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Contact: Melinda Day, 304-535-6063
On Saturday October 15th, from 11am to 4pm, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park invites you to attend and participate in the living history event called “Election Day 1860.” Participate in a national Presidential Election and cast a ballot to change the course of history. Each of the presidential candidates’ political platforms will be interpreted through special displays and living history campaign headquarters. Each will illustrate the social, economic, cultural and political divisions that permeated the national scene in the 1860s. Polls for park visitors and living history volunteers will be offered in the park’s Dry Goods Store exhibit, offering everyone an opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice as the 1860 President of the United States.
This year’s event offers a unique opportunity to look back 157 years to the roots of Civil War and how John Brown’s 1859 Raid influenced the 1860 voter at the ballot box. The white Abolitionist John Brown attempted to seize weapons from the town’s United States Armory in his ill-fated effort to arm and free slaves. Brown and the surviving raiders were captured by U.S. Marines. They were convicted of conspiring insurrection, treason, and murder. Brown was executed on December 2nd, 1859. Brown’s Raid further polarized slavery and anti-slavery factions, including national political parties, and influenced the 1860 presidential election. This living history program will share these opposing viewpoints with park visitors.
The election labeled Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln as a “Black Republican.” Lincoln is not on the ballot in the state of Virginia. Politically, the south is Democratic and hatred for the Republican is intense. Lincoln was pitted against a vast array of experienced Democratic and Constitutional Union Party politicians with contrasting viewpoints on slavery at play in the political arena. On November 6, 1860, the American electorate cast their ballots for the next President of the United States. This resulted in the election of Abraham Lincoln that provoked secession of southern states. Civil War soon followed.
For further information, call Harpers Ferry National Historical Park at (304) 535-6029.