On this day in history, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States, and was the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator for Illinois.
According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whenever she lectures, someone brings up the question of whether or not Lincoln could get elected today. She says:
If I didn’t believe Abraham Lincoln could win today, I might as well give up,” Goodwin said and then added: “OK, shave the beard and get rid of the stovepipe hat. But I think he was actually sexy.”