention, held at Smith & Nixon's Hall in Cincinnati was the first national party nominating convention to be held outside the original thirteen states.

Called to order at Noon on Monday June 2 by National Committee chair Robert McLane, Samuel Medary was made the temporary president. The first day, the convention did little more than appoint committees on credentials, organization, and resolutions (platform). On the second day the organization committee (John L. Dawson chair) report was adopted and John E. Ward of Georgia was made the convention's President. The committee on credentials (James A. Bayard chair) settled a dispute on Missouri delegations, but needed more time for the thorny problem of New York's competing delegations. June 4th saw the adoption of a platform (former National Committee chair Benjamin F. Hallett headed the committee on resolutions); The domestic portions unanimously, the foreign policy planks by large margins. A separatly reported plank on a Pacific road was tabled (killed) by a vote of 154 to 120. On June 5, after the New York problem was finally settled by splitting the vote down the middle, nominations for President saw four men who at one time or another were nominated by the party. James Buchanan (1856), President Franklin Pierce (1852), Senator Stephen A. Douglas (1860), and Senator Lewis Cass (1848) were all put forward. On the first ballot, Buchanan led with 135½, President Pierce 122½, Douglas 33, and Cass 5 (4 from the unhappy California delegation). The fourteen ballots taken that day saw the President's totals fall, mostly to the benefit of Sen. Douglas. On June 6th, President Pierce's name was withdrawn and two more ballots taken without result (two-thirds majority being necessary). William A. Richardson, who had nominated Douglas, withdrew the Senator's candidacy and Buchanan was the nominee. When it came time to nominate a running-mate, eleven names were placed in nomination; but the convention chose former Congressman John C. Breckenridge even though he had withdrawn his name when nominated. As Vermont's David Allen Smalley stated, " Democrat has a right to refuse his services when his country calls,.." Second in total votes at the conclusion of a first ballot; the stampede was on in the second as state after state voted for Mr. Breckenridge. Eleven days later, the Republican Party would meet in its first nominating convention.