What would a John Bell Presidency look like?

Lets say that in the 1860 US Presidential elections that no candidates achieve a majority of 152 electoral votes. With that the election would go to the House to decide, during this hypothetical decision the future of the country and possible civil war would be at stakes. By then many southerners had begun secessionist activities. It's very likely that Representatives from Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia would lean towards Bell or Breckinridge.

36th United States Congress House of Representative's Final Vote​

Lincoln Votes: 96
Bell Votes: 99
Breckinridge 24
Douglas: 10
Abstain: 9

After the House voted for President of the United States, John Bell was elected the 16th President. It was not without controversy many Northern Democrats voted for Bell as a compromise candidate compared to Douglas and Breckinridge. Republicans in Ohio, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and others voted for Bell because they were swayed by his moderate stance and that Lincoln might cause more strain on southerners. Of course Radical-Republicans became outraged and after the voting finished on November 14th, many Republican Representatives left home from D.C. in disgust. On the 16th voting for the Vice-President started in the Senate's chamber, on the offset three Senators abstained from voting which were Stephen Douglas, Hannibal Hamlin, and Joseph Lane.

36th United States Congress Senate's Final Vote​

Hamlin Votes: 27
Everett Votes: 18
Lane Votes: 18
Johnson Votes: 2
Abstain: 3

After the final votes were allocated on the 16th it was clear that Hannibal Hamlin had won and would be the Republican Vice-President to a Constitutional President in John Bell. Just like in the House controversy took place in the Senate obviously the White House was going to be split. But also Senators like Henry Wilson Republican from Massachusetts voted for Edward Everett who was his predecessor, Stephen Douglas voted for his running mate Herschel Johnson but it was in vain. The biggest talking point was that Vice-President Breckinridge was the man counting the votes for Vice-President having already lost the White House he couldn't even get his running mate Joseph Lane into the White House either. After the voting ended and Hamlin thanked the chamber, Breckinridge stormed out road down to the White House and packed his belongings and left D.C. with his family without a formal word to President Buchanan.


On November 23rd, John Bell's cabinet was released to the public.

(Constitutional Union)-(Republican)-(Democrat)


President John Bell
Vice President Hannibal Hamlin
Secretary of State William C. Rives
Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Sickles
Secretary of War Sam Houston
Attorney General William M. Meredith (Declined) December 1st
Attorney General John Marshall Harlan (Accepted) December 19th
Postmaster General Benjamin G. Brown
Secretary of the Navy William Alexander Graham
Secretary of the Interior William H. T. Walker

President-elect Bell also chose Hamilton Fish former New York Governor to be Ambassador to Spain. Pennsylvanian Representative Samuel Blair was chosen to be the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Winfield Scott remained as Commanding General of the Army although Bell considered a replacement. Plantation Owner Stephen Duncan was appointed to a advisor role to Bell to be his Representative to the southern slave owners and businessmen.

March 4th, 1861 Inauguration Day

On a cold day in March John Bell of Kentucky and Hannibal Hamlin were inaugurated as President and Vice-President respectfully. In the South, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana had seceded from the Union but hadn't taken any action. By then Congressmen and Governors from these states had resigned from office and joined the Southern governments. But in states like Georgia and Texas they hadn't passed the articles of secession because they held hope in John Bell to keep slavery intact. For Texans they felt that they just couldn't fight Sam Houston and for Georgians they hoped that their Senator Robert Toombs could strike a deal with Hannibal Hamlin.

In the North protests, demonstrations, and riots had been breaking out since November and on March 4th the protests became more violent and several thousand Union soldiers were deployed to cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. On March 7th the Chicago Abolition Riots began in which around 7,000 abolitionists rioted throughout the city and blockaded the Mayor's mansion and city hall. Attorney General Harlan ordered Lieutenant Colonel Henry S. Burton to lead 11,000 soldiers to end the riots but it only antagonized more northerners. Some abolitionists saw it as John Bell taking the side of the South. But in reality John Bell spent most of his days signing documents and giving his seal of approval to his cabinet members to execute the function of the country. And during the northern riots, Bell spent his days either reading or having lunch with his family.

On March 11th the Chicago Riots ended with most of city in ruin and around 400 civilian casualties and 70 soldiers dead as well. In the South the new Confederacy was assembling militias and an government while states like Arkansas and Virginia began writing articles of secession. In Washington 26 Representatives including Thaddeus Stevens and 6 Senators left the Capitol building in protest of the Northern crackdowns. Although they left D.C. the only one who formally resigned was Democrat Stephen Douglas as he saw no hope in the government, although when he returned to his home in Chicago he found his house destroyed. On March 27th Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in New York City accompanied with representatives Stephen Baker, James McKean, Abram Olin, along with governor Edwin Morgan. In his speech he announced his distain for slavery, secessionists, and especially John Bell. A few hours after his speech Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin telegraphed Lincoln who was with governor Morgan telling them that his speech would not ease tensions.

April 12th, 1861 Bombardment of Fort Sumter

After Union soldiers were defeated at Fort Sumter, South Carolina most Northerners expected John Bell to finally step in especially after Georgia finally broke on April 4th and Interior Secretary Walker resigned and defected to join the Confederate Army. But Bell proceeded as usual. In 1900 private documents of the Bell Presidency became public knowledge revealing that he had been overcome with anxiety and worry that he had no way of preventing or winning a conflict. With that Kentucky politicians secessionist or not had lobbied him to resign and prevent war over Kentucky. It was also revealed that Hannibal Hamlin had taken the everyday duty of President and began cabinet meetings without Bell's knowledge.

On April 20th, Senate accepted Frederick Low's nomination to Secretary of the Interior. April 27th, in response of increasing military precautions in the North Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Sickles resigned to join the Union Army as an officer. April 28th, Henry W. Davis nomination to Secretary of the Treasury was accepted.

June 17th, 1861 Impeachment of President Bell?

On April 30th Northern Senators and Congressmen who left D.C. in protest returned to the capitol to impeach President John Bell. The process began on the 18th, Bell was accused with "possible treasonous acts" most Republican Congressmen agreed that in the face of duty as the Commander in chief he failed to defend the constitution, military, and state. No one said it better than Thaddeus Stevens who said "no one has been a lamer duck" referring to Bell relying on Hamlin and his cabinet to rule. On June 7th the House of Representatives impeached President Bell. The Senate was Bell's last line of defense unluckily for him around 11 of them were in states drafting secession articles and the others were aligned with Republicans and three seats were vacant. On June 10th the Senate began the impeachment process, and Bell was likely to be removed from office. But on June 14th Texas finally seceded and Senators Louis Wigfall and John Hemphill resigned and formally joined the Confederacy a week later. On June 17th the Senate impeached President Bell, and he was removed from office hours later.

On June 17th, at 9:00 PM, Hannibal Hamlin took the oath of office in Oval Office. Within days he signed Executive order 144 which began a military draft and ordered states to deploy at least 12,000 soldiers by June 30th. He also signed Executive order 145 which ordered the Post Office to put "a gag" on Northern News Papers that criticized the draft, Bell's impeachment, and Hamlin's actions. On June 24th Hamlin notified Winfield Scott to hold southern forts not yet taken, with that man border state forts. He ordered Navy Secretary Graham to begin scouting operation along the Southern coastline. On June 27th he met with Secretary of War Sam Houston and requested his absolute loyalty which Houston agreed, together they drafted Operation "Kingmaker" where he would coordinate with Postmaster General Benjamin B. Brown to entice Confederate defectors from border states like Tennessee, Virginia, and Arkansas.

July 4th, 1861 Houston's Declaration and Kentucky Splits
 
After the final votes were allocated on the 16th it was clear that Hannibal Hamlin had won and would be the Republican Vice-President to a Constitutional President in John Bell.

How would that be possible? The Senate had a Democratic majority (until southern states departed) and no Democrat would ever have voted for Hamlin.
 
In such an event - the House picks between the top three Presidential candidates on the basis of one state one vote and elimination ballots until one candidate has a majority .The Senate picks the VP between the top two on the basis of one man one vote .
 
According to this analysis, done using W-Nominate scores to assess likely voting preferences, a contingent election in a scenario where Lincoln had an electoral plurality, Breckenridge second, and Bell third would have resulted in Lane winning the Vice Presidency cleanly in the Senate, while Lincoln would come up at least one state short of a majority in the House.

The paper goes on to project that rather than accept a deadlock which would lead to Lane becoming (Acting?) President, House Republicans would likely have thrown their support behind Bell as the lesser evil.

I'm not so sure about the last part, but it's definitely plausible enough to base a TL on. My assessment is that it's more likely that Oregon's lone Representative (Lansing Stout, scored in the analysis as favoring Bell and as preferring Lane over Lincoln in a potential House deadlock scenario) would have made a deal to elect Lincoln, as 19th century patronage offered plenty of ways to buy off a single Congressman's vote to elect a President, and as Stout had a recent professional grudge against Lane since the latter had pulled strings to deny the former renomination to his House seat in the 1860 elections.
 
How would that be possible? The Senate had a Democratic majority (until southern states departed) and no Democrat would ever have voted for Hamlin.
Democrats from the border states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri favored Bell's running-mate with that 2 Democrats voted for Douglas' running-mate, any other Democrats voted for Breckinridge's running-mate. You also would have three abstain voters. So the Democrats would be split three ways whilst the Republicans were dead set on Hamlin. And some Northern Democrats like George Pugh were anti-slavery Democrats who couldn't support Douglas. Also even if you crunched the numbers to it's maximum Hamlin still would've won by majority.
 
Would Bell and Hamlin actually co-exist or would Hamlin resign when confronted with working with a slave owner? Bell would probably pressure him to resign as well.
 
According to this analysis, done using W-Nominate scores to assess likely voting preferences, a contingent election in a scenario where Lincoln had an electoral plurality, Breckenridge second, and Bell third would have resulted in Lane winning the Vice Presidency cleanly in the Senate, while Lincoln would come up at least one state short of a majority in the House.

The paper goes on to project that rather than accept a deadlock which would lead to Lane becoming (Acting?) President, House Republicans would likely have thrown their support behind Bell as the lesser evil.

I'm not so sure about the last part, but it's definitely plausible enough to base a TL on. My assessment is that it's more likely that Oregon's lone Representative (Lansing Stout, scored in the analysis as favoring Bell and as preferring Lane over Lincoln in a potential House deadlock scenario) would have made a deal to elect Lincoln, as 19th century patronage offered plenty of ways to buy off a single Congressman's vote to elect a President, and as Stout had a recent professional grudge against Lane since the latter had pulled strings to deny the former renomination to his House seat in the 1860 elections.
Sure Lane could've won but with the fact that Republicans held the House he would need all Constitutional, Democrat southern and northern, and any Know Nothing congressmen to vote. He might also need Republicans to flip. As I see the scenario Bell was the middle ground candidate and his running-mate Edward's was a seasoned Senator. But Hamlin was the best choice for Northern Democrats and Republicans, an entire Constitutional Union White House would've been unacceptable. So I don't disagree with your view I think Hamlin would've been both the public's and house's choice.
 
Would Bell and Hamlin actually co-exist or would Hamlin resign when confronted with working with a slave owner? Bell would probably pressure him to resign as well.
Well if you read it, Bell was a slave owner but many Northerners as well owned or had a spouse with slaves. Hamlin would compromise Bell at the most but I doubt he'd ever call him his friend or colleague. I would assume that Bell would've been the weaker of the two as Hamlin would've been seen as the Republican's and abolitionists' President. While Bell would've been popular in Kentucky, Tennessee, parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia. In the south no one would care who was President because Bell wasn't in favor of slavery expansion and with a Republican VP he would've been more unpopular. Bell would've been impeached by a Republican Congress after March 1861 and Hamlin would take immediate action against the south.
 
Democrats from the border states like Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri favored Bell's running-mate with that 2 Democrats voted for Douglas' running-mate, any other Democrats voted for Breckinridge's running-mate.
That is constitutionally impossible. The Senate can only choose between the *two* higest-place candidates. That, on these electtoral College results, would be Hamlin and Everett. No one else could be voted for.
 
By then many southerners had begun secessionist activities.
In response to the election of Republican Lincoln. If a Republican was not elected, there would be no secessionist moves.
36th United States Congress House of Representative's Final Vote
Lincoln Votes: 96
Bell Votes: 99
Breckinridge 24
Douglas: 10
Abstain: 9
When the House elects the President, voting is by state delegations, with a majority of Representatives present from a state required to cast the state's vote, and a majority of delegations required to elect, In the 36th Congress.

Republicans controlled 15 delegations (CT, IN, IA, ME, MA, MI, MN, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WI), Douglas Democrats controlled 2 (IL, MO), Breckenridge Democrats controlled 12 (AL, AR, CA, DE, FL, GA, LA, MS, OR, SC, TX, VA), Bell supporters controlled 1 (TN), and 3 were split equally between Breckinridge Democrats and Bell supporters (KY, MD, NC). (Bell's "Constitutional Union Party" was created for the 1860 election by former Whigs. The incumbent House, which would have chosen the President, had been elected in 1858-1859, when many former Whigs were elected to the House as "American" (Know-Nothing) or "Opposition" candidates. These men would have supported Belll.)

Also, the House chooses from the three candidates with themost electoral votes. Thus one of the four major candidates would not be eligible. Douglas had the fewest EV OTL (12). However, ITTL, Lincoln had 180 EV and would have to drop by at least 29 EV, and Douglas was the second place finisher in 15 of the 17 states carried by Lincoln. If Douglas gained those 30 EV, he would have 42 EV, more than Bell (39 EV OTL), and Bell would be ineligible. Breckinridge had 72 EV.

One possibility is that Douglas runs stronger in the south as well as the north, drawing a larger share of the southern Democrat vote away from Breckinridge, so that Bell wins LA, MD, and NC (24 EV). That would move Bell to 63 EV and Breckinridge to 48 EV; Douglas would be fourth with 42 EV.

It is however likely that if Lincoln falters, Breckinridge, not Douglas, would carry OR (3 EV); and the 4 EV Lincoln won in NJ would go to Bell . (There was a Bell-Douglas "fusion ticket" in NJ, but OTL some Democrats refused to vote for the 4 Bell electors, allowing 4 Lincoln electors to win.) So the most likely EV result with no majority could be Lincoln 145 (-IL, IN, CA, OR, 4 NJ), Breckinridge 51 (-LA, MD, NC, +OR), Douglas 40 (+IL, IN, CA), Bell 67 (+LA, MD, NC, 4 NJ).

All this matters, because it determines who are the possible alternatives to Lincoln. None of the 15 slave state delegations will vote for Lincoln, nor CA or OR, whose Representatives were all pro-southern. Thus he can't be elected. Breckinridge could win if enough slave state ex-Whigs and MO Democrats support him. Bell could win if Breckinridge was ineliglble and all the slave states plus CA and OR support Bell. Alternatively, if Bell and Breckinridge are eligible, the Republicans might support Bell as the least obnoxious alternative, and if disgruntled Douglas men in IL amd MO come in, and TN holds, Bell could win that way.

However, there is another possibility: the House remains deadlocked until the end of the term, and the Vice President elected by the Senate becomes President. That would have been Breckinridge's running mate Joe Lane, if he was eligible. (The Senate chooses between the top two finishers in in EV for VP.) In OTL, Republicans warned of this possibility during the 1860 campaign, asserting that the contest was effectively "Lincoln or Lane". The Senate was 26 Republicans, 2 "Americans", and 38 Democrats (28 southerners, 7 pro-southern "Doughfaces", and 3 Douglasites). So the southern Democrats would control the election of the VP, and it would be whoever was not Hamlin.
 
I skimmed over the comments, but like the other commentators I spotted a serious enough error in the original poster of the timeline, that the timeline may have to be started over.

First, Lincoln has to be deprived of an electoral college majority, meaning his total of electors has to be knocked down from 180 to 153 or lower. The easiest way to do this is to have Douglas carry New York instead of Lincoln, but there is a problem in that Lincoln won New York with a 7.7% margin (and the Douglas ticket in New York was a fusion ticket, so vote splitting was not a factor), so you need a POD that reverses that. Lincoln had narrower margins in Illinois, California, and Oregon, against Douglas in the first two states and against Breckinridge in Oregon, but they combined for only 15 EVs and the POD reversing the New York result won't affect the West Coast states and may not apply to Illinois. Maybe you could have Illinois, Ohio, and California go to Douglas, which does it, and the Lincoln margin in Ohio was only slightly greater than New York, but in electoral terms the result is the same. Other than the three Oregon electors, any way you reduce the Lincoln electoral vote total to under 154 results in 35 electors or thereabouts going to Douglas instead.

Switch 35 electors to Douglas, and Douglas is now in second place in the electoral college with 74 electors. Breckinridge is third with 72. Bell at 39 is not in the top three and not be considered by the House. Switch Missouri (Douglas over Bell by 0.2%) to Bell and Bell goes to 48 and Douglas goes to 65. You still need to have a POD where Bell carries Maryland and North Carolina instead of Breckenridge, giving him 18 and knocking Breckinridge down to 54. The problem here is that other than Missouri's 9 electors, any plausible means of giving Bell more electors and getting him into the top three means taking electors from Breckinridge. And other than Oregon's 3 electors, you can't get Lincoln below an electoral college majority without switching electors from Lincoln to Douglas. This wasn't a real four way race, it was a two way race in the North and a two way race in the South with different candidates, with some oddities such as the race between Lincoln and the Breckinridge fusion ticket in Pennsylvania (not particularly close) and the race between Lincoln and Breckinridge in Oregon and Douglas and Bell in Missouri, but otherwise its Lincoln vs Douglas and Breckinridge vs Bell.

So the implications of this is that mathematically, to get Bell into third place, you wind up putting Douglas in second place and I don't see any way around that. Now, presented with a choice of Lincoln, Douglas, and Bell, the House of Representatives opts for a compromise candidate to try to head off sectional conflict and decides the Bell works better in this scenario than Douglas or Lincoln. But the Senate is choosing between Hamlin and Douglas's running mate, Herschel Johnson of Georgia.

A POD could be to move up Douglas' death to one year earlier (1861 instead of 1862), but its before the election and the Democrats persuade Horatio Seymour of New York to substitute for Douglas at the top of the ticket. The Breckinridge campaign folds, but there is still enough enough southern unhappiness with Seymour as the Democratic candidate that many southern Democratic voters vote for Bell. Seymour carries New York and New Jersey, and several southern states, but there is still an electoral college deadlock and Bell emerges as the compromise candidate. In this scenario, if the House of Representatives elects Bell and the Senate elects Herschel Johnson, you wind up with a President and a Vice President both from the south, a situation that had been carefully avoided up to that point. Lincoln and Hamlin were the first President and Vice President both from the same section (and they were at least from the Midwest and Northeast). So maybe as part of the compromise the Senators from New York and New Jersey vote for Hamlin to make him VP instead of Johnson.
 
Continued
July 4th, 1861 Houston's Declaration and Kentucky Splits

July 4th, 1861 Sam Houston Secretary of War gives a speech in Baltimore. It would be sent throughout the Union and even to Texas, it would be a message to all southerners that their fight will be in vain and that they will be blamed for brining the nation down. In Texas soldiers and militias were conflicted with the fact that Houston had stood by the Union. And when his words reached them by July 11th, an estimated 11,000 Texans fled North to the Kansas territory to rejoin the North. Around 6,000 men expected to be drafted into the Confederate armed forces defected, Sam Houston congratulated them for their sacrifices. On July 13th Virginia officially joins the Confederacy after Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns from the Union Army.

On July 17th the Kentucky State House voted in favor of secession but only days after that happened Union soldiers marched into Northern Kentucky in order to restore order. But his was responded with a telegraph from Jefferson Davis to Hannibal Hamlin so cease his treachery, in order to create legitimacy for the action, Hamlin established a rival pro-Union government in Louisville.

The Louisville Government
Governor Cassius M. Clay
Lieutenant Governor Thomas L. Crittenden
Secretary of State Speed S. Fry
Attorney General James M. Schackelford
President of the Senate Joseph P. Taylor
Speaker of the House William Harrow


The Government was made up of mostly Union officers from Kentucky. And the Government sent no Representatives or Senators to the Congress as it was to not to last. The government convened in Louisville on the 23rd, and after Frankfort was captured on the 28th. The government was reconvened in Frankfort on the 4th of August and was formally re-established as the Government of Kentucky. Although the Confederate disputed the legality of the state's government they move on.

The Civil War Begins and John Bell's Betrayal

On August 9th, 1861 with the Confederate militias and armies ready they declared war upon the North to curve their aggression. Hamlin had been ready for this event and Union soldiers were at the ready. The First Battle of Bull Run was on August 11th in Virginia, it resulted in a draw between the Union and the Confederacy but the south took the most loses. On August 13th Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina secede from the Union and join the Confederacy although Tennessee will be under martial law until August 28th due to Union sympathizers. In a move that wasn't completely shocking John Bell joins the Confederate Congress from Tennessee. But Bell will reign after only a year in office due to slipping health.

August 28th through September 18th.
Battles:

Battle of Cross Lanes (Confederate)
Battle of Rich Mountain (Confederate)
Battle of Blackburn's Ford (Union)
Second Battle of Bull Run (Union)
Battle of Wilson's Creek (Confederate)
Battle of Kessler's Cross Lanes (Confederate)
Battle of Bowling Green (Union)
Raid at Sikeston, Missouri (Draw)
First Battle of Springfield (Confederate)
Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries (Union)

August 28th through September 18th.
Events:

Robert E. Lee becomes General of the Army of Northern Virginia. (September 4th)
Winfield Scott is replaced with John Buford Jr. to lead the Eastern Command. (September 10th)
Abraham Lincoln is awarded a political appointment to lead the 21st Illinois Regiment although he would be given a chief of staff due to his below average military knowledge. (September 17th)

1606246994023.png

Lincoln on September 24th with his Chief of Staff in Kentucky.

The British Are Coming?
 
I skimmed over the comments, but like the other commentators I spotted a serious enough error in the original poster of the timeline, that the timeline may have to be started over.

First, Lincoln has to be deprived of an electoral college majority, meaning his total of electors has to be knocked down from 180 to 153 or lower. The easiest way to do this is to have Douglas carry New York instead of Lincoln, but there is a problem in that Lincoln won New York with a 7.7% margin (and the Douglas ticket in New York was a fusion ticket, so vote splitting was not a factor), so you need a POD that reverses that. Lincoln had narrower margins in Illinois, California, and Oregon, against Douglas in the first two states and against Breckinridge in Oregon, but they combined for only 15 EVs and the POD reversing the New York result won't affect the West Coast states and may not apply to Illinois. Maybe you could have Illinois, Ohio, and California go to Douglas, which does it, and the Lincoln margin in Ohio was only slightly greater than New York, but in electoral terms the result is the same. Other than the three Oregon electors, any way you reduce the Lincoln electoral vote total to under 154 results in 35 electors or thereabouts going to Douglas instead.

Switch 35 electors to Douglas, and Douglas is now in second place in the electoral college with 74 electors. Breckinridge is third with 72. Bell at 39 is not in the top three and not be considered by the House. Switch Missouri (Douglas over Bell by 0.2%) to Bell and Bell goes to 48 and Douglas goes to 65. You still need to have a POD where Bell carries Maryland and North Carolina instead of Breckenridge, giving him 18 and knocking Breckinridge down to 54. The problem here is that other than Missouri's 9 electors, any plausible means of giving Bell more electors and getting him into the top three means taking electors from Breckinridge. And other than Oregon's 3 electors, you can't get Lincoln below an electoral college majority without switching electors from Lincoln to Douglas. This wasn't a real four way race, it was a two way race in the North and a two way race in the South with different candidates, with some oddities such as the race between Lincoln and the Breckinridge fusion ticket in Pennsylvania (not particularly close) and the race between Lincoln and Breckinridge in Oregon and Douglas and Bell in Missouri, but otherwise its Lincoln vs Douglas and Breckinridge vs Bell.

So the implications of this is that mathematically, to get Bell into third place, you wind up putting Douglas in second place and I don't see any way around that. Now, presented with a choice of Lincoln, Douglas, and Bell, the House of Representatives opts for a compromise candidate to try to head off sectional conflict and decides the Bell works better in this scenario than Douglas or Lincoln. But the Senate is choosing between Hamlin and Douglas's running mate, Herschel Johnson of Georgia.

A POD could be to move up Douglas' death to one year earlier (1861 instead of 1862), but its before the election and the Democrats persuade Horatio Seymour of New York to substitute for Douglas at the top of the ticket. The Breckinridge campaign folds, but there is still enough enough southern unhappiness with Seymour as the Democratic candidate that many southern Democratic voters vote for Bell. Seymour carries New York and New Jersey, and several southern states, but there is still an electoral college deadlock and Bell emerges as the compromise candidate. In this scenario, if the House of Representatives elects Bell and the Senate elects Herschel Johnson, you wind up with a President and a Vice President both from the south, a situation that had been carefully avoided up to that point. Lincoln and Hamlin were the first President and Vice President both from the same section (and they were at least from the Midwest and Northeast). So maybe as part of the compromise the Senators from New York and New Jersey vote for Hamlin to make him VP instead of Johnson.
Well its more or less if Douglas had done better in Illinois, California, New Jersey, Missouri. And through that he forces the House to decide the Presidency. Sure Breckinridge still has the second most votes but when it goes to the House they will be deciding the future. Northerrn Democrats and Constitutional Unionists and No Nothings would side with Bell or Douglas. But because of the importance of this election a few representatives will not vote. Democrats from Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, would see Bell as a middle man if they choose Lincoln the South is mad, if they choose Breckinridge the North is mad, Douglas would be the worst so Bell is the middle ground candidate.

For the Senate the same issue is there, Douglas, Joseph Lane, and Hamlin must abstain. Almost all Southern Democrats vote for Lane, Expect the Senators of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia. Senator Henry Wilson I believe would've compromised for his predecessor Everett, but Republicans would pick up Senator George Pugh of Ohio, and Henry Rice of Minnesota. Johnson would received votes from only two Northern Democrats, were more secured in getting Everett elected who had at least 10 secured votes. I mean when I look at the map there's an margin for error but in the case where the democrats are split between three candidates the republicans still win the Senate.
 
I skimmed over the comments, but like the other commentators I spotted a serious enough error in the original poster of the timeline, that the timeline may have to be started over.

First, Lincoln has to be deprived of an electoral college majority, meaning his total of electors has to be knocked down from 180 to 153 or lower. The easiest way to do this is to have Douglas carry New York instead of Lincoln, but there is a problem in that Lincoln won New York with a 7.7% margin (and the Douglas ticket in New York was a fusion ticket, so vote splitting was not a factor), so you need a POD that reverses that. Lincoln had narrower margins in Illinois, California, and Oregon, against Douglas in the first two states and against Breckinridge in Oregon, but they combined for only 15 EVs and the POD reversing the New York result won't affect the West Coast states and may not apply to Illinois. Maybe you could have Illinois, Ohio, and California go to Douglas, which does it, and the Lincoln margin in Ohio was only slightly greater than New York, but in electoral terms the result is the same. Other than the three Oregon electors, any way you reduce the Lincoln electoral vote total to under 154 results in 35 electors or thereabouts going to Douglas instead.

Switch 35 electors to Douglas, and Douglas is now in second place in the electoral college with 74 electors. Breckinridge is third with 72. Bell at 39 is not in the top three and not be considered by the House. Switch Missouri (Douglas over Bell by 0.2%) to Bell and Bell goes to 48 and Douglas goes to 65. You still need to have a POD where Bell carries Maryland and North Carolina instead of Breckenridge, giving him 18 and knocking Breckinridge down to 54. The problem here is that other than Missouri's 9 electors, any plausible means of giving Bell more electors and getting him into the top three means taking electors from Breckinridge. And other than Oregon's 3 electors, you can't get Lincoln below an electoral college majority without switching electors from Lincoln to Douglas. This wasn't a real four way race, it was a two way race in the North and a two way race in the South with different candidates, with some oddities such as the race between Lincoln and the Breckinridge fusion ticket in Pennsylvania (not particularly close) and the race between Lincoln and Breckinridge in Oregon and Douglas and Bell in Missouri, but otherwise its Lincoln vs Douglas and Breckinridge vs Bell.

So the implications of this is that mathematically, to get Bell into third place, you wind up putting Douglas in second place and I don't see any way around that. Now, presented with a choice of Lincoln, Douglas, and Bell, the House of Representatives opts for a compromise candidate to try to head off sectional conflict and decides the Bell works better in this scenario than Douglas or Lincoln. But the Senate is choosing between Hamlin and Douglas's running mate, Herschel Johnson of Georgia.

A POD could be to move up Douglas' death to one year earlier (1861 instead of 1862), but its before the election and the Democrats persuade Horatio Seymour of New York to substitute for Douglas at the top of the ticket. The Breckinridge campaign folds, but there is still enough enough southern unhappiness with Seymour as the Democratic candidate that many southern Democratic voters vote for Bell. Seymour carries New York and New Jersey, and several southern states, but there is still an electoral college deadlock and Bell emerges as the compromise candidate. In this scenario, if the House of Representatives elects Bell and the Senate elects Herschel Johnson, you wind up with a President and a Vice President both from the south, a situation that had been carefully avoided up to that point. Lincoln and Hamlin were the first President and Vice President both from the same section (and they were at least from the Midwest and Northeast). So maybe as part of the compromise the Senators from New York and New Jersey vote for Hamlin to make him VP instead of Johnson.
1606249533174.png

I basically looked at the states where Douglas could've beat lincoln in and states that Bell could've won. Sure its a stretch to say that Lincoln could've lost but it was never not in doubt. And when it goes to the House they will know that either Lincoln or Breckinridge will ensure chaos. If Northern Dems, Constitutional Union, Know Nothings, and just a few non radical republicans vote for Bell he wins by majority a close one because Lincoln will pick every Republican from NY, IL, CAL, OH, PA, MA. As for the VP the Senate will be split Northern Dems will not win it by a longshot because Bell stole Douglas' fire, Johnson will win the Southerners outside of TN, KY, and MO. Republicans will secure their senators except for maybe Senator Wilson of MA. But the Republicans will win every other Republican and will steal two Northern Democrats who were anti slavery and anti Breckinridge. Ie (Henry Rice and George Pugh). So sure Johnson could've been elected VP but when the three other parties appeal to northers and middle ground states, it would be a uphill battle for Johnson's candidacy. If you think it's too unrealistic there plenty of other civil war or 1860 content on this website.
 
. So sure Johnson could've been elected VP but when the three other parties appeal to northers and middle ground states, it would be a uphill battle for Johnson's candidacy.
Not if the only alternative is Hamlin
.
The Republicans have only 26 Senators, against 38 Dems and 2 Border-State Know-Nothings. So even if Hamlin gains the votes of two northern Dems he still loses 36-28 - or 34-28 if the two KNs abstain.

One other point. A VP can be chosen only by "a majority of the whole number" of Senators, which in 1861 would be 34. He *cannot* be elected simply by a majority of the votes cast. So abstentions don't help Hamlin. The most they can possibly do is create a deadlock in the Senate similar to that in the HoR. If the deadlocks persist through March 4, then presumaably the President of the Senate becomes acting POTUS. OTL, that would have been Solomon Foot of VT, a Republican, but of course his election was only made possible by the withdrawal of Senators from seceded states, which TTL won't yet have happened. If these are still still present, then a the Pres Pro Tem will be a Democrat, probably the previous hollder, Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama, or just conceivably his immediate predecessor, Jesse Bright of Indina, a "Doughface" who would later be expelled from the Senate for his open supporrt of the Confederate cause. ,
 
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Not if the only alternative is Hamlin
.
The Republicans have only 26 Senators, against 38 Dems and 2 Border-State Know-Nothings. So even if Hamlin gains the votes of two northern Dems he still loses 36-28 - or 34-28 if the two KNs abstain.

One other point. A VP can be chosen only by "a majority of the whole number" of Senators, which in 1861 would be 34. He *cannot* be elected simply by a majority of the votes cast. So abstentions don't help Hamlin. The most they can possibly do is create a deadlock in the Senate similar to that in the HoR. If the deadlocks persist through March 4, then presumaably the President of the Senate becomes acting POTUS. OTL, that would have been Solomon Foot of VT, a Republican, but of course his election was only made possible by the withdrawal of Senators from seceded states, which TTL won't yet have happened. If these are still still present, then a the Pres Pro Tem will be a Democrat, probably the previous hollder, Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama, or just conceivably his immediate predecessor, Jesse Bright of Indina, a "Doughface" who would later be expelled from the Senate for his open supporrt of the Confederate cause. ,
You forget that they'd be voting for the top three VP's so Bell's running-mate would steal votes from Democrats. So yes if the Democrat senators are split the Republicans win with 26 or 28 votes. In Tenneessee, Kentucky, and Virginia would lean towards Bell because he won their states' vote and he was still a slave owner. Missouri if or not won by Bell would've forgone Douglas because he wouldn't have any chance to win nor would his running-mate. Leader of the Constitutional Union Party John Crittenden who was a senator could've definingly convinced Democrats and Know-Nothings to support Bell's running-mate. For the Know-Nothings they would draw from the fact that the Constitutional Union party and Crittenden was an extension of the Whig Party and Henry Clay.
 
In the event of an electoral college deadlock, the Senate votes for the top two EV vote getters among Vice Presidents. The House votes for the top three for President.

The rules are complicated and not many people know or understand them.

The electoral map posted above is a plausible way of getting Lincoln, Breckinridge, and Bell into the two three spots for EVs and also depriving Lincoln of an Electoral College majority. But this is difficult to do! Lincoln's margin over Douglas in Indiana was 9.5%. But yes you can get a Lincoln-Breckinridge-Bell top three finish and deprive Lincoln of an EV majority but you have to do some really convoluted stuff. But for the Vice Presidential vote in the Senate, its going to be Hamlin against either Johnson or Lane, since there is no way the Bell-Everett ticket gets into the two two.
 
The only way Bell could win in the House is if the Republicans, seeing that Lincoln cannot win, decide to vote for Bell. (After all, Bell, though a slaveholder, did oppose both the Kansas-Nebraska bill and the Lecompton Constitution He would surely be a lesser evil than Breckinridge or a deadlock making Lane president.) I think this unlikely. And even if they do, some of Bell's southern supporters may have second thoughts about voting for a man who is backed by "Black Republicans."

As for the Senate, Lane is easily elected vice-president. Breckinridge Democrats had a clear majority in the Senate. So if, as is quite conceivable, there is a deadlock in the House, Lane becomes Acting President--though maybe like Tyler he will claim he's President, period.
 
In the event of an electoral college deadlock, the Senate votes for the top two EV vote getters among Vice Presidents. The House votes for the top three for President.

The rules are complicated and not many people know or understand them.

The electoral map posted above is a plausible way of getting Lincoln, Breckinridge, and Bell into the two three spots for EVs and also depriving Lincoln of an Electoral College majority. But this is difficult to do! Lincoln's margin over Douglas in Indiana was 9.5%. But yes you can get a Lincoln-Breckinridge-Bell top three finish and deprive Lincoln of an EV majority but you have to do some really convoluted stuff. But for the Vice Presidential vote in the Senate, its going to be Hamlin against either Johnson or Lane, since there is no way the Bell-Everett ticket gets into the two two.
Agreed. The 12th Amendment screws the pooch on this one and there's no plausible way to fudge the EV tallies without completely rewriting the vote totals for multiple states.
 
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