Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lincoln vs McClellan

Attack ads, smear campaigns, dire predictions of the destruction of the county.  Are we talking about mid-term election of November 2014?  Nope, we are talking about the presidential election of 1864.  While today we are in the process of decompressing from the mid-term elections held earlier this week, 150 years ago today Americans (okay white males) where heading to the polls to vote for the next president.  At stake was the very future of the United States, would Americans support the continuation of the Civil War to end slavery and restore the union as championed by Republican President Abraham Lincoln? Or would they vote for the Democratic candidate George B. McClellan who favored peace at any cost by letting the Confederacy become an independent country at the expense of the freedom of four million slaves?  The election was perfectly illustrated in the political cartoon reproduced below.

(Image courtesy of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site)

I don't think there has ever been an presidential election with so much at stake for the future of the country.  It was a tough and ugly campaign and due to political and military set backs even Lincoln at times doubted that he would win a second term.  For the first time, soldiers were allowed to vote in the field, and those whose states demanded that they had to return to there homes where actually granted furloughs by their commanders to return home to vote.  But timely military victories and the loyalty of the Union soldiers Lincoln won a resounding victory.  Now secure, Lincoln's goals for the country could be completed and the bloody Civil War was now in its last final months.  But much bloodshed was still to come.


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