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Title The Contenders For the presidential election of 1856 the Democrats nominated JamesBuchanan and John Breckenridge the newly formed Republican party nominatedJohn Fremont and William Drayton the American or Know-Nothing partynominated former president Millard Fillmore and Andrew Donelson and theAbolition Party nominated Gerrit Smith and Samuel McFarland Buchanan started his political career as a state representative inPennsylvania was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1821appointed minister to Russia in 1832 and elected US Senator in 1834 He wasappointed Secretary of State in 1845 by President Polkand in that capacity helped forge the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo whichended the Mexican War He was appointed by President Polk as minister toGreat Britain in 1853 As such he along with the American ministers toSpain and France issued the Ostend Manifesto which recommended theannexation of Cuba to the United States This endeared him to southernerswho assumed Cuba would be a slave stateHe was one of several northerners supported over the years by southernDemocrats for being amenable to slaveholders interests a situationoriginating with Martin van Buren Buchanans two major rivals for the nomination Franklin Pierce andStephen Douglas were both politically tainted by the bloodshed in Kansas Buchanan was untainted since he had been abroad during most of thecontroversy Even so he did not secure the nomination until the seventeenthballot Fremont was best known as an explorer and a war hero He surveyed theland between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers explored the Oregon Trailterritories and crossed the Sierra Madres into the Sacramento Valley As acaptain in the Army he returned to California and helped the settlersoverthrow Mexican rule in what became known as the Bear Flag Revolution asidebar to the Mexican War He was elected as one of Californias first twoSenators The infant Republican party was born from the ashes of the Whig partywhich had suffered spontaneous combustion as a result of the slavery issue The
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