LINCOLN, DOUGLAS AND BROWN
Abraham Lincoln had long regarded slavery as an evil. In a speech in Peoria, Illinois, in 1854, he declared that all national legislation should be framed on the principle that slavery was to be restricted and eventually abolished. He contended also that the principle of popular sovereignty was false, for slavery in the western territories was the concern not only of the local inhabitants but of the United States as a whole. This speech made him widely known throughout the growing West.
In 1858 Lincoln opposed Stephen A. Douglas for election to the U.S. Senate from Illinois. In the first paragraph of his opening campaign speech, on June 17, Lincoln struck the keynote of American history for the seven years to follow:
Lincoln and Douglas engaged in a series of seven debates in the ensuing months of 1858. Senator Douglas, known as the "Little Giant," had an enviable reputation as an orator, but he met his match in Lincoln, who eloquently challenged the concept of popular sovereignty as defined by Douglas and his allies. In the end, Douglas
won the election by a small margin, but Lincoln had achieved stature as a national figure.
Sectional strife was growing ever more acute. On the night of October 16, 1859, John Brown, an antislavery fanatic who had captured and killed five proslavery settlers in Kansas three years before, led a band of followers in an attack on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry in what is now the state of West Virginia. Brown's goal was to use the weapons seized to lead a slave uprising. After two days of fighting, Brown and his surviving men were taken prisoner by a force of U.S. marines commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee.
Alarm ran through the nation. For many Southerners, Brown's attempt confirmed their worst fears. Antislavery zealots, on the other hand, hailed Brown as a martyr to a great cause. Most Northerners repudiated his deed, seeing in it an assault on law and order. Brown was tried for conspiracy, treason and murder, and on December 2, 1859, he was hanged. To the end, he believed he had been an instrument in the hand of God.
In the presidential election of 1860 the Republican Party nominated Abraham Lincoln as its candidate. Party spirit soared as leaders declared that slavery could spread no farther. The party also promised a tariff for the protection of industry and pledged the enactment of a law granting free homesteads to settlers who would help in the opening of the West. The Democrats were not united. Southerners split from the party and nominated Vice President John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky for president. Stephen A. Douglas was the nominee of northern Democrats. Diehard Whigs from the border states, formed into the Constitutional Union Party, nominated John C. Bell of Tennessee.
Lincoln and Douglas competed in the North, and Breckenridge and Bell in the South. Lincoln won only 39 percent of the popular vote, but had a clear majority of 180 electoral votes, carrying all 18 free states. Bell won Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia; Breckenridge took the other slave states except for Missouri, which was won by Douglas. Despite his poor electoral showing, Douglas trailed only Lincoln in the popular vote.
Lincoln's election made South Carolina's secession from the Union a foregone conclusion. The state had long been waiting for an event that would unite the South against the antislavery forces. Once the election returns were certain, a special South Carolina convention declared "that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states under the name of the "United States of America' is hereby dissolved." By February 1, 1861, six more Southern states had seceded. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America. The remaining southern states as yet remained in the Union.
Less than a month later, on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he refused to recognize the secession, considering it "legally void." His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. But the South turned deaf ears, and on April 12, guns opened fire on the federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina, harbor. A war had begun in which more Americans would die than in any other conflict before or since.
In the seven states that had seceded, the people responded promptly to the appeal of the new president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. Both sides now tensely awaited the action of the slave states that thus far had remained loyal. In response to the shelling of Fort Sumter, Virginia seceded on April 17, and Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina followed quickly. No state left the Union with greater reluctance than Virginia. Her statesmen had a leading part in the winning of the Revolution and the framing of the Constitution, and she had provided the nation with five presidents. With Virginia went Colonel Robert E. Lee, who declined the command of the Union Army out of loyalty to his state. Between the enlarged Confederacy and the free-soil North lay the border states, of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri which, despite some sympathies with the South, remained loyal to the Union.
Each side entered the war with high hopes for an early victory. In material resources the North enjoyed a decided advantage. Twenty-three states with a population of 22 million were arrayed against 11 states inhabited by 9 million. The industrial superiority of the North exceeded even its preponderance in population, providing it with abundant facilities for manufacturing arms and ammunition, clothing and other supplies. Similarly, the network of railways in the North enhanced federal military prospects.
The South had certain advantages as well. The most important was geography; the South was fighting a defensive war on its own territory. The South also had a stronger military tradition, and hence the region initially boasted the more experienced military leaders.
The first large battle of the war, at Bull Run, Virginia, (also known as First Manassas) near Washington, stripped away any illusions that victory would be quick or easy. It also established a pattern, at least in the eastern United States, of bloody Southern victories, but victories that never translated into a decisive military advantage. For the first years, the South would often win the battle, but not the war.
In contrast to its military failures in the East, Union forces were able to secure battlefield victories and slow strategic success at sea and in the West. Most of the Navy, at the war's beginning, was in Union hands, but it was scattered and weak. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles took prompt measures to strengthen it. Lincoln then proclaimed a blockade of the Southern coasts. Although the effect of the blockade was negligible at first, by 1863 it almost completely prevented shipments of cotton to Europe and the importation of munitions, clothing and the medical supplies the South sorely needed.
Meanwhile, a brilliant naval commander, David Farragut, conducted two remarkable operations. In one, he took a Union fleet into the mouth of the Mississippi River, where he forced the surrender of the largest city in the South, New Orleans, Louisiana. In another, he made his way past the fortified entrance of Mobile Bay, Alabama, captured a Confederate ironclad vessel and sealed up the port.
In the Mississippi Valley, the Union forces won an almost uninterrupted series of victories. They began by breaking a long Confederate line in Tennessee, thus making it possible to occupy almost all the western part of the state. When the important Mississippi River port of Memphis was taken, Union troops advanced some 320 kilometers into the heart of the Confederacy. With the tenacious General Ulysses S. Grant in command, Union forces withstood a sudden Confederate counterattack at Shiloh, on the bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River, holding their ground stubbornly until reinforcements arrived to repulse the Confederates. Those killed and wounded at Shiloh numbered more than 10,000 on each side, a casualty rate that Americans had never before experienced. But it was only the beginning of the carnage.
In Virginia, by contrast, Union troops continued to meet one defeat after another. In a succession of bloody attempts to capture Richmond, the Confederate capital, Union forces were repeatedly thrown back. The Confederates had two great advantages: strong defense positions afforded by numerous streams cutting the road between Washington and Richmond; and two generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. ("Stonewall") Jackson, both of whom far surpassed in ability the early Union commanders. In 1862 the Union commander, George McClellan, made a slow, excessively cautious attempt to seize Richmond. But in the Seven Days' Battles between June 25 and July 1, the Union troops were driven steadily backward, both sides suffering terrible losses.
After another Confederate victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run (or Second Manassas), Lee crossed the Potomac River and invaded Maryland. McClellan again responded tentatively, despite learning that Lee had split his army and was heavily outnumbered. The Union and Confederate Armies met at Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862, in the bloodiest single day of the war: more than 4,000 died on both sides and 18,000 were wounded. Despite his numerical advantage, however, McClellan failed to break Lee's lines or press the attack, and Lee was able to retreat across the Potomac with his army intact. As a result, Lincoln fired McClellan.
Although Antietam was inconclusive in military terms, its consequences were nonetheless momentous. Great Britain and France, both on the verge of recognizing the Confederacy, delayed their decision, and the South never received the diplomatic recognition and economic aid from Europe that it desperately sought.
Antietam also gave Lincoln the opening he needed to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states rebelling against the Union were free. In practical terms, the Proclamation had little immediate impact; it freed slaves only in the Confederate states, while leaving slavery intact in the border states. Politically, however, it meant that in addition to preserving the Union, the abolition of slavery was now a declared objective of the Union war effort.
The final Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, also authorized the recruitment of blacks into the Union Army, which abolitionist leaders such as Frederick Douglass had been urging since the beginning of armed conflict. In fact, Union forces already had been sheltering escaped slaves as "contraband of war," but following the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union Army recruited and trained regiments of black soldiers that fought with distinction in battles from Virginia to the Mississippi. About 178,000 African Americans served in the United States Colored Troops, and 29,500 blacks served in the Union Navy.
Despite the political gains represented by the Emancipation Proclamation, however, the North's military prospects in the East remained bleak as Lee's Army of Northern Virginia continued to maul the Union Army of the Potomac, first at Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862 and then at Chancellorsville in May 1863. But Chancellorsville, although one of Lee's most brilliant military victories, was also one of his most costly with the death of his most valued lieutenant, General Stonewall Jackson, who was mistakenly shot by his own men.
Yet none of the Confederate victories was decisive. The federal government simply mustered new armies and tried again. Believing that the North's crushing defeat at Chancellorsville gave him his chance, Lee struck northward into Pennsylvania, in July 1863, almost reaching the state capital at Harrisburg. A strong Union force intercepted Lee's march at Gettysburg, where, in a titanic three-day battle -- the largest of the Civil War -- the Confederates made a valiant effort to break the Union lines. They failed, and Lee's veterans, after crippling losses, fell back to the Potomac.
More than 3,000 Union soldiers and almost 4,000 Confederates died at Gettysburg; wounded and missing totaled more than 20,000 on each side. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln dedicated a new national cemetery at Gettysburg with perhaps the most famous address in U.S. history. He concluded his brief remarks with these words:
On the Mississippi, Union control was blocked at Vicksburg, where the Confederates had strongly fortified themselves on bluffs too high for naval attack. By early 1863 Grant began to move below and around Vicksburg, subjecting the position to a six-week siege. On July 4, he captured the town, together with the strongest Confederate Army in the West. The river was now entirely in Union hands. The Confederacy was broken in two, and it became almost impossible to bring supplies from Texas and Arkansas.
The Northern victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July 1863 marked the turning point of the war, although the bloodshed continued unabated for more than a year-and-a-half.
Lincoln brought Grant east and made him commander-in-chief of all Union forces. In May 1864 Grant advanced deep into Virginia and met Lee's Confederate Army in the three-day Battle of the Wilderness. Losses on both sides were heavy, but unlike other Union commanders, Grant refused to retreat. Instead, he attempted to outflank Lee, stretching the Confederate lines and pounding away with artillery and infantry attacks. "I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer," the Union commander said at Spotsylvania, during five days of bloody trench warfare that largely characterized fighting on the eastern front for almost a year.
In the West, Union forces gained control of Tennessee in the fall of 1863 with victories at Chattanooga and nearby Lookout Mountain, opening the way for General William T. Sherman to invade Georgia. Sherman outmaneuvered several smaller Confederate armies, occupied the state capital of Atlanta, then marched to the Atlantic coast, systematically destroying railroads, factories, warehouses and other facilities in his path. His men, cut off from their normal supply lines, ravaged the countryside for food. From the coast, Sherman marched northward, and by February 1865, he had taken Charleston, South Carolina, where the first shots of the Civil War had been fired. Sherman, more than any other Union general, understood that destroying the will and morale of the South was as important as defeating its armies.
Grant, meanwhile, lay siege to Petersburg, Virginia, for nine months, before Lee, in March 1865, abandoned both Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond in an attempt to retreat south. But it was too late, and on April 9, 1865, surrounded by huge Union armies, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Although scattered fighting continued elsewhere for several months, the Civil War was over.
The terms of surrender at Appomattox were magnanimous, and on his return from his meeting with Lee, Grant quieted the noisy demonstrations of his soldiers by reminding them: "The rebels are our countrymen again." The war for Southern independence had become the "lost cause," whose hero, Robert E. Lee, had won wide admiration through the brilliance of his leadership and his greatness in defeat.
For the North, the war produced a still greater hero in Abraham Lincoln -- a man eager, above all else, to weld the Union together again, not by force and repression but by warmth and generosity. In 1864 he had been elected for a second term as president, defeating as his Democratic opponent, George McClellan, the general whom Lincoln had dismissed after Antietam.
Lincoln's second inaugural address closed with these words:
Three weeks later, two days after Lee's surrender, Lincoln delivered his last public address, in which he unfolded a generous reconstruction policy.
On April 14, the president held what was to be his last Cabinet meeting. That evening -- with his wife and a young couple who were his guests -- he attended a performance at Ford's Theater. There, as he sat in the presidential box, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a Virginia actor embittered by the South's defeat. Booth was killed in a shootout some days later in a barn in the Virginia countryside. His accomplices were captured and later executed.
Lincoln died in a downstairs bedroom of a house across the street from Ford's on the morning of April 15. Wrote poet James Russell
The first great task confronting the victorious North -- now under the leadership of Lincoln's vice president, Andrew Johnson, a Southerner who remained loyal to the Union -- was to determine the status of the states that had seceded. Lincoln had already set the stage. In his view, the people of the Southern states had never legally seceded; they had been misled by some disloyal citizens into a defiance of federal authority. And since the war was the act of individuals, the federal government would have to deal with these individuals and not with the states. Thus, in 1863 Lincoln proclaimed that if in any state 10 percent of the voters of record in 1860 would form a government loyal to the U.S. Constitution and would acknowledge obedience to the laws of the Congress and the proclamations of the president, he would recognize the government so created as the state's legal government.
Congress rejected this plan and challenged Lincoln's right to deal with the matter without consultation. Some members of Congress advocated severe punishment for all the seceded states. Yet even before the war was wholly over, new governments had been set up in Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.
To deal with one of its major concerns -- the condition of former slaves -- Congress, in March 1865, established the Freedmen's Bureau to act as guardian over African Americans and guide them toward self-support. And in December of that year, Congress ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery.
Throughout the summer of 1865 Johnson proceeded to carry out Lincoln's reconstruction program, with minor modifications. By presidential proclamation he appointed a governor for each of the former Confederate states and freely restored political rights to large numbers of Southern citizens through use of presidential pardons.
In due time conventions were held in each of the former Confederate states to repeal the ordinances of secession, repudiate the war debt, and draft new state constitutions. Eventually a native Unionist became governor in each state with authority to convoke a convention of loyal voters. Johnson called upon each convention to invalidate the secession, abolish slavery, repudiate all debts that went to aid the Confederacy and ratify the 13th Amendment. By the end of 1865, this process, with a few exceptions, was completed.
Both Lincoln and Johnson had foreseen that the Congress would have the right to deny Southern legislators seats in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives, under the clause of the Constitution that says "Each house shall be the judge of the...qualifications of its own members." This came to pass when, under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, those congressmen (called "Radical Republicans") who sought to punish the South refused to seat its elected senators and representatives. Then, within the next few months, the Congress proceeded to work out a plan for the reconstruction of the South quite different from the one Lincoln had started and Johnson had continued.
Wide public support gradually developed for those members of Congress who believed that blacks should be given full citizenship. By July 1866, Congress had passed a civil rights bill and set up a new Freedmen's Bureau -- both designed to prevent racial discrimination by Southern legislatures. Following this, the Congress passed a 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the states in which they reside," thus repudiating the Dred Scott ruling which had denied slaves their right of citizenship.
All the Southern state legislatures, with the exception of Tennessee, refused to ratify the amendment, some voting against it unanimously. In addition, in the aftermath of the war, Southern state legislatures passed black codes, which aimed to reimpose bondage on the freedmen. The codes differed from state to state, but some provisions were common. Blacks were required to enter into annual labor contracts, with penalties imposed in case of violation; dependent children were subject to compulsory apprenticeship and corporal punishments by masters; and vagrants could be sold into private service if they could not pay severe fines.
In response, certain groups in the North advocated intervention to protect the rights of blacks in the South. In the Reconstruction Act of March 1867, Congress, ignoring the governments that had been established in the Southern states, divided the South into five districts and placed them under military rule. Escape from permanent military government was open to those states that established civil governments, took an oath of allegiance, ratified the 14th Amendment and adopted black suffrage.
The amendment was ratified in 1868. The 15th Amendment, passed by Congress the following year and ratified in 1870 by state legislatures, provided that "The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."
The Radical Republicans in Congress were infuriated by President Johnson's vetoes (even though they were overridden) of legislation protecting newly freed blacks and punishing former Confederate leaders by depriving them of the right to hold office. Congressional antipathy to Johnson was so great that for the first time in American history, impeachment proceedings were instituted to remove the president from office.
Johnson's main offense was his opposition to punitive congressional policies and the violent language he used in criticizing them. The most serious legal charge his enemies could level against him was that despite the Tenure of Office Act (which required Senate approval for the removal of any officeholder the Senate had previously confirmed), he had removed from his Cabinet the secretary of war, a staunch supporter of the Congress. When the impeachment trial was held in the Senate, it was proved that Johnson was technically within his rights in removing the Cabinet member. Even more important, it was pointed out that a dangerous precedent would be set if the Congress were to remove a president because he disagreed with the majority of its members. The attempted impeachment failed by a narrow margin, and Johnson continued in office until his term expired.
Under the Military Reconstruction Act, Congress, by June 1868, had readmitted Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, to the Union. In many of these seven reconstructed states, the majority of the governors, representatives and senators were Northern men -- so-called "carpetbaggers" -- who had gone South after the war to make their political fortunes, often in alliance with newly freed African Americans. In the legislatures of Louisiana and South Carolina, African Americans actually gained a majority of the seats. The last three Southern states -- Mississippi, Texas and Virginia -- finally accepted congressional terms and were readmitted to the Union in 1870.
Many Southern whites, their political and social dominance threatened, turned to illegal means to prevent blacks from gaining equality. Violence against blacks became more and more frequent. In 1870 increasing disorder led to the passage of an Enforcement Act severely punishing those who attempted to deprive the black freedmen of their civil rights.
As time passed, it became more and more obvious that the problems of the South were not being solved by harsh laws and continuing rancor against former Confederates. In May 1872, Congress passed a general Amnesty Act, restoring full political rights to all but about 500 Confederate sympathizers.
Gradually Southern states began electing members of the Democratic Party into office, ousting so-called carpetbagger governments and intimidating blacks from voting or attempting to hold public office. By 1876 the Republicans remained in power in only three Southern states. As part of the bargaining that resolved the disputed presidential elections that year in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republicans promised to end Radical Reconstruction, thereby leaving most of the South in the hands of the Democratic Party. In 1877 Hayes withdrew the remaining government troops, tacitly abandoning federal responsibility for enforcing blacks' civil rights.
The South was still a region devastated by war, burdened by debt caused by misgovernment, and demoralized by a decade of racial warfare. Unfortunately, the pendulum of national racial policy swung from one extreme to the other. Whereas formerly it had supported harsh penalties against Southern white leaders, it now tolerated new and humiliating kinds of discrimination against blacks. The last quarter of the 19th century saw a profusion of "Jim Crow" laws in Southern states that segregated public schools, forbade or limited black access to many public facilities, such as parks, restaurants and hotels, and denied most blacks the right to vote by imposing poll taxes and arbitrary literacy tests.
In contrast with the moral clarity and high drama of the Civil War, historians have tended to judge Reconstruction harshly, as a murky period of political conflict, corruption and regression. Slaves were granted their freedom, but not equality. The North completely failed to address the economic needs of the freedmen. Efforts such as the Freedmen's Bureau proved inadequate to the desperate needs of former slaves for institutions that could provide them with political and economic opportunity, or simply protect them from violence and intimidation. Indeed, federal Army officers and agents of the Freedmen's Bureau were often racists themselves. Blacks were dependent on these Northern whites to protect them from white Southerners, who, united into organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, intimidated blacks and prevented them from exercising their rights. Without economic resources of their own, many Southern blacks were forced to become tenant farmers on land owned by their former masters, caught in a cycle of poverty that would continue well into the 20th century.
Reconstruction-era governments did make genuine gains in rebuilding Southern states devastated by the war, and in expanding public services, notably in establishing tax-supported, free public schools for blacks and whites. However, recalcitrant Southerners seized upon instances of corruption (hardly unique to the South in this era) and exploited them to bring down radical regimes. The failure of Reconstruction meant that the struggle of African Americans for equality and freedom was deferred until the 20th century -- when it would become a national, and not a Southern issue.
Throughout his presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced serious opposition to his political and wartime policies. Even in the North, the Civil War was so divisive and consumed so many lives and resources that it could hardly have been otherwise.
Opposition to Lincoln naturally coalesced in the Democratic Party, whose candidate, Stephen Douglas, had won 44 percent of the free states' popular vote in the 1860 election.
The strength of the opposition generally rose and fell in proportion to the North's effectiveness on the battlefield. The first manifestation of dissatisfaction with the war effort -- and by extension Lincoln -- came not from the Democrats, however, but from the Congress, which formed the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War in December 1861 to investigate the poor Union showing at Bull Run and Ball's Bluff. Dominated by radical Republicans, the Joint Committee pushed the Lincoln administration toward a more aggressive engagement of the war, as well as toward emancipation.
As might be expected from the party of "popular sovereignty," some Democrats believed that full-scale war to reinstate the Union was unjustified. This group came to be known as the Peace Democrats. Their more extreme elements were called "Copperheads."
Whether of the "war" or "peace" faction, few Democrats believed the emancipation of the slaves was worth shedding Northern blood. Indeed, opposition to emancipation had long been party policy. In 1862, for example, virtually every Democrat in Congress voted against eliminating slavery in the District of Columbia and prohibiting it in the territories.
Much of the opposition to emancipation came from the working poor, particularly Irish and German Catholic immigrants, who feared a massive migration of newly freed blacks to the North. Spurred by such sentiments, race riots erupted in several Northern cities in 1862.
With the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863, Lincoln clearly added the abolition of slavery to his war aims. This was far from universally accepted in the North. In both Indiana and Illinois, for example, the state legislatures passed laws calling for peace with the Confederacy and retraction of the "wicked, inhuman and unholy" proclamation.
The North's difficulties in prosecuting the war led Lincoln, in September 1862, to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and impose martial law on those who interfered with recruitment or gave aid and comfort to the rebels. This breech of civil law, although constitutionally justified during times of crisis, gave the Democrats another opportunity to criticize Lincoln. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton enforced martial law vigorously, and many thousands -- most of them Southern sympathizers or Democrats -- were arrested.
The Union's need for manpower led to the first compulsory draft in U.S. history. Enacted in 1863 to "encourage" enlistment, the draft further alienated many. Opposition was particularly strong among the Copperheads of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, where federal troops had to be called out to enforce compliance with it.
It must be noted that a man who was drafted could buy his way out for $300, about the equivalent of an unskilled laborer's annual income at that time. This feature added to the impression -- strongly held in parts of the Confederacy as well -- that this was a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight."
The most significant resistance to the draft took place in New York City in the summer of 1863. A Democratic Party stronghold, New York had already seen several draft officials killed that year. In July a group of blacks were brought into the city, under police protection, to replace striking Irish longshoremen. At the same time, officials held a lottery drawing for the unpopular draft. The conjunction of the two events led to a four-day riot in which a number of black neighborhoods, draft offices and Protestant churches were destroyed and at least 105 people killed. It was not until several Union regiments arrived from Gettysburg that order could be restored.
The most celebrated civil case of the Civil War also took place that year. It concerned Clement Vallandigham, an aspiring Democratic candidate for the governorship of Ohio. Apparently seeking to bolster his candidacy, Vallandigham defied a local military ban against "treasonous activities" and attacked Lincoln's policies, calling for negotiations to end the war and terming it "a war for the freedom of the blacks and the enslavement of the whites." Union soldiers subsequently broke into his house and arrested him.
The legality of Vallandigham's arrest was immediately challenged by the Democrats and, indeed, some Republicans as well. Lincoln's response was to have him sent behind Confederate lines, where Vallandigham won the nomination. Making his way to Canada, he then carried out a boisterous, but unsuccessful, campaign.
Despite the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in 1863, Democratic "peace" candidates continued to play on the nation's misfortunes and racial sensitivities. Indeed, the mood of the North was such that Lincoln was convinced he would lose his re-election bid in November 1864.
The Democratic candidate for president that year was General George McClellan, the man Lincoln had removed as commander of the Army of the Potomac two years earlier. McClellan's vice presidential candidate was a close ally of Vallandigham. Despite the hopes of the Democrats, however, McClellan refused to embrace the party's goal of negotiating an end to the war. Nonetheless, with victory at last within sight, Lincoln easily defeated McClellan in November, capturing every Northern state except New Jersey and Delaware.