Following the Battle of Gettysburg and the Dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery at Gettysburg, the Civil War raged on, with no end in sight. President Abraham Lincoln was up for re-election in 1864. The war was wearing down Lincoln’s popularity, plus it had been three decades since a sitting President had been re-elected. Would Lincoln be the next, in a long line of sitting Presidents, to fail in a re-election bid?
In a bold move, a temporary coalition of Republicans, who strongly supported Lincoln, and War Democrats formed the National Union Party. Their nominating convention met in Baltimore, Maryland. On June 7th, Abraham Lincoln was nominated for re-election as President and Andrew Johnson, a Democrat and military governor of Tennessee, for the Vice-Presidency. Currier & Ives published the Grand National Union Banner for use in the Lincoln Re-election Campaign. The illustration below the portraits shows a man plowing with a team of horses in front of farm buildings. This scene is to represent the peace and prosperity to come with Lincoln’s re-election; and is emphasized by cornucopias on either side spilling over with fruit.
Related Gettysburg & Lincoln posts include:
- Witness to Gettysburg Address
- President Lincoln was Interrupted Five times with Applause during his Gettysburg Address
- Find Lincoln on the Gettysburg Speakers Platform
- 1925 Article sheds light on President Lincoln photograph at Hanover Junction
- Read The Actual Article: Next-day Newspaper Coverage of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
- Dallastown Soldier buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery
- Letters to LINCOLN during the Invasion; “Burning bridges on the Northern Central”
- Looking Back on the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of The Battle of Gettysburg; Part 1
- Locomotives that pulled Abraham Lincoln through York County; Lincoln Funeral Train
- In The Sights of Civil War Purists and Going Down
Continue reading as I continue to examine the Civil War Election of 1864.
The temporary coalition of Republicans, who supported Lincoln, and War Democrats, to form the National Union Party was actually a move out of necessity. The week prior to what was to be the Republican Party convention, dissenting Republicans assembled in Cleveland and nominated General John C. Fremont as their candidate for President.
John C. Fremont had been the first Presidential candidate of the new anti-slavery Republican Party in 1856. His campaign slogan was “Free Soil, Free Men, and Fremont.” In the three-way Presidential election of 1856, he placed second to Pennsylvania Democrat James Buchanan from Lancaster County.
Fremont was a Major General early in the Civil War, and rose to the rank of General. He got himself into trouble while serving as commander of the Department of the West. In 1861, Fremont imposed martial law and emancipated the slaves in Missouri. Fremont was relieved of command of the Department of the West when he refused to revoke his order emancipated the slaves in Missouri. General Fremont was ultimately relieved of his command entirely in 1862.
The National Union Party’s other Presidential opponent was another General. The Democrats nominated General George B. McClellan, whom Lincoln had also relieved of his command in 1862. In mid-September, General Fremont dropped out of the race; fearing a three-way decision like 1856, that would likely place a Democrat in the White House. Fremont decided to throw his support to the Union Party and Lincoln; thus making it a two-man race for the Presidency.
A Union Party handbill made these distinctions between the Union Party Platform and the Democratic Party Platform:
The Union Platform affirms that the Union is to be maintained by quelling by force of arms the Rebellion now raging against its authority; while the Democratic Platform condemns the National effort to do this as a failure, and demands immediate efforts for a cessation of hostilities with a view to peace at the earliest practicable moment. In other words: The Union Platform looks to the ending of the war through the defeat and overthrow of the Rebellion, while the Democratic contemplates peace through the virtual triumph of the traitors.
The Union Platform regards Slavery as the inciting, guilty cause of the Rebellion, and demands the suppression of that cause in the interest of justice and the National safety. The Democratic is silent in terms as to Slavery, but manifestly contemplates its perpetuation and fortification under the restored Union it longs for.
On November 8th, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. Lincoln carried 22 states with 212 electoral votes while McClellan won three states to claim 21 electoral votes. The Confederate States did not participate in the Election.
The popular vote was much closer, although still in favor of Lincoln; who garnered 55% of the national vote. The three states won by McClellan were New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky; all states relatively closed to the South. Lincoln barely won in Pennsylvania. With the long Mason-Dixon Line border with the South, many Pennsylvania counties on this line, such as York County, were eager to end the war with their neighbors; and thus supported McClellan’s peace at-any-cost platform.
Andrew Johnson of Tennessee was elected the new Vice President on Lincoln’s ticket; thus replacing Hannibal Hamlin, who was Vice President during Lincoln’s first term. Lincoln and Johnson were sworn in on March 4th, 1865.
A month after President Lincoln’s second inauguration, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9th 1865. The Union has been maintained! Five-days later President Lincoln is shot and dies the following day. Vice-President Andrew Johnson, a Southerner and former slaveholder, is sworn in as the next President of the United States of America.