1852 Whig National Convention

1852 Whig National Convention
1852 presidential election

Scott and Graham
Date(s) June 1720, 1852
City Baltimore, Maryland
Venue Maryland Institute
Chair John G. Chapman
Presidential nominee Winfield Scott of New Jersey
Vice Presidential nominee William A. Graham of North Carolina
Total delegates 296
Votes needed for nomination 149
Results (President) Scott (NJ): 42 (53.72%)
Fillmore (NY): 112 (37.84%)
Webster (MA): 21 (7.09%)
Blank: 4 (1.35%)
Results (Vice President) Graham (NC): 296 (100%)
Ballots 53

The 1852 Whig National Convention was a quadrennial United States presidential nominating convention of the Whig Party. The convention adopted the party's national platform and nominated Major General Winfield Scott as its candidate for president and Secretary of the Navy William A. Graham as its candidate for vice president. The convention was held from June 17, 1852, to June 20, 1852, in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Maryland Institute.

Scott was nominated on the 53rd ballot, winning 159 votes. President Millard Fillmore received 112 votes and failed to win nomination for a full term. Secretary of State Daniel Webster was also a contender for the nomination, but failed to garner any significant support.[1]

Scott and Graham lost the 1852 presidential election to the Democratic candidates, Franklin Pierce and William R. King.


The Congressional Whig caucus, led by North Carolina Senator Willie P. Mangum, a supporter of Scott, met on April 9, 1852, to decide the date and location for the 1852 convention. The party chose to hold the convention in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Maryland Institute (assembly hall/auditorium with classrooms on second floor built above arched piers for Centre Market [also known as "Marsh Market"] on ground level), built 1851, on East Baltimore Street at Market Place/South Frederick Street on the west bank of the Jones Falls (stream - flows into the Patapsco River and Baltimore harbor) during the second week of June. Also later site of "Sanitary Fair" held to support soldiers and sailors' domestic and health needs sponsored by U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War and site of famous Abraham Lincoln visit and "Liberty Speech" (or "Baltimore Address") on April 18, 1864. Site burned during Great Baltimore Fire of February 1904.[1]


In late 1851 and early 1852, state conventions began to meet to select delegates to the national convention. The party was split between those who felt that Fillmore could not win the election and those who favored the president's nomination. Northern Whigs favored Scott while Southern Whigs tended to prefer Fillmore.

The party was also torn on the issue of slavery. Most in the party wanted to prevent slavery from becoming the dominating issue in the election. However, the Whigs were split on the issue of the Compromise of 1850, proposed and designed by Whig Senator Henry Clay. President Zachary Taylor, a Southern Whig, had tried to avoid the issue altogether by proposing that California and New Mexico be admitted as free states immediately. After Taylor's death in July 1850, Fillmore, a moderate Whig, had supported Clay's compromise and was instrumental as president in its passage. Northern Whigs, led by William Henry Seward, adamantly opposed the compromise because it did not apply the Wilmot Proviso (which banned slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico) to the western territories.

Northern Whigs launched an effort to associate Scott with the Free Soil wing of the party. Scott did not agree with the Free Soilers, who opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories. Just days before the convention was scheduled to begin, Southern Whigs warned that they would not support Scott unless he pledged to disavow the Free Soilers and to exclude them from his administration if he was elected.

The split between the Northern and Southern Whigs put Scott's nomination into doubt. State Whig conventions in the South selected solid Fillmore delegations while state conventions in the North selected strong Scott delegations. On the eve of the convention, the New York Times estimated that Fillmore would have the support of 133 delegates, Scott 120 and Webster 40.

Two weeks before the Whig convention was set to begin, the Democrats nominated Franklin Pierce, a northerner from New Hampshire. Supporters of Daniel Webster in the North decided that Scott, not Fillmore, could defeat Pierce in the general election, and several switched their support.

The convention

The convention met from June 17 to June 20.

Day 1

Delegates to the fourth Whig Party National Convention assembled also in the same Maryland Institute auditorium, above "Centre Market" at Market Place/South Frederick and East Baltimore Streets, alongside the Jones Falls stream in eastern downtown Baltimore, Maryland. Although each state was granted one delegate for each of their electoral votes, several sent more than their allotted number.

The convention convened on June 17, 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Delegates quickly selected former Senator George Evans of Maine as temporary chairman. Because a large number of delegates had not yet arrived, many on the floor objected to the selection. The delegates also appointed the Whig Party's National Committee, as well as a Committee on Credentials and a Committee on Permanent Organization, before adjourning.[1]

An evening session was held later in the day. The Credentials Committee submitted a report which was adopted and the Committee on Permanent Organization was assembled.

Day 2

The second day began with the organization of the convention. Several states had sent delegations that far outnumbered their allowed size. Virginia was allotted 15 votes and sent 45 delegates. Delegates voted to restrict states to one delegate for each of its electoral votes. The convention also adopted the party's platform. Southern delegates submitted a platform, but it was rejected in favor of a relatively weak one which caused little controversy and was easily passed by a vote of 227 to 66.[1]

Presidential nomination

The divided convention began the process of nominating a candidate. Fillmore led on the first ballot, receiving 133 votes. Scott placed a close second with 131 votes. Webster received 29 votes. Five more ballots were held with little change in the vote before the convention adjourned for the night. The next day, delegates resumed voting. On the 8th ballot, Scott took the lead with 133 votes to 131 for Fillmore, but neither received the necessary majority for nomination. The convention was deadlocked, and a number of delegates unsuccessfully moved to allow a nomination with a plurality, rather than a majority, of votes. After the 46th ballot, with Scott ahead by seven votes (but still without a majority), the delegates voted to adjourn for the night. On the first ballot of the final day of the convention, the 47th overall, Scott still had not received the majority of votes necessary for nomination. Several more votes were taken. Fillmore lost votes on each successive ballot. On the 52nd ballot, Scott received exactly half of the vote. Scott was finally nominated on the next ballot, obtaining a majority when several delegates from New England and Virginia switched their support.

Vice presidential nomination

Secretary of the Navy William A. Graham was nominated unanimously by the convention on the second ballot.

Voting results

Name Winfield Scott Millard Fillmore Daniel Webster Edward Bates Rufus Choate John J. Crittenden Daniel S. Douglas
Certified Votes 159 (53.72%) 112 (37.84%) 21 (7.09%) 1 (0.3375%) 1 (0.3375%) 1 (0.3375%) 1 (0.3375%)


  1. 1 2 3 4 "US President - W Convention". Retrieved 2009-11-06.
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