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Presidential Election of 1856: A Resource Guide

James Buchanan, Democratic candidate for President of the United States
James Buchanan, Democratic Candidate for President of the United States.
1 print on wove paper: wood engraving with letterpress.
New York: Baker & Godwin, 1856.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the presidential election of 1856, including broadsides, prints, political cartoons, sheet music, newspaper articles, and government documents. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the presidential election of 1856 that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the 1856 election and a selected bibliography.

1856 Presidential Election Results [1]

Political Party
Presidential Nominee
VP Nominee
Electoral College
Popular Vote
James Buchanan
John C. Breckinridge
John C. Fremont
William L. Dayton
Millard Fillmore
Andrew Jackson Donelson

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960) of Chicago presented his outstanding collection of Lincolniana to the Library of Congress in 1953. This online release presents more than 1,300 items with more than 4,000 images and a date range of 1824-1931.

America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets

For most of the nineteenth century, before the advent of phonograph and radio technologies, Americans learned the latest songs from printed song sheets. Not to be confused with sheet music, song sheets are single printed sheets, usually six by eight inches, with lyrics but no music.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection consists of published congressional records of the United States of America from 1774 to 1875.

  • On February 11, 1857, the Electoral College votes for the presidential election of 1856 were counted by a joint session of Congress and reported in the Congressional Globe, as well as in the Senate Journal and the House Journal.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909

This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820 to 1860

Consists of over 15,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the years 1820 to 1860, including the following sheet music from the 1856 presidential election:

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. While the broadside format represents the bulk of the collection, there are a significant number of leaflets and some pamphlets.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1789-19242. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the presidential election of 1856.

A selection of articles on the 1856 presidential election includes:

Prints & Photographs Division

Pictorial Americana: Selected Images from the Collections of the Library of Congress

Pictorial Americana, a Library of Congress publication, contains a chapter listing selected images related to the 1856 presidential election.

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

Search PPOC using the following subject headings to find additional prints, political cartoons, and other digital images related to the presidential election of 1856. Also try searching by keywords and by names of candidates.

External Web Sites

The American Presidency Project: Election of 1856 External Link

The American Presidency Project Web site presents election results from the 1856 presidential election. This site also contains the Democratic Party Platform,External Link Whig Party Platform,External Link and the Republican Party Platform External Link of 1856.

Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860 External Link

The Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project Web site provides histories of the presidential campaigns from 1840-1860, as well as primary source material, such as campaign biographies and campaign songbooks. Recordings of some of the songs are also available.

Selected Bibliography

Primary Sources: Campaign Literature

Official Proceedings of the National Democratic Convention, Held in Cincinnati, June 2-6, 1856. Pub. by Order of the Convention. Cincinnati: Enquirer Company Steam Printing Establishment, 1856. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Proceedings of the First Three Republican National Conventions of 1856, 1860 and 1864, Including Proceedings of the Antecedent National Convention Held at Pittsburg, in February, 1856. Minneapolis: C. W. Johnson, 1893. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link


1. Presidential Elections, 1789-2008. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010), 133, 223.

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  March 16, 2022
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