1861 California gubernatorial election

The 1861 California gubernatorial election took place on September 4, 1861. Incumbent Governor John G. Downey was not a candidate for renomination, as his Democratic Party had violently ruptured over the issue of slavery and secession. Downey was a Lecompton Democrat, those who favored slavery in the Kansas Territory and who were running as now as the Breckenridge or "Chivalry" Democrats. These Chivalry Democrats supported Attorney General John McConnell. Anti-slavery or anti-secession Democrats were the "Unionist" Democrats who favored John Conness.

1861 California gubernatorial election
← 1859 September 4, 1861 1863 →
  Leland Stanford c1870s.jpg John R. McConnell.jpg John Conness.jpg
Nominee Leland Stanford John R. McConnell John Conness
Party Republican Southern Democratic Democratic
Popular vote 56,036 33,751 30,944
Percentage 46.41% 27.96% 25.63%

Governor of California before election

John G. Downey

Governor of California

Leland Stanford

With the dire split in the Democratic Party, even more bitter than in 1859, former Republican nominee Leland Stanford won a plurality of the popular vote and won the governorship. Stanford polled less than a tenth of the vote last election[1] and became the first Republican Governor of California. Both Stanford and Conness later served in the United States Senate.


California gubernatorial election, 1861[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Leland Stanford 56,036 46.41
Southern Democratic John McConnell 33,751 27.96
Democratic John Conness 30,944 25.63
Total votes 120,731 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic


  1. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA Governor Race - Sep 07, 1859". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  2. ^ S. Lucas (1901). "Article". The Quarterly. Historical Society of Southern California, Los Angeles County Pioneers of Southern California. 11: 40. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  3. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA Governor Race - Sep 04, 1861". www.ourcampaigns.com.

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