Like all elections the 1868 Election must be understood in the context of the events of the time. 1868 was in the middle of Reconstruction and so how to handle the states in rebellion was the primary question. Republicans wanted to safeguard the rights and protections of the new freedmen, while the Democrats did not believe those rights were federal issues. Democrats believed Civil Rights were a state issue. Interesting that over a 150 years later we are still arguing over the role of federal vs. states’ rights.