1864

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1864

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1864

Election Day Date: November 8, 1864

Winning Ticket: Winning Ticket: Abraham Lincoln (55, Christian), Andrew Johnson (56, Christian), Republican, 2,211,317, 55.03% 212 91.0%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • George McClellan (38, Presbyterian), George Pendleton (39), Democratic, 1,806,227, 44.95%, 21 9.0%
  • Other (+) – – 658 0.02% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout: 73.8%

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:

First time states permitted soldiers in the field to vote in an election

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Abraham Lincoln, Hannibal Hamlin, Union 1861-1864 (1865)

Population: 1864: 34,376,000 (Does not take into account the 11 states that seceded from the Union in 1861)

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $9.46 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $102.33
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 9.24 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $275 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $2,977

Number of Daily Newspapers: 387 (1860)

Average Daily Circulation: 1,478,435 (1860)

Method of Choosing Electors: Popular Vote (most General Ticket System)

Nevada joined the Union only a few days prior to Election Day and appointed electors

Method of Choosing Nominees:

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries): Radical Republicans wanted Constitutional amendments to prohibit slavery and grant blacks legal equality

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

National Union Party candidate:

  • Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States (Illinois)

Democratic Party candidates:

  • George B. McClellan, Army major general (New Jersey)
  • Thomas H. Seymour, former U.S. representative (Connecticut)

Third Party Candidates and Nominations: 

Radical Republican Party candidate:

  • John C. Frémont, former U.S. senator (California)

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):

  • The Democratic Party divided over the war and slavery into different factions: War Democrats; Peace Democrats; Moderate Peace Democrats; Radical Peace Democrats (Copperheads)
  • Pro-war General George B. McClellan for president, anti-war Representative George H. Pendleton, for vice president

Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):

  • War Democrats and Republicans joined and formed the National Union Party

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Charles Sumner; Henry Wilson; Ulysses S. Grant; Salmon Chase; Benjamin Wade; Horace Greeley; Clement Vallandigham; Henry Winter Davis, Ben Wade

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Radical Republicans split from the Republican Party, formed their own party, convened their own convention 

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • The Radical Republican National Convention, May 29, 1864, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Union National Convention, June 7-8, 1864, Front Street Theatre, 1st ballot,  Abraham Lincoln (Illinois), Andrew Johnson (Tennessee)
  • Democratic National Convention, August 29-31, 1864, The Amphitheatre, Chicago, Horatio Seymour (New York), 1st ballot, George B. McClellan  (New Jersey), George H. Pendleton (Ohio)

Convention Turning Points:

National Union Party:

  • Republicans and war Democrats joined to form the “Nation Union” Party. They support Abraham Lincoln and his policies
  • All Northern states participated
  • Some Southern states sent delegates
  • Credentials committee ruled that all Southern states that sent delegates could be seated except South Carolina, they were all denied the right to vote
  • Final decision: Florida and Virginia were denied voting rights, South Carolina excluded from the convention
  • Only name beside Lincoln’s on the Presidential ballot was General Ulysses S. Grant
  • Lincoln allowed the delegates to choose the Vice Presidential candidate; Andrew Johnson won on the first ballot after Kentucky switched their support towards him

Democratic Party:

  • The Democratic Party divided over the war and slavery into different factions: War Democrats; Peace Democrats; Moderate Peace Democrats; Radical Peace Democrats (Copperheads)
  • Pro-war General George B. McClellan for president, anti-war Representative George H. Pendleton, for vice president

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

National Union Party nomination

Presidential Ballot

  • Lincoln nominated on the first ballot after shifts
  • Abraham Lincoln 494 516
  • Ulysses S. Grant 22 0
  • Not Voting 3 3

Vice Presidential Ballot

  • Andrew Johnson 200 492
  • Hannibal Hamlin 150 9
  • Daniel Dickinson 108 17
  • Benjamin Butler 28 0
  • Lovell Rousseau 21 0
  • Schuyler Colfax 6 0
  • Ambrose Burnside 2 0
  • Joseph Holt 2 0
  • Preston King 1 0
  • David Tod 1 1

Democratic Party

Presidential Ballot

1st ballot after shifts

  • George B. McClellan 174 202.5
  • Thomas H. Seymour 38 23.5
  • Horatio Seymour 12 0
  • Abstaining 1.5 0
  • Charles O’Conor 0.5 0

Vice Presidential Ballot

1st ballot after shifts

  • George H. Pendleton 55.5 226
  • James Guthrie 65.5 0
  • Lazarus W. Powell 32.5 0
  • George W. Cass 26 0
  • John D. Caton 16 0
  • Daniel W. Voorhees 13 0
  • Augustus C. Dodge 9 0
  • John S. Phelps 8 0
  • Abstaining 0.5 0

Radical Republican Party

  • President John C.  Frémont
  • Vice President John Cochrane

Party Platform/Issues:

  • National Union Party: War victory and unconditional surrender by the South;  ratification of a constitutional amendment to legally end slavery.
  • The Democratic Party: Peace plank to end the war written by Copperhead Clement Vallandigham; McClellan supported the continuation of the war and restoration of the Union

Major Personalities (General Election): Radical Peace Democrats (Copperheads) ; Thomas H. Seymour;

Campaign Tactics: political cartoons

  • Thomas Nast “The Chicago Platform” and “Compromise with the South”
  • Republicans published a pamphlet claiming that Peace Democrats and the Confederates made a secret agreement.

Turning Points (General Election):

  • The inconsistent political compromises made at the Democratic National Convention undermined McClellan’s campaign.
  • September 1864 Frémont withdrew from the campaign to better the chances of defeating  McClellan.
  • Clear military victories for the Union signaling the end of the war with a Union victory: General William Tecumseh Sherman marched towards Atlanta, Ulysses S. Grant pushed Confederate General Robert E. Lee into the outer defenses of Richmond.
  • October 1864, Joseph Holt the judge advocate general of the army wrote a report that claimed there were Confederate sympathizers in the North, reportedly their  societies were affiliated with the Democratic Party. 10,000 copies of the report was distributed.
  • Lincoln won more than 70 percent of the ballots cast by soldiers.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

  • Republican (Union Party): Abraham Lincoln: “Don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream”
  • “Abraham Lincoln/Andrew Johnson/ George Washington/ Porter, Farragut, Dahlgreen/Sherman, Grant, Sheridan/ The Defenders of our Union.”
  • “Lincoln and Johnson: Free.”
  • “Lincoln and Johnson Union Candidates: PEACE, AMNESTY, EMANCIPATION.”

Democratic:

  • “General McClellan: The Hero of Western Virginia! South Mountain! and Antietam!”
  • “Fidelity to the UNION under the CONSTITUTION as the ONLY solid foundation for our STRENGTH.”

Campaign Songs: “Abe Lincoln’s Union Wagon”: “Stick to the Wagon, the Great Union Wagon/The Triumphant Wagon, Abe Lincoln’s bound to ride.”

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

  • Democratic Party complains of  “four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war”

A typical Democratic barb:

“Honest Old Abe, when the war first began,

Denied abolition was part of his plan;

Honest old Abe has since made a decree,

The War must go on till the slaves all are free.

As both can’t be honest, will some one tell how,

If Honest Abe then, he is Honest Abe now?”

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “We cannot have free government without elections. If the rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.” Abraham Lincoln
  • I am very grateful for the renewed confidence which has been accorded to me, both by the convention and by the National [Union] League. I am not insensible at all to the personal compliment there is in this; yet I do not allow myself to believe that any but a small portion of it is to be appropriated as a personal compliment. The convention and the nation, I am assured, are alike animated by a higher view of the interests of the country for the present and the great future, and that part I am entitled to appropriate as a compliment is only that part which I may lay hold of as being the opinion of the convention and of the League, that I am not entirely unworthy to be instructed with the place I have occupied for the last three years. I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that ‘it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.” Abraham Lincoln, June 9, 1864

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “I could not look in the face my gallant comrades of the army and navy, who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that their labor and the sacrifice of so many of our slain and wounded brethren had been in vain.” George McClellan
  • “Union with Slavery.” John C.  Frémont on the Democratic Party platform

Campaign Quotes:

  • “Mr. Lincoln is already beaten. He cannot be elected.” Horace Greeley

Election Issues:

  • Only 24states participated, 11 seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America
  • Three new states participated for the first time: Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas.
  • The reconstructed portions of Tennessee and Louisiana elected presidential electors, although Congress did not count their votes.

Further Reading: 

  • Waugh, Jack. Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency (1998).

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • The campaign took place smoothly and peacefully during wartime.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • February 7, 1861: Confederate States of America forms consists of the lower Southern states from South Carolina to Texas. Jefferson Davis is elected president.
  • April 12, 1861: Confederate attack on Fort Sumter “last remaining federal station in the South” after Lincoln attempts to resupply it.
  • April 15, 1861: After the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln declares Civil War with the Southern states.
  • April 17, 1861: Virginia secedes from the union is followed by North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The “Four border slave states remain in the Union.”
  • April 19, 1861: “Lincoln orders a blockade of Confederate ports.”
  • May 6, 1861: “Arkansas secedes from the Union.”
  • May 20, 1861: “North Carolina secedes from the Union.”
  • May 21, 1861: Capital of the Confederacy moves to Richmond, Virginia.
  • June 8, 1861: “Tennessee secedes from the Union.”
  • July 21, 1861: Battle of Bull Run, Manassas, Virginia.
  • October 31, 1861: “General Winfield Scott retires as commander in chief of the Union army.”
  • November 1, 1861: Lincoln names George McClellan the commander of the Union army.
  • April 16, 1862: “Slavery is abolished in District of Columbia.”
  • August 29-30, 1862: The Second Battle of Bull Run.
  • September 17, 1862: The Battle of Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
  • September 22, 1862: Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • November 1862: Midterm elections the Republicans retain control of Congress, 39-12 in the Senate and 103-80 in the House.
  • December 13, 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, major Union defeat.
  • January 1, 1863: “The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.”
  • July 1-5, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg, turning point n the war, Confederacy from then on fights on the defensive.
  • November 19, 1863: Lincoln gives his Gettysburg Address
  • January 14, 1864: General Sherman begins his march to the South.
  • May 4, 1864: Ulysses S. Grant crosses the Rapidan? and begins to push Confederate General Robert E. Lee into the outer defenses of Richmond.
  • May 7-20, 1864: General Grant heads the Spotsylvania campaign.
  • May 31, 1864: Independent Republican Party Convention convenes and nominates John Charles Frémont for President.
  • May 29, 1864: The Radical Republican National Convention convenes in Cleveland, Ohio Radical Republicans want Constitutional amendments to prohibit slavery and grant blacks legal equality
  • June 7-8, 1864: Union National Convention convenes at Front Street Theatre, nominates on the 1st ballot Abraham Lincoln (Illinois) for President and Andrew Johnson (Tennessee) for Vice President.  Republicans and war Democrats unite together and form the “Nation Union” Party. They support Abraham Lincoln and his policies. All Northern states participate.
  • June 9, 1864: Abraham Lincoln accepts the Union Party’s nomination for President: “I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that ‘it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.”
  • June 18, 1864: Battle of Petersburg ends after 4 days
  • July 11, 1864: Gen J. Early and Confederate troops invade Washington, DC.
  • July 22, 1864: Battle of Atlanta
  • August 29-31, 1864: Democratic National Convention convenes at The Amphitheatre, Chicago, Horatio Seymour (New York) serves chairman. Pro-war General George B. McClellan (New Jersey) is nominated on the 1st ballot, anti-war Representative George H. Pendleton (Ohio) is nominated for Vice President. The Democratic Party divides over the war and slavery into different factions: War Democrats; Peace Democrats; Moderate Peace Democrats; Radical Peace Democrats (Copperheads) The inconsistent political compromises that is made at the Democratic National Convention undermines McClellan’s campaign.
  • May 7-September 2, 1864: Atlanta Campaign led by General William Tecumseh Sherman
  • September 1-2, 1864: General John Hood and Confederates evacuate from Atlanta, Georgia.
  • September 3, 1864: General William Tecumseh Sherman and Union forces occupy Atlanta.
  • September 1864: Frémont withdraws from the campaign to better the chances of defeating McClellan.
  • October 31, 1864: Nevada joins the Union only a few days prior to Election Day and appoints electors.
  • Union victories by Admiral Farragut in Alabama and General Sherman in Atlanta. November 8, 1864: Only 24states participate in the election, 11 seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Three new states participate for the first time: Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas. The reconstructed portions of Tennessee and Louisiana elect presidential electors, although Congress does not count their votes. Union Party, Abraham Lincoln is reelected President, Andrew Johnson is elected Vice President; Lincoln wins more than 70 percent of the ballots cast by soldiers.
  • November 15, 1864: General Sherman begins his march to the sea by leaving Union captured Atlanta, uses “total warfare.”
  • December 7, 1864: Presidential Electors cast their electoral votes in their states capitals.
  • February 8, 1865: Joint session of Congress in the U.S. House chamber count the electoral votes.
  • March 11, 1861: “Confederate Congress unanimously adopts the Confederate Constitution.”
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