Even though he lost the 1858 Senate race, Lincoln was an appealing politician for the newly formed Republican Party. His debates with Douglas demonstrated his principled nature and intelligence. He quickly became popular in the eyes of the public.
In 1856, the Republicans had selected John C. Fremont as their presidential candidate. Despite the fact that he was admired for his explorations in the west, he failed to win the election. The party now looked to the widely respected Abraham Lincoln for the 1860 election. At the party's convention in Chicago, "Honest Abe" became the next presidential hopeful. Seasoned US Senator from Maine, Hannibal Hamlin was selected to be Lincoln’s running mate. Such a selection brought “geographic balance” to the ticket.