In 1856, John C. Breckinridge became the youngest vice president in U.S. history as the running mate of James Buchanan. Before Breckinridge's term ended, his state nominated him for the U.S. senate. When the Northern Democrats nominated Stephen Douglass for the party's presidential nominee in 1860, the Southern faction split and elected Breckinridge as their candidate. After Republican Abraham Lincoln won the election, the Southern states began to secede. In the U.S. Senate, Breckinridge stressed the right of secession, and believed in peaceful separation. When Kentucky ended their neutrality in favor of the Union in September 1861, Breckinridge fled the state out of fear of arrest and joined the Confederate army. He was made a brigadier general and saw action in the Western theatre of the war. He would be made a major general and eventually transported to Virginia. At the Battle of New Market, he had his most successful day as a military commander, leading his troops along with VMI cadets in a successful attack. On February 6, 1865 Breckinridge was appointed Secretary of War by President Jefferson Davis. After the war, he fled to Europe out of fear of imprisonment. He returned in 1869 after being pardoned and died in Lexington, KY on May 17, 1875.