US presidents: Race, religion and re-election?

As the United States prepares to vote either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney into the White House, Adam Smith draws parallels between the current battle and five previous presidential contests

A 1864 campaign banner. (David J & Janice Frent/Corbis via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine 

1864 “Don’t swap horses”

Barack Obama launched his first campaign for the presidency in Abraham Lincoln’s home town of Springfield, Illinois, quoting his predecessor’s warning that a nation divided against itself cannot stand.

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