Abraham Lincoln, though widely beloved and admired today, was controversial, to say the least, during his time in office as president of the United States during the American Civil War. Many Democrats strongly opposed his prosecution of the war; some openly called for peace negotiations with the Confederates to stop the hostilities. Others vehemently opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. Some hated his extensive use of presidential war powers to suspend the writ of habeus corpus to keep Maryland in the Union by military and political force. Lincoln’s calling of 75,000 volunteers to join the Union army to suppress the rebellion led to additional states joining the Confederacy.
On the other hand, some in his own Republican Party felt that Lincoln was too moderate and too centrist with his policies. The so-called Radical Republicans favored a harsher prosecution of the war and demanded an unsparing attitude toward punishing the “Southern traitors.” Strict abolitionists wanted Lincoln to take a more aggressive stance toward ending slavery nationwide, not just in the Confederate states (the Emancipation Proclamation did not cover slaves in border or pro-Union states such as Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, West Virginia, and Kentucky).
Here in York County, the local elections in the spring of 1863 reflected growing anti-Lincoln sentiment, even in areas such as Carroll Township and Wrightsville, which had strongly supported Lincoln in the election of 1860. Then, the county had strongly supported a “fusion ticket,” headlined by the Democratic vice-president of the U. S., John C. Breckinridge (later a prominent Confederate general).
An article in the pro-Democratic Gettysburg Compiler from March 30, 1863, boasted of the recent local results.