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tv   Lectures in History 1864 Presidential Election  CSPAN  April 25, 2021 12:05am-1:26am EDT

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>> our lectures in history. christopher newport university professor jonathan white teaches a class about the 1864 presidential election pitting incumbent abraham lincoln against his former top general, democrat george mcclellan. with casualties mountain and union army stalemated in the field, professor white says by august 1860 four, lincoln was unpopular with the electorate, leaving the commander-in-chief convinced he would lose. at a democratic platform
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conciliatory to the confederates, viewed by many as traitorous, coupled with the fall of atlanta to union forces, helped propel lincoln to a landslide victory. professor white: good morning, everyone. today we will talk about the election of 1864. i have put on the screen for ballots from that election. i want you to look at these ballots and think about what you see. what do these ballots look like, how they different from ballots that we use today. any ideas? >> there were a lot of patriotic symbols. also, with the candidates they have which state that they are from. our presidential ballots don't have them. professor white: there are a lot of patriotic symbols. they list the state where the candidates are from. the constitution makes it so that you can't have a presidential candidate in a vice
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presidential candidate from the same state. in case you weren't sure they make sure you know george mcclellan, the democrat is from new georgie -- new jersey. the vice presidential candidate is from ohio. what else do you see on these ballots? >> on the top they have that banner where it's like, today they are very systematic, just like the bubble in the name. for computer reasons that they put through the scanner today. professor white: that's right. one is, there is a banner at the top. it tells you the state in the ticket. i want to focus on that in particular. jeremiah mentioned that today when we fill out ballots there are bubbles on them. why are there bubbles on the ballots? why do we fill out those bubbles, and how might that point to something different about these ballots? go ahead. >> especially for presidential elections, they would have candidates from multiple parties.
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this looks like it's just listing the republican candidates for president of the union, so there is no bubble. professor white: that's exactly right. today, when we go to vote, i imagine we all voted last year, when you go to vote you got a ballot. that was provided to you by the local government. if you voted in newport news, you went to a local public school and picked up your ballot. it's a big piece of paper, probably eight and a half by 11. it lists all the candidates of all the parties. that ballot is printed by or ordered by the local government, and it's given to you with all the candidates, and you choose who you are going to vote for. elections in the 19th century were very different. in the 19th century it was actually the political parties that printed the ballot. when you wanted to vote you would go to the polling place, you would find an operative from your political party. if you are republican you find
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the republicans, if you are a democrat you find the democrats and you would get a ballot from your party operatives. and then he would take that ballot and it only lists the candidates of your party. you take that ballot and that's what you used to go vote with. and now, several of you pointed out the symbols in the banners that you see on these. very different from the ballots that we use today. because they were printed by the parties, the parties wanted to highlight certain aspects of who they were as a party or what they stood for. these are four different ballots from four different parts of the country. the two on the writer from ohio, the one on the left is from michigan, and this one says montgomery county. i did not look up which montgomery county, could be pennsylvania or another state. you will notice that they all are different. in fact, this one is written in german. you guys might have noticed that. what they are doing is printing their own ballots that are then going to be very recognizable to
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people who are going to vote. so if you go pick up a ballot, and might be pink, blue or yellow. it might have a big eagle or shield, or even the face of a candidate. and you then walk through a crowd to vote. so you are carrying a very distinctively colored and imaged piece of paper that allows everyone around you to know exactly how you are voting. today in america we have what's called the australian ballot, the secret ballot. and when you vote, you don't have to tell anyone how you voted, it's your own private business. what in the 19th century, all of your neighbors got to see exactly how you were voting. and that gives people a lot of information. the parties love to know exactly how everyone votes, because it would give them a tremendous amount of information. in the 19th century there is a
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lot of pressure on people to vote a certain way. there is a lot of violence in elections. we will talk about that later on in the class. there is a lot of intimidation. let's imagine you are a young person working for someone and you want to vote one ticket but you know your boss wants you to vote the other ticket. your boss is going to see how you vote. you might decide, i believe in this particular party but i don't want to lose my job. i will vote the other way because i don't want my boss to see me during the other thing. i want you to see these ballots as we talked about the election of 1864. it's really important to realize how different the elections were. now when we vote, you go into -- at least when i voted in newport news the way it works is you get your ballot, you go to a table and that has sides on it so no one can see. you fill it out, you put in the
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ballot face down into the scanner and it reads what you have done. in those days not only did you get a distinctively colored ballot with symbols on it that you are walking through a crowd so everyone sees it, when you finally vote, you drop it into the ballot box. the ballot box is a glass bowl. from the moment you get your ballot to the moment you deposit it there is absolutely no secrecy. i actually brought in a couple of examples of ballots. i told you guys throughout the semester how i collect weird rings. i have a whole collection of ballots. this is one from maryland, it's for a congressional election. in this case they have an image of george washington at the top. a patriotic symbol that this candidate for congress wanted to be associated with. that i've got a couple ballots from the gubernatorial election of 1863 in pennsylvania. this is the democratic ticket and this is the union ticket. the democratic ticket is pretty
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ordinary. the thing i love about this one is someone after the election wrote copperhead ticket at the top in pencil. but this republican ticket is really beautiful. i have a couple of these in my collection. on the backside they have an american flag. so you might be able to see that they are. again, they want to put the symbols in the messages forward in the ballots that their voters are going to then be taking to the polls. here you can see no compromise with treason. in the mcclellan ballot he says the union must be preserved at all hazards. these are the messages that the parties want to put forward. i am going to show you this for a second. a couple of years ago there was a huge cache of these ballots from the election of 1864 that sold at auction. there were 260 or 270 that sold for $8,000. i wish i could have bought it but i did not know about the auction at the time.
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i'm going to take us back to the beginning of the election campaign season and we will work our way until november. there are a couple of reasons i wanted to spend a day on a class talking about treason and talking about the election of 1864. this is the first election that happens when the nation is at war and in the middle of a gigantic civil war. in one of the most remarkable aspects of this election is that it happened at all. democrats thought that lincoln might cancel the election and he had no intention of doing that. you might recall when we let -- read lincoln's message to congress on july 4 of 1861, he said it's a people's contest and he was fighting to show that democracy could prevail. from lincoln's perspective he can't cancel the election. so it's going to move forward. lincoln is the republican incumbent, but there were a lot of members of his party, the republican party, who were very dissatisfied with lincoln.
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they were known as radical republicans, if we were to use modern harlots they would be to the left of lincoln. from their perspective he was not radical enough. he was not pushing for african-american rights enough. he had not pushed for emancipation enough. he seemed like he would be too lenient on the confederates. and so radical republicans began pushing to try to dump lincoln from the ticket and replace him. in fact, one of the most prominent radicals to try to do this was lincoln's own secretary of the treasury. and this is a cartoon that i absolutely love. it shows lincoln a sleep in his bed, there he is in the white house asleep, you have all these radical republican operatives measuring his shoes, trying to figure out, who can we put in to take lincoln's spot. they tried very hard to get someone to replace him, but ultimately when the republican convention meets in baltimore in
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june of 1864, they renominate lincoln for president. you may recall from an earlier class that lincoln's vice president was a man from maine named hannibal hamlin. hannibal hamlin was seen as a little more radical than lincoln was. the republicans were worried that having two strong republicans on the ticket and might hurt them in the polls. so they decided at the convention to dump him and choose a man named andrew johnson of tennessee to be lincoln's new vice presidential running mate. andrew johnson was actually a democrat. he had never become a republican, but he was the only senator from the south to remain in -- or the only senator from a confederate state to remain in the u.s. senate. in lincoln had made him military governor of tennessee so he has seen as a loyal guy. but the republicans think and, if we bring in a war democrat on
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tower ticket, it will broaden our appeal to voters and we are more likely to win. i had you all read the republican platform from 1864. it's a long platform, there are about a dozen or four planks. but i want to focus on the first five. platforms were very important in the 19th century because they put out the message that the party wants the voters to know. this is what we stand for. in looking at the republican platform from 1864, what jumped out at you? what are republicans saying to voters that they believe in, that they stand for, or that they want to do? go ahead, jordan. jordan: the slavery of the cause and the strength of the rebellion and it's hostile to
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all forms of republican government. why do you suppose -- professor white: why do you suppose they single out slavery? it's hostile to republican government. and when say republican, we we mean smaller republican government. why do they want to make a big point about slavery, do you suppose? >> slavery was one of the big differences in one of the primary reasons that caused the south the -- to try to succeed -- secede. so if you are republican, isolating that difference in seeing it would be difficult to compromise on, solidifying their opposition as a party would probably be helpful. professor white: slavery is the cause of the war, slavery is the cause of the rebellion. we want to make sure we don't ever have war again, get rid of slavery.
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so lincoln on the republicans were going to try to amend the constitution, which we ultimately get as the 13th amendment, and that will forever end slavery and make it so we don't have civil war over this issue again. >> number two talks about how they are determined not to compromise with rebels. it could also be interpreted as we are not going to negotiate with traders. professor white: that will be a key point we come back to when we talk about the democratic platform. for the republicans, they will not compromise. they want what they call unconditional surrender. and that is going to be a very different approach from the democratic platform of 1864. and you may remember last week, a week or so ago we read that message that jefferson davis wrote to the confederate congress in february of 1864 where he is calling for the ability to suspend the writ of
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habeas corpus. and what does davis say. he said there are people from the south who want to compromise and let slavery go, but we are not willing to do that. the republicans understood that the confederates were not going to compromise on the slavery issue. they would have to be defeated on the battlefield. and they were exactly right on that. anything else in the republican platform that jumped out at you? >> in the first one they talk about laying aside all differences of political opinion , so they are showing that the union should come together whether or not they are democrat or republican. professor white: laying aside political differences. i call this the republican, than i put in parentheses and quote, union ticket. the republicans in 1864 dumped the name republican and ran on what they call the union ticket. so when you voted in that year you weren't technically voting republican, you were voting union.
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their idea is, we will try to broaden an appeal to anyone who wants to see the union restored, and we will make a war democrat our vice presidential candidate. after lincoln's assassinated they will regret having made johnson vice president, but in the moment in june of 1864 it seemed like a good idea. anything else in the republican platform? >> the fifth one, it talks about how they approved the measures which lincoln has taken to defend the nation. probably talking about getting rid of habeas corpus. professor white: they approve of the measures lincoln has taken. he has taken strict measures. he suspended the writ of habeas corpus is in issued emancipation proclamation. they want to come out and publicly say, we support our president, support our president and what he has done to try to win the war. anything else on the platform? this is june of 1864. the war is really important for
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understanding how the election is going to turn out. the summer of 1864 was actually a very bad time for the union. robert e lee, the confederate general, and ulysses s grant, the union general, are hammering each other in virginia. in many of you are probably from this area of virginia. starting around fredericksburg they push down to petersburg in the spring and summer of 1864. this is a very bloody time of the war. this is known as the overland campaign. the union army loses some 50,000 to 60,000 men during a time frame of a month. these casualties this to six are almost unfounded -- these casualties statistics are almost unfathomable. usually there would have been a break in the fighting in a month or two later they would fight again. but what grant does is he keeps pushing forward, forward and forward.
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fighting a battle, losing, fighting again the next day. ultimately grant get stuck at petersburg and he lays siege to lee's army. and with all of these casualties, and with all of this death, the northern public begins to become very wary. in lincoln starts to wonder if maybe he won't be reelected. because if the union can't win victories, if the union can't capture richmond or atlanta, then people will think, what are we fighting for, we can't win this thing. i want to show you a couple of cartoons that capture the northern image, at least the northern democratic image of lincoln at this time. in this image on the left you have lincoln looking like a tyrant. he's got a dagger, yankee liberty and eve got the goddess columbia representing the nation, trying to restrain him
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and his rampage. on the right you have lincoln looking like a dunce, like he is in control. not only that, you have casualties in the background and he's trampling on the constitution. whereas the republicans, as kaylee pointed out, are praising lincoln, there are a lot of democrats who are saying lincoln is a tyrant. there is another one showing lincoln as a phoenix rising out of the ashes of things that are sacred to americans. the united states constitution, free press, states rights, habeas corpus, public credit. in this time in the summer of 1864, lincoln is really unpopular with the voters, and he becomes convinced that he is going to lose the election. and i always think it's helpful for us today and 2021 to look at images like this because we often think about lincoln as the marvel man in washington, d.c. this larger-than-life statue,
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our greatest president, and we forget how unpopular he was at different times in his presidency. the summer of 1864 being one of his lowest points. there's another cartoon, columbia demands her children. here again you have the goddess columbia or liberty saying, mr. lincoln, give me back my 500,000 suns. all these men who have died on the battlefield. in this cartoon lincoln says something he said a lot. the fact is, by the way, that reminds me of a story. a lot of times when people came to lincoln he would say, that reminds me of a story and then he would tell them a funny story. this shows lincoln as an unserious person. as someone who does not grasp what's going on in the war. i august of 1864, lincoln is convinced that he's going to lose. the democrats believed that lincoln might cancel the election, but there is some really strong evidence that he
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never intended to do that. in one of the pieces of evidence is this document. this is known as the blind memorandum. the reason it's known as the blind memorandum is lincoln took a piece of paper, wrote this out, and then he folded it up and sealed it, and he had his cabinet sign it. they did not know what they were signing. let's look at what it says. this morning, as for some days pass, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected. then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president elect as to save the union between the election and the inauguration, as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards. and then he signed it a, lincoln. here's what lincoln is saying. the democrats have not yet had their convention. he does not know who the
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democratic nominee will be, though he pretty much has a hunch it will be george mcclellan, a union general. lincoln saying it so clear that i am going to lose the selection , that i'm going to have to work with the president elect, whoever that may be, to save the nation between november 8, when the election is held, and march 4, 18 65 at the next inauguration. he says, because whatever happens after the inauguration, the new president is not going to be able to save the country. so i've gotta sacrifice my pride and work with the person who defeated me in order to save the union. he has his whole cabinet sign this and they don't know what they are signing, but he's essentially getting them to pledge to work with him and to work with their political enemy. around this same time, lincoln calls frederick douglass, the great abolitionist, to come to the white house to have a
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meeting. in lincoln says to him, douglas, i hate slavery as much as you do, and i want to see it abolished altogether. and he says to frederick douglass, i issued the emancipation proclamation and i thought the slaves would flee to union lines and come over and gain freedom, and they are not doing that as quickly as i hoped they would. and he says to douglas that, by the time the election is over and there is a new democrat in the white house, he will repeal the emancipation proclamation and slaves will lose their chance. and so he says to douglas, we've got to come up with a plan to free as many slaves as possible before i'm out of office. and they actually think about john brown, who we talked about two or three weeks ago, how john brown wanted to take an army into the south and free the slaves. and they come up with a plan modeled after john brown where they will take what douglass
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called a band of scouts into the south and basically tell the slaves, run away now, get to the north now while they're still a republican in office. fortunately nothing had become of this plan or lincoln's blind memorandum because things would take a turn for the better in about one week after douglas's meeting. but douglas later wrote about this. he said this. what lincoln said on this day showed a deeper moral conviction against slavery than i had ever seen before in anything spoken or written by him. in this meeting with lincoln really gave douglas an intense appreciation for lincoln as an antislavery president. the democrats had planned to hold their convention in the early summer of 1864, but they saw how bad things were going that they thought, let's postpone it so we can wait and see how bad things get, then we
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will nominate our candidates and we will still leave ourselves enough time to campaign. so they were supposed to me in the beginning of the summer but they postponed to the end of august. and then they meet in chicago in 1864 and this is the image showing you the crowds were lining up to go inside of what was known as the wigwam. lincoln was also nominated in chicago in a wigwam in 1860, 4 years earlier. this is a different one than where lincoln was nominated. these other crowds going in, here's the crowd inside the chicago wigwam, where they will nominate george mcclellan for president. a couple weeks ago we talked about the ohio democrat who had been sent to the south and then escaped to canada. right before the democratic convention, he sneaks back into the united states, and he is a very powerful presence at this
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nominating convention. in fact, he will have a very strong voice in the writing of the democratic platform that you read for today. the democrats nominate george mcclellan for president. george mcclellan had been a union general early in the war. he was very popular among the soldiers. he was a pro-war democrat, but he was also proslavery. they wanted to balance their ticket by putting a vice presidential candidate on who is a piece democrat. right before spring break we read the debate between lincoln and the new york democrats and lincoln and the ohio democrats over the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. george pendleton, the man on the right, was one of the signatories on the letter that you read. he's an ohio piece democrat. and what the democrats thought was, like the republicans we can have a broad appeal, we will have a war democrat as our
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presidential candidate. we will have a piece democrat as our vice presidential candidate and have a broad appeal that way. but the thing that really hurt the democrats that year was their platform. so if you take out the democratic platform that you read for today, i want us to focus mainly on the first four planks of this platform. what jumped out at you and the message that the democrats put forward? keep in mind, as you think about this, this is august of 1864, they are feeling really confident that they are going to win this election at the same time that lincoln is lacking confidence in the election. daniel: number four talks about how you serve state powers and states with insurrection. professor whyte: they are keen on protecting the rights of the states. jeremiah: in the first one they said they waited here to the
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union under the constitution, but in the second one they referred back saying if the states don't like what the union is doing, they still have the power to secede. professor white: let's look at these in turn. the first one resolved, that in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the union and constitution as only the solid foundation of our strength, security and happiness as a people. that's the framework that they want. they say, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the states both northern and southern. let's pause on that. what do you see in that opening plank? what are some of the messages they are getting across? >> i was not sure if they were saying that the union and the constitution are currently equally conducive, because even the circumstances, the south really seems to think it's not
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conducive. professor white: i think you are right. they see the union and constitution as conducive to. so the democrats had a slogan that said the constitution as it is in the union as it was. in other words, they believe that the constitution was good enough for the american people to live under, and part of the constitution as it is means the constitution with slavery. that's why they say it's good enough for the north and the south. the south, if we are elected you can keep slavery. in the second one that jeremiah pointed us to. this convention does explicitly declare as a sense of the american people, that after four years of failure to restore the union by the experiment of war, during which under the pretense of military necessity or war power, higher than the
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constitution, the constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right like trodden down. in the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired. justice, humanity, liberty and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts behave for hostilities with a view of the alternate convention of the states to bring about peace. what are they talking about in this one? what do you see? >> where they say after four years of failure to support the union by experiment of the war, it sounds like they are focusing on the mishaps that are going on in the war, especially for the union and calling it an experiment of war is referring to them playing with the lives of soldiers. professor white: that idea of that cartoon where lincoln does not seem to be taking things seriously. >> there convention of the
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states it sounds like they want to rewrite the constitution to put more in it. professor white: they may be open to that. they want the convention of the states to negotiate peace. but maybe they will offer something to the south of better protection for slavery. that could very well happen. >> it looks like they are completely ready to surrender instead of -- especially how close they are to richmond. professor white: you know how lincoln predicted in the blind memo that whoever president is they cannot save the union. lincoln is not a prophet and he does not know what the democrats will write, but he has a hunch. he's making it clear how he feels about can the union win. >> the war power higher than the constitution and if sarcastic way.
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they talk about how they are going against what happened in the fifth resolution by the republicans saying they only praise lincoln for what he did and how they kept the border state. they are saying we are 100% against this and he abused his power. professor white: i want to build on this point. the republicans are very critical of the rebellion. they have a lot to say about the people of civil war and the people of the rebellion. what do the democrats have to say about the rebellion? >> eli said in the third resolution and talks about a shameful violation of the constitution, and they talk about holding a revolutionary to resist this power that lincoln is using. professor white: they are more upset with linkedin, they are in a political opposition. they are not going to praise lincoln, but notice that they have harsher words for lincoln, much harsher words, and really
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nothing criticizing the confederacy. when i read through this, i don't really see any criticism of the confederacy of who is up in arms. i see in olive branch appeal, let's get together and have a convention of the states and try to negotiate peace and bring it back to the union, but the democrats don't understand that the confederates aren't going to compromise. they don't want to compromise, they don't want to come back into the union, they want to be their own proslavery republic. so i think there is -- on the part of the democrats. also a sense that they see a connection between themselves and the confederates, whereas the republican see the confederates as the enemy. to the points that jeremiah and kim pointed out about the secession and resolution. when they talk about revolution they are saying, if lincoln keeps violating our rights, we have a right of russell -- a
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right of revolution. we have a right to overthrow lincoln's administration. because the democrats had nothing bad to say about the confederates, rumor started spreading in the newspapers that the confederates had written this platform for them. in fact, the new york times said the convention was made up entirely of "black hearted traders." this treason issue will be central to this election. this is a cartoon that shows mcclellan in 1862 or chose soldiers singing about mcclellan called mcclellan is our man, a favorite song of the army of the potomac. george mcclellan had been very popular among the soldiers in 1862 when he had been there general. but now in 1864, things have changed. now mcclellan is tied to a peace
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democrat or copperhead. you can see in this political cartoon there is a ban holding them together that says party type. on the one hand you have him trying to say to these two union soldiers, i'm still the same guy you loved. while the copperhead is talking to him and the governor of new york saying, it's ok to vote for this ticket because we are really a peace democrat ticket in platform. in this division between the democratic party is going to really hinder them in the election. the other thing that really hinders them in the election is that union general captures atlanta at the very beginning of september of 1864. and now the war no longer looks like a failure. four days earlier the democrats have said, after four years of
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failure, we need to negotiate with the south. that's no longer a viable position. and from the fall of atlanta in september of 1864 and a couple of union victories in september and october, it becomes pretty clear that lincoln will win reelection. by october of 18 624 most republicans have a lot of confidence that lincoln will win. all this was going on there was one other ticket in the field. i mentioned at the very beginning of the lecture that some radical republicans had tried to get rid of lincoln as the republican ticket, republican nominee for president. there actually was in cleveland what was called a radical democracy convention and they nominated this guy john c fremont. we encountered him before in this classroom when we talked about missouri in 1861 in the missouri warfare. -- and the guerrilla warfare. they nominate him on their own
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ticket to try to get him to be the president of the united states. fremont is on the ticket, running in as a candidate for may of 1864 until early september. and finally in early september some people negotiate with him and are able to convince him to drop out of the race. so that by the beginning of september of 1864, it will be two candidates, lincoln against mcclellan and it looks pretty good for lincoln. i want to show you some cartoons, some political cartoons from this campaign. this is a course on treason. you will see how treason comes out in a lot of these images. this one is called compromise with the south, and you will notice at the bottom, dedicated to the chicago convention. so we are dedicating this image to the democrats. and you've got a wounded union soldier who has lost his right leg, is on a crutch, he and the goddess of liberty are kneeling
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over the grave that is in the memory of union heroes and a useless war. this war is a failure, if the democrats see it as a failure and it's a useless war. they are bowing down to jefferson davis, the confederate president. republicans want to depict the democrats as being subservient to the traders of the south. the republicans are gonna make a lot of hay out of this democratic platform and also the division of the democratic ticket before the pro-war democrat and anti-democrat. you have mcclellan is two-faced and one side of his face he's talking about war and the other side's standing face. -- peace in the on the other cited is a rickety platform. we talked about a performer we talked about benedict arnold. it is a very strong image when you look at cartoons about treason.
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the devil in jefferson davis and another new york democrat are holding up the democratic platform. the republicans are going to depict the democrats as weak. a week peace source pulling the chicago platform. here you have a lot of devils. treason and devils are very prominent in this election campaign. you've got mcclellan, whose bowing down before jefferson davis, is being written on his back by a devil. there are devils throughout the sky. you can see the devils being driven away at the top right. at the top left, the different devils and symbols representing democratic newspapers who are seen as traitorous. mcclellan's crafty policy with the traitorous chicago platform.
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i will go through these fairly quickly. we've got lots of devils in these cartoons. these images represent democratic newspapers. another cartoon of mcclellan, you've got death, oppression, states rights, cowardice and devils looming in the background over the man they are going to control. this cartoon gives voters a very clear choice. if you are trying cross the opus of war, who do you want to lead you? do you want lincoln to lead you across the union plank all of one piece, or do you want the democrats with mcclellan to lead you across a divided plank? it's a clear choice for voters. this one i love, you've got
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mcclellan and pendleton looking like circus performers. george pendleton has a piece still. often today we talk about races as a horse race we talked about campaigns. that was a theme you see in 1864. he is being pulled by a strong, white warhorse. colin is being pulled by a piece horse. who will you want pulling you. we have pendleton writing a piece donkey. you've got mcclellan who is split between peace and war. i wrote a book in 2014 about the election of 1864. in most of my book focused on what soldiers thought of lincoln
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and what soldiers thought of emancipation. and i looked at a lot of soldiers who were anti-lincoln, who spoke out against lincoln and got punished and court-martialed for speaking out. one of the things i did in this book is look at the history of absentee voting in america. the first large-scale instance of what we today called absentee voting were voting by mail to place in 1864. some of you may have voted absentee last november. during the war of 1812, two states, pennsylvania and new jersey passed laws that enabled soldiers to vote when they were away during the war. perp of pennsylvania lot remained on the books. by 1861, there is only one state that allows soldiers to vote, and that's pennsylvania. there were state elections that were held in pennsylvania
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soldiers voted as far away as virginia. the problem with elections as that was a tremendous amount of fraud. one regiment had 900 votes cast for one candidate, even though there were fewer than 100 men in the regiment who were from another city where that candidate was from. so there was a lot of fraud. in may of 1860 two the pennsylvania supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional to allow soldiers to vote away from home. in the fall of 1862 there were congressional elections and the democrats trounced the republicans. in lincoln and the republicans came to believe that the reason they lost is that democrats were at home still able to vote while republicans were dutifully serving in the army. for the next year and a half, republicans throughout the north are going to push for extending the right to vote.
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15 states passed laws that allow soldiers to vote in the field, in for states passed laws that allow soldiers to mail their ballots home, what today we would call mail-in voting. by the time of the election of 1864, 19 northern states have done something really new in american politics, and that is allow men to vote when they aren't home for the day of the election. now republicans made the case that soldiers of all people deserve the right to vote because they are sacrificing their lives on the battlefield. they are risking their lives. democrats countered these arguments by saying if we allow soldiers to vote there will be a lot of fraud and intimidation in the elections. and this is a cartoon that captures a lot of the racism of the democratic party at that
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time, and also their message for why they opposed allowing soldiers to vote. here you have a democratic soldier who has lost his leg in the battlefield, he's wanting to cast his mcclellan ballot and you have a caricature of an african-american soldier coming up. he has a canteen full of whiskey and is going to stop the democratic soldier. so democrats oppose allowing soldiers to vote because they say there will be fraud and coercion. ultimately they have what are seen as unpatriotic arguments. how can you oppose allowing soldiers to vote? so they lose that debate and most of the states. the elections in the field could be vigorously debated. and i will talk about it more in a little bit, but i wanted to show you images of what it
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looked like when soldiers voted in the field. they had to improvise because they did not have the full trappings of the parties at home. so they might set up a table and collect the ballots there where they might do it in the back of a wagon as they are doing in this case collecting the ballots there. sometimes they would have to do it on whiskey barrels. they are collecting the ballots there. they did not have physically real printed ballot so they would handwrite their full-length. i want to talk about some of the more controversial and unseemly aspects of 1864. i am going to take us back in time to earlier in the year, but i want us to have these things together. i will start us off in the border states. we talked a lot in this class about how incredibly horrible things were in a lot of the border regions of the civil war. there was a lot of people,
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guerrilla fighting, burning of people's homes and property, that sort of thing. in the summer of 1864, lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in kentucky. this is somewhat controversial because kentucky is a loyal state. lincoln put in his sub -- suspension order that this was not to interfere with any elections in kentucky. but the union general decided, i know what lincoln said and this is supposed to interfere with elections, but i think it's important that it does. so three days before a state election in july or august of 1864, general 4 -- general burbridge ordered that the name of it democratic candidate for judge be stricken from the ballots. imagine if that were to take place today. someone in authority would say, we think someone is disloyal and
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a traitor, so he can't be voted for. three days before an election is exactly what he did. somehow the democrats of kentucky got their act together. they found another candidate. within three days they telegraphed his name across the state and he ended up winning the election. but judged evolved fled kentucky because burbridge had wanted to arrest him. he actually made his way up to canada where he made his way out in general burbridge actually arrested the lieutenant governor of kentucky and the chief justice of the state supreme court, as well as other people. when you saw on the democratic platform when they are complaining about interference of elections and they mention kentucky, this is one of the things they have in mind. you can understand why the democrats are upset and say, this may require a revolutionary response. in may of 1864, there was something that sometimes known as the great civil war goalpost. and this took place in new york city.
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there were two journalists, one was named joseph howard, this is howard here. in these two journalists had a plan. they wanted to make a lot of money. so this is the plan that they came up with. we are going to buy up go. we are then going to cause a public panic so that the american people lose confidence in the government, gold prices will skyrocket and then we will sell the go and we will make it -- we will make a mint. so joseph howard and the other journalist, the way they decided to do this was their going to write a bogus draft proclamation and sign it with abraham lincoln's name. and they say, abraham lincoln is calling for 400,000 men to be drafted. now remember, this is may of 1864, this is when the war is reaching a low point. public confidence is already low. if lincoln is going to call for these soldiers, it's going to
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make people lose heart. and so howard and the other journalists write this bogus proclamation. they go to the associated press, which was new back then. they go to the associated press at 4:00 in the morning and give them this bogus draft proclamation in the associated press spreads it to the other new york newspapers. now most of the new york newspapers thought, this looks a little fishy, we are not going to run this draft proclamation until we know for sure that it's authentic. but to new york newspapers, the world, which i have depicted here, this is the editor of the world, and another new york paper, democratic paper called the journal of commerce, they both run it. this bogus draft proclamation runs may 18, 1864, and lincoln is as angry as he probably has ever been in his life. lincoln had actually been writing a draft proclamation,
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and he thought someone in the white house had leaked it. and he issued an order to the union general in new york named john dix. you are not going to be able to read that, so i will read a little bit of what lincoln wrote. you can hear the language of treason. his secretary of war call this a treasonable forgery and this is what lincoln said. whereas there has been wickedly and traitor sleep printed and published this morning in the new york world and the new york journal of commerce, a false and spurious proclamation purporting to be signed by the president and to be countersigned by the secretary of state, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give tan and comfort to the enemies of the united states, into the rebels at war with the government and to the aiders and the bettors. you, general dick sargent there for hereby commanded forth with to arrest and imprison any
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military prison in your command, the editors, proprietors and publishers of the papers. and then he goes on to say they should be tried in a military court, a military tribunal. this was the only time in his entire -- there were about 120 five newspapers that were shut down during the civil war, sometimes by mobs, sometimes by soldiers, this was the only time that lincoln personally ordered the shutting down of a newspaper. and they were democratic newspapers, they were the political opposition, but he was convinced they were engaged in treason. general dix was a little unsure this was the right thing to do and he hesitated and did not arrest the editors at first, but he did send soldiers in and they shut down the newspapers, and they investigated and eventually figured out it was joseph howard and this other guy. so those two journalists got arrested. but this gives you a sense of
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how the high decibel level of politics in the election of 1864. matt marble was really upset that the governor did not protect him and his property. the governor wanted to let this thing play out in court. in matt marble wrote a private letter to another new york democrat. he said this. governor seymour should have ordered the state militia to eject the trespassers and restore to us our offices and protect us and the pursuit of our lawful business. the governor should have protected us. federal troops are occupying our newspaper offices, the governor should send in-state troops to stop them. and to another new york democrat he said that seymour had missed the opportunity to interpose the arm and shield of the state of new york between mr. lincoln and
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the oppressed within the circumference of the state. is that language sound familiar to anyone? that the governor should have interposed the arm and shield of the state of new york. where have we heard that before? >> the interposition from the virginia kentucky resolutions. professor white: that's right. james madison comes up with this theory of interposition that if the federal government takes away the rights of the state citizen, this state should interpose itself between the federal power in the citizen and protect the right of the citizen. here is a new york editor calling for the governor, or privately wishing that the governor had done that. in the autumn of 1864 there was something that made sensational headlines. and that was, there were believed to be secret societies
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hidden throughout the north. mostly in the midwest, but also in places like central pennsylvania. they went by different names like the knights of the golden circle or the order of american knights or the sons of liberty, and these secret societies were suspected of wanting to overthrow the union from within.
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