It was surprising that Abraham Lincoln won the presidency in 1860, given that his surname did no even appear on the ballot in southern states. That he winner again in 1864, appeared nothing quick of a miracle.

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The Ford’s Theatre Museum today features a section on the political problem of 1864 and also that year’s presidential election. The exhibition defines how Lincoln himself believed his loss was imminent. In fact, on respectable 23, the asked his cabinet to authorize a letter, sight unseen, to market their unwavering loyalty and also commitment come the conservation of the Union, nevertheless of the election’s outcome.

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Lincoln arts by Wayne Brezinka.

Lincoln’s pessimism was well-founded. Year of grueling war with no foreseeable end, his transforming policies top top slavery and his bold use of executive power all threatened his popularity. He wondered about the Republican Party would even nominate him.

His opponents likewise constantly expressed your concerns about Lincoln continuing to be in power. Provided that his very first term witnessed the secession of seven states within mere month of his election and also that anti-Lincoln sentiment thrived in both the North and also South together the war dragged on, one have the right to understand Lincoln’s pessimism.

Despite all of this antagonism, Lincoln winner the party nomination.This tho did no make him confident in victory.

The autonomous Party chose the previous head that the army of the Potomac, general George McClellan, as its candidate. Irritable by the General’s passivity and failure to go after Robert E. Lee, Lincoln removed McClellan native his armed forces position in November 1862. As a result, the two continued to be bitter enemies.

Lincoln and McClellan was standing for really different ideas. Lincoln’s re-election supposed a continuation of the war to finish slavery and save the Union, whereas the autonomous Party’s platform referred to as for instant peace—even if it supposed the perpetuation that slavery. Back McClellan declared that he would never abandon the Union’s fight, many soldiers in particular were ambivalent around voting for a male who had actually no confidence in his army and whose campaign rhetoric conflicted v his party’s platform.

Yet Lincoln still felt apprehensive. He was not particularly popular and could not count top top the soldiers’ loyalty to ensure his success without far-ranging military victories. The asked Frederick Douglass to draft a setup to help as plenty of slaves escape as feasible before the November election, in situation he lost and also could no much longer enforce emancipation policies.

Lincoln and also McClellan both canvassed aggressively, printing various campaign posters and flags to try and achieve support.

Despite the odds against him, Lincoln winner in a landslide. He took every state other than for Kentucky, brand-new Jersey and also Delaware. He obtained 55% the the renowned vote and also 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21. A large portion the the Union soldiers voted for Lincoln together well, showing their willingness to keep fighting and also refusal to accept defeat.

Lincoln’s success not only showed the public’s trust in Lincoln—a impressive feat considering just how many people truly disliked him—but likewise resulted from a change in the army situation. Previously, Union troops had actually struggled top top the battlefields and also remained deadlocked with the Confederates. But in the months prior to the 1864 election, the tides turned. Many notablyGeneral wilhelm T. Sherman captured Atlanta in September and also severely crippled the Confederacy’s capability to do war.

Lincoln’s1864 success is significant for many reasons. That an unhindered election even developed during a time of nationwide emergency emphasize the stamin of the American democracy. Lincoln even declared in November 1864, “We can not have free government without elections; and also if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a nationwide election that might reasonably claim come have currently conquered and also ruined us.”

Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address, given a month prior to Robert E. Lee’s surrender and Lincoln’s own assassination, available words of reconciliation and also hope because that the future. Although difficult to guess: v what might have happened if Lincoln shed the election, his win allowed the fight to maintain the Union come continue.

For much more information ~ above the 1864 election, review the nationwide Park Service’s articles, “Lincoln, Grant, and also the 1864 Election” and The choice of 1864, or the Library that Congress’ page about the election.

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Anna Snyder is the Digital Public background Intern at Ford’s Theatre. She is a first-year graduate college student in American University’s Public History program.