The presidential election took place on November 6, 1860, when sectional tensions were unusually high. Everyone understood that the result of the election could change the course of American history, but most men who voted did not select which candidate or party to support based exclusively on one issue, and they did not necessarily believe that the result of the election would definitely determine whether the Union survived. Two Democratic Party candidates for president, John C. Breckinridge and Stephen A. Douglas, the Republican Party candidate, Abraham Lincoln, and the candidate of the new Constitutional Union Party, John Bell, all received votes in the Electoral College, but Lincoln won the largest number of popular votes and a majority of the electoral votes. In Virginia, the presidential election of 1860 was the closest in history. The election intensified sectional tensions and added to uncertainty about the nation's future. Moreover, its outcome also precipitated the greatest crisis in the history of the United States and led to a sequence of events that nobody at the time could have accurately predicted.
Four candidates vied for the office of president of the United States during the 1860 election.
When the voting concluded on November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln had received more popular votes in the United States than any of the other candidates and had won a majority of the electoral votes. In Virginia, it was the closest presidential election in history.