1856 Whig National Convention

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1856 Whig National Convention
1856 presidential election
Millard Fillmore1.jpg Andrew J. Donelson portrait.jpg
Fillmore and Donelson
Date(s) September 17–18, 1856
City Baltimore, Maryland
Venue Maryland Institute
Chair Edward Bates
Presidential nominee Millard Fillmore of New York
Vice Presidential nominee Andrew Donelson of Tennessee
Total delegates 150
Votes needed for nomination 76
Results (President) Fillmore (NY): 150 (100%)
Ballots 1
‹ 1852

The 1856 Whig National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nomination convention of the Whig Party. The convention was held at the 1851 landmark Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts over the old Centre ("Marsh") Market in Market Place (formerly Harrison Street) between East Baltimore Street and Water Street along South Gay Street and the west bank of the Jones Falls stream through downtown Baltimore, in Maryland on September 17 and September 18, 1856. Same site as the previous 1852 Convention. Former President Millard Fillmore was nominated as the party's candidate for President, four years after a failed bid to win the nomination in 1852. Andrew J. Donelson, nephew of the late President Andrew Jackson, was nominated as the party's candidate for Vice President. The convention was the last for the Whig party, which had floundered after losing a total of 37 seats in the Congress in the 1850 and 1852 elections. The Democratic candidates James Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge, won the 1856 presidential election.

Fall of the Whigs[edit]

The Whig party had been declining in power for some time before its last national convention in 1856. In the 1850 midterm elections, Democrats strengthened their majority as the Whigs lost 23 seats in the House and 2 seats in the Senate. In 1852, the Whigs lost another 14 House seats and one Senate seat. Furthermore, they lost the 1852 presidential election, their third loss in five campaigns.

A major reason for the Whig party's decline was a loss of its most influential leaders. Whig leaders from Southern slave states joined the Democratic party. Additionally, the Whigs' New York state convention in Syracuse voted to join with the newly formed Republican Party.

On March 10, 1856, the Whig National Committee met and voted to reject the New York Whigs' merger with the Republican party. Whig leaders from Kentucky met and held their state convention in April. There they voted to call a national convention.

In the months leading up to the national convention, Whigs met in convention in several states to select which delegates would be sent to Baltimore in September. Delegates to these state conventions debated several options for the upcoming general election: the party could choose former President Millard Fillmore as its candidate, nominate another Whig, or endorse the Democratic candidate James Buchanan. As the state conventions met, Fillmore emerged as the clear choice.

The Last Whig Convention[edit]

Twenty-six states out of thirty-one sent 150 delegates to the national convention in late September 1856. The convention met for only two days and on the second day (and only ballot) quickly nominated Fillmore for president, who had already been nominated for president by the Know Nothing party. Andrew Jackson Donelson was nominated for vice president.

Among the delegates to the convention was John Bell of Tennessee.[1]


Millard Fillmore-Edit1.jpg
Name Millard Fillmore
Party Whig
Certified Votes 150 (100.00%)
Margin 0 (0.00%)


  1. ^ "Old Lines Whig of Maury". Nashville Daily Patriot. Nashville, Tennessee. 3 September 1856. Retrieved 12 August 2016.