Theo Lippman Jr.

September 15, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 17th was held in 1852. For the second time in eight years an incumbent president who had acquired the office because of a death in the White House was denied renomination. The president was Millard Fillmore, whom the Whigs refused to renominate in part because he endorsed the Compromise of 1850, which included a new Fugitive Slave Act. Whigs nominated Winfield Scott, a military hero and anti-slavery man.

The Democrats also accepted the Compromise and also compromised by nominating the obscure New Hampshire Sen. Franklin Pierce when all the leading candidates refused to concede to each other at a stalemated convention.

For the first time both parties made a pitch for immigrant votes, especially Catholic, a sign of the growing tide of immigration from Ireland and Germany. Pierce won an electoral vote landslide. The Whigs were now permanently split by the slavery issue between what were called ''Conscience Whigs'' and ''Cotton Whigs.'' It was the last presidential election in which the party was a real competitor.

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