Election of 1856 Explained, by Hip Hughes. Democratic incumbent Franklin Pierce faced problems. He saw the abolitionist movement as an existential threat to a unified nation. He signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act expanding slavery into new territories, which led to Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas. Stephen A. Douglas, the father of “popular sovereignty,” which held that each territory should be able to decide their own position on slavery, also ran. And John C. Fremont ran as the first Republican.
Pierce consistently ranks as one of the worst presidents. He was followed by Buchanan, who consistently ranks as THE WORST president.
Steve Inskeep in the NYT: “It’s 1856 All Over Again. Immigration. Race. Demographic change. Political demagogy. That year’s presidential race had it all. What can it tell us about 2020?”