WASHINGTON – With the wounds of a hard-fought political campaign still raw, the country was sharply divided by the time the election was finished.

It was Nov. 6, 1860, 150 years ago today, that President Abraham Lincoln was elected amid the rising tensions that led to the Civil War.

The anniversary of Lincoln’s election kicks off nearly five years of events by the National Park Service and others marking the Sesquicentennial of the war between North and South.

“We’re trying to say it’s more than battles,” Park Service tourism chief Dean Reeder said of the Civil War commemorations. Lincoln’s election helps frame the context of what would come, he said.

“It was a way contentious election in 1860,” Reeder said.

A century and a half ago, in a nation already torn by disputes over states’ rights and the expansion of slavery, the Democratic Party split into Southern and Northern factions. Within a month of Lincoln’s election, Southern states began declaring secession.

Reenactments of the 1860 election will take place today in Kentucky and at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Ill.

Later, the Park Service will recreate Lincoln’s journey from Illinois to Washington and his inauguration in March 1861.

Plans are well under way for many events next year. A website will launch this month with dates and details.