Matthew Brady/Library of Congress Prints and Photos Division
The outlook was not promising in 1864 for President Abraham Lincoln’s reelection.
Hundreds of hundreds of People in america experienced been killed, wounded or displaced in a civil war with no close in sight. Lincoln was unpopular. Radical Republicans in his have bash doubted his dedication to Black civil legal rights and condemned his friendliness to ex-rebels.
Momentum was creating to exchange him on the ballot with Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. A pamphlet went viral arguing that “Lincoln can’t be re-elected to the Presidency,” warning that “The people today have misplaced all self esteem in his means to suppress the rise up and restore the Union.” An humiliated Chase provided Lincoln his resignation, which the president declined.
The point remained that no president experienced received a next phrase considering the fact that Andrew Jackson, 32 yrs and 9 presidents previously. And no nation experienced held elections in the midst of civil war.
King & Beird, Printers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1864/Library of Congress
Arguments for suspending
Some urged that the June Republican conference be postponed till September to give the Union just one a lot more shot at military services victory. Other Republicans went additional, arguing that the nation really should “postpone … a Presidential election for 4 yrs a lot more … (till) the rise up will not only be subdued, but the nation will be tranquillized and restored to its standard problem.”
Keeping the election in the course of civil war would render “the vote … fraudulent,” argued the New York Sunday Mercury, in a commonly reprinted write-up. The country would “flame up in revolution, and the streets of our metropolitan areas would operate with blood.”
But Lincoln’s bash renominated him. He was a canny political strategist who calculated that nominating Democratic Unionist and military services Governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson for vice president would entice disaffected Democrats and pace countrywide reunification.
Johnson proved to be a disastrous preference for Black civil legal rights, but in 1864 his candidacy shrewdly well balanced the ticket.
Nonetheless a military services victory that could also enable Lincoln’s standing and prospective customers was elusive. Typical Ulysses S. Grant led the Overland Marketing campaign versus Confederates, led by Typical Robert E. Lee, throughout a lot of jap Virginia that spring. Right after 55,000 Union casualties – about 45% of Grant’s military – Grant laid siege to Petersburg.
By the time Democrats achieved in August to nominate Typical George B. McClellan, there was even now no close in sight to the war. Lincoln experienced taken off McLellan from command of the Union Military of the Potomac in 1862, but the normal was even now a commissioned officer. Nonetheless McClellan’s bash was in disarray. He opposed a peace settlement with the Confederacy though the Democratic Occasion system fully commited him to it.
Currier & Ives/Library of Congress Prints and Photos Division
Defeat ‘seems exceedingly probable’
Devoid of scientific polling, Lincoln and his advisers predicted defeat.
At the close of August, Lincoln wrote to his Cupboard, “it appears exceedingly possible that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my responsibility to so co-run with the President elect, as to help you save the Union among the election and the inauguration as he will have secured his election on these types of floor that he can not quite possibly help you save it later on.”
Abraham Lincoln comprehended that the war for the Union was about the integrity of a constitutional republic, not the president or the bash. It was about “a new delivery of freedom” and not about him. And that intended his victory in the election was considerably less critical to him than the destiny of the full nation.
Nonetheless Lincoln also produced contingency programs in the function he misplaced, inquiring Frederick Douglass to enable free of charge enslaved people today in rebel-held regions.
Troopers vote absentee
It was a bitter marketing campaign. Lincoln’s opponents tarred him with racist and bestial characterizations. Republicans fought back again, charging Democrats with becoming treasonous.
But no slogan discrediting the opposition was as efficient in creating assist for Lincoln as the September Union military services victories at Cell Bay and Atlanta.
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Typical Grant produced confident troopers voting absentee despatched their mail-in ballots. He furloughed other folks to go house to vote in human being.
Even on the eve of the election, there ended up even now phone calls to hold off or terminate the vote.
Lincoln, who would go on to acquire, confident these critics, “We can’t have free of charge governing administration devoid of elections and if the rise up could drive us to forego, or postpone a countrywide election it could reasonably assert to have previously conquered and ruined us.”
Calvin Schermerhorn does not perform for, check with, have shares in or acquire funding from any firm or firm that would advantage from this write-up, and has disclosed no related affiliations further than their educational appointment.