As previously mentioned in this blog, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supports a fantastic website for researching all aspects of the South during the Civil War era called Documenting the American South. On this website, there are several important resources that relate to the crucial election of 1860. A simple search of the collection for the term “election of 1860” does not yield much relevant information; therefore, as is often the case, the subject index is more useful for finding these materials. In this instance, the best materials are found under the heading United States — Politics and Government — 1857-1861. An important document found here is John Willis Ellis’s speech at the 1860 North Carolina Democratic Convention. It presents a look into the Democratic party in North Carolina leading up to the election of 1860. While the speech was an acceptance of his party’s nomination for a second term as governor, Ellis focused on national issues in his address. He attacked William H. Seward, then running for the Republican presidential nomination, and called on Democrats to overlook the divisive issue of the ad valorem tax in favor of party unity. This was supported by western Democrats but opposed by eastern Democrats because it taxed slaves at lower rates. The division of the Democratic party along this (and other) lines was a deciding factor in Republican Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency in 1860. In this speech, Governor Ellis saw the divisions already forming in the party, however his warnings were not enough to unite the Democrats.