Lincoln campaigned actively on Fremont's behalf, and the Republicans gained significant support particularly in the Northeast. However, certain southern politicians threatened secession in the event of a Fremont win, and a moderate electorate eventually swept the more conservative Democrat, James Buchanan, into office.
By early 1857, free-soilers outnumbered slavers in Kansas, but slavers still controlled the political machine. Like President Franklin Pierce before him, Buchanan supported the entry of Kansas as a slave state. However, Douglas united with a block of Republican voters to prevent this prospect, insisting on a proper application of popular sovereignty. A series of corrupt and inconclusive statewide referendums ensued, and eventually the issue was tabled in the face of continued bloodshed. Ultimately, Kansas would be admitted to the union in January of 1861 as a free state. But by then, the very state of the union itself had been called into question.