Fire-Eaters Walk Out of the Democratic Convention

Monday, April 23, 1860 to Monday, April 30, 1860

Illustration of the "Fire-Eaters" meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. Originally published in Harper's Weekly. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

"Fire-Eaters," or extreme secessionist Democrats, walk out of the Democratic Convention in Charleston, South Carolina. The divide between the Southern Fire-Eaters and moderate Northern Democrats (the latter led by Senator Stephen Douglas), ultimately splits the Democratic ticket when the failed convention reconvenes in Baltimore. For the first time, the Democratic Party nominates two candidates -- Stephen A. Douglas and John C. Breckinridge. The split in the Democratic Party helps pave the way for Abraham Lincoln, a Republican and former state representative of Illinois, to win the presidency


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