Abraham Lincoln Nomination for Second Term


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 9, 1864

During the Civil War, people on the home front relied on Harper's Weekly for news of the War. The paper was the most popular newspaper of the day, and was distributed across the country. Today, it is popular with students and researchers seeking a better understanding of the important people and issues in the war.

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Lincoln Nomination

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[JULY 9, 1864.


(Previous Page) the 12th of April, 1848, he resigned his connection with the United States Army, and became engaged as an iron manufacturer in Venango County, Pennsylvania ; but in 1861 again entered the service, with a commission as Captain in the Sixteenth Infantry, and at a subsequent date was appointed Colonel of one of the Pennsylvania regiments. He fought bravely in all the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, gradually advancing in rank, until September, 1862, when, for gallant conduct at Antietam, he was made a Brigadier-General. At the battle of Gettysburg he was in command of the Third Division of his corps, and after the wounding of General HANCOCK was temporarily in command of the corps. When the Army of the Potomac was reorganized for the present campaign, General HAYS was placed in command of the Second Brigade, BIRNEY'S Third Division, Second Corps, under General HANCOCK.




WE print below the letter of the Committee of the National Union Convention informing Mr. LINCOLN of his nomination, and the President's reply. His unanimous renomination by a great popular assembly after three years' administration of the Government is the most honorable and substantial approval of the general policy of that administration. The reply, therefore, is short, simple, and dignified. The President neither explains nor defends his policy. It has been open to the country, and the country is content. Having seen him faithful and wise in the past, and understanding the infinitely difficult circumstances of his position, loyal men do not fear to trust him in the future.

The single explanation which the President makes in his reply is in regard to the resolution of the Convention upon the French movements in Mexico. That resolution expressed in the strongest terms the popular jealousy of all foreign monarchical intervention upon this continent as menacing our peace and independence. The President replies that, while fully concurring in the resolution, he ought to prevent misunderstanding by adding that his executive action upon the subject will be unchanged " so long as the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable." In other words, he does not propose to go to war with France under present circumstances, nor idly threaten to go to war. His position is the true and dignified one for the Government of the United States.

The President pays a just and touching tribute to the soldiers and sailors whom neither he nor the country can too heartily honor. And like all that he says or writes, this letter will commend the President only more nearly to the heart of the people whom he serves so faithfully and well.

NEW YORK, 14th June, 1864.

Hon. Abraham Lincoln :

SIR,—The National Union Convention, which assembled in Baltimore on the 7th of June, 1864, has instructed us to inform you that you were nominated with enthusiastic unanimity for the Presidency of the United States, for four years from the 4th of March next.

The resolutions of the Convention, which we have already had the honor of placing in your hands, are a full and clear statement of the principles which inspired its action, and which, as we believe, the great body of Union men in the country heartily approve. Whether those resolutions express the national gratitude to our soldiers and sailors ; or the national scorn of compromise with rebels, and consequent dishonor; or the patriotic duty of union and success; whether they approve the Proclamation of Emancipation, the Constitutional amendment, the employment of former slaves as Union soldiers, or the solemn obligation of the Government promptly to redress the wrongs of every soldier of the Union of whatever color or race; whether they declare the inviolability of the pledged faith of the nation, or offer the national hospitality to the oppressed of every land, or urge the union by railroad of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; whether they recommend public economy and vigorous taxation, or assert the fixed popular opposition to the establishment by armed force of foreign monarchies in the immediate neighborhood of the United States, or declare that those only are worthy of official trust who approve unreservedly the view and policy indicated in the resolutions,--they were equally hailed with the heartiness of profound conviction.

Believing with you, Sir, that this is the people's war for the maintenance of a Government which you have justly described as " of the people, by the people, for the people," we are very sure that you will be glad to know, not only from the resolutions themselves, but from the singular harmony and enthusiasm with which they were adopted, how warm is the popular welcome of every measure in the prosecution of the war, which is as vigorous, unmistakable, and unfaltering as the national purpose itself. No right, for instance, is so precious and sacred to the American heart as that of personal liberty. Its violation is regarded with just, instant, and universal jealousy. Yet in this hour of peril every faithful citizen concedes that, for the sake of national existence and the common welfare, individual liberty may, as the Constitution provides in case of rebellion, be sometimes summarily constrained, asking only with painful anxiety that in every instance, and to the least detail, that absolutely necessary power shall not be hastily or unwisely exercised.

We believe, Sir, that the honest will of the Union men of the country was never more truly represented than in this Convention. Their purpose we believe to be the over throw of armed rebels in the field, and the security of permanent peace and union by liberty and justice under the Constitution. That these results are to be achieved amidst cruel perplexities they are fully aware. That they are to be reached only by cordial unanimity of counsel is undeniable. That good men may sometimes differ as to the means and the time they know. That in the conduct of all human affairs the highest duty is to determine, in the angry conflict of passion, how much good may be practically accomplished, is their sincere persuasion. They have watched your official course, therefore, with unflagging attention ; and amidst the bitter taunts of eager friends and the fierce denunciation of enemies ; now mov-

ing too fast for some, now too slowly for others, they have seen you throughout this tremendous contest patient, sagacious, faithful, just; leaning upon the heart of the great mass of the people, and satisfied to be moved by its mighty pulsations.

It is for this reason that, long before the Convention met, the popular instinct had plainly indicated you as its candidate ; and the Convention, therefore, merely recorded the popular will. Your character and career prove your unswerving fidelity to the cardinal principles of American Liberty and of the American Constitution. In the name of that Liberty and Constitution, Sir, we earnestly request your acceptance of this nomination ; reverently commending our beloved country, and you, its Chief Magistrate, with all its brave sons who, on sea and land, are faithfully defending the good old American cause of equal rights, to the blessing of Almighty God.

We are, Sir, respectfully,

Your friends and fellow-citizens,

WILLIAM DENNISON, Ohio, Chairman. JOSIAH DRUMMOND, Maine. THOMAS E. SAWYER, New Hampshire. BRADLEY BARLOW, Vermont. A. H. BULLOCK, Massachusetts. A. M. GAMMELL, Rhode Island. C. S. BUSHNELL, Connecticut. G. W. CURTIS, New York. W. A. NEWELL, New Jersey. HENRY JOHNSON, Pennsylvania.

  1. B. SMITHERS, Delaware. W. L. W. SEABROOK, Maryland. JOHN F. HUME, Missouri. G. W. HITE, Kentucky.

E. P. TYFFE, Ohio.

CYRUS M. ALLEN, Indiana. W. BUSHNELL, Illinois. L.P. ALEXANDER, Michigan. A. W. RANDALL, Wisconsin. A. OLIVER, Iowa.

THOMAS SIMPSON, Minnesota. JOHN BIDWELL, California, THOMAS H. PEARNE, Oregon. LEROY KRAMER, West Virginia. A. C. WILDER, Kansas.

  1. M. BRIEN, Tennessee. J. P. Guavas, Nevada.

A. A. ATOCHA, Louisiana. A. S. PADDOCK, Nebraska. VALENTINE DELL, Arkansas. JOHN A. NYE, Colorado.



Hon. William Dennison and others, a Committee of the National Union Convention:

GENTLEMEN,-Your letter of the 14th instant, formally notifying me that I have been nominated by the Convention you represent for the Presidency of the United States for four years from the fourth of March next, has been received. The nomination is gratefully accepted, as the Resolutions of the Convention—called the platform—are heartily approved.

While the resolution in regard to the supplanting of republican government upon the Western Continent is fully concurred in, there might be misunderstanding were I not to say that the position of the Government in relation to the action of France in Mexico as assumed through the State Department and indorsed by the Convention, among the measures and acts of the Executive, will be faithfully maintained so long as the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable.

I am especially gratified that the soldier and the seaman were not forgotten by the Convention, as they forever must and will be remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they devote their lives.

Thanking you for the kind and complimentary terms in which you have communicated the nomination and other proceedings of the Convention, I subscribe myself,

Your obedient servant,



THE great Anniversary returns, and finds the sons of the revolutionary leaders defending the august and eternal principles of Liberty for which their fathers fought. The Union and Constitution have, in the course of human events, become identified with freedom for all men ; and to maintain the Union is to secure the liberty of the people, and to overthrow a treacherous and factious aristocracy which made the salvation of their special privilege the pretext for destroying the common government.

It is not useless to refresh our remembrance of the exact principle of the Revolution, because it is still pleaded as an excuse for the rebels. Earl RUSSELL, in his late speech in reply to Lord CLANRICARDE, after declaring that his lordship's confusion of mind upon the subject of aid to belligerents was almost inexcusable, fell instantly into a still more melancholy muddle. Earl RUSSELL says :

" Only a few years ago the Americans were in the habit, on the Fourth of July, of celebrating the promulgation of the Declaration of Independence, and some eminent friends of mine never failed to make eloquent and stirring orations on those occasions. I wish, while they kept up a useless ceremony—for the present generation of Englishmen are not responsible for the War of Independence—that they had inculcated upon their own minds that they should not go to war with 4,000,000, 5,000,000, or 6,000,000 of their fellow countrymen who want to put the principles of 1776 into operation as regards themselves."

Now what were the principles of 1776 ? They were mainly these, that governments rightfully exist by the consent of the governed : and that when governmental oppression is intolerable, and legal redress is hopeless, a people may take up arms to obtain relief by force. British taxation without representation was an unquestionable blow at the root of all civil liberty in the colonies. . They remonstrated, struggled, tried and exhausted every legal form and all hope of redress; and then armed, and fought, and separated. The argument was complete. The British Constitution provided no other remedy, and revolution was justifiable.

Now, if his Lordship will give ear, the plea of the rebels is not oppression--for until they rebelled they were themselves the Government. They have never pretended that they were injured by a single act of the Government of the United States against which they have risen. They have consequently never sought redress. But, stripped of all subterfuge, they saw that the great mass of the people were opposed to the

further extension and strengthening of the system of human slavery upon this continent, and so—unwilling that the consent of the people should be the basis of the Government—declaring that each State was and always had been sovereign, and might secede when it pleased, they caused several States to declare their secession ; thus asserting as a grave principle of political polity a pretense which could not be acknowledged for a moment in any individual agreement.

It was a rebellion, his Lordship will remember, against a Government which exists by the consent of the governed, and in which the voice of the majority signifies that consent. The rebels do not pretend that they are a majority of the people represented in that government, but only of a certain part of the people ; as if a majority in Yorkshire should rise against the British empire and then plead the necessity of the consent of the people to the government. Who are the people under the Government against which this rebellion is directed? They are plainly a majority of all the citizens, not the majority of a sectional minority. There is indeed no more justification for the rebellion upon the right of the people to be governed by their own consent than there is for an insurrection in any street of London against the lawful municipal authority. The rebellion is the repudiation of the principle of popular consent as the rightful source of government.

The rebel leaders, with Mr. CALHOUN their father, have indeed long asked, " what shall protect the minority from the tyranny of a majority?" The answer is, the general welfare. The whole American system proceeds upon the ground that an intelligent people knows what is best for its general interest much better than any single man, or body of men, or section of country can know. Its claim is not that it is absolutely perfect, but that, in view of human nature and of the lesson of history, the rule of an intelligent majority secures, upon the whole, greater justice to every individual and a higher average of common well being than any other form of government that has been tried.

His Lordship, and the other skeptics of the popular principle at home and abroad, may assert that ours is not a purely Democratic Government or rule of the simple majority. They will remind us that ours is a mixed system, to which states as well as individuals are parties. But his Lordship will not forget that the people of this country, who are the primary source of political power, while conferring a portion of that power upon the States have committed the supreme sovereignty to the United States. The United States are not a league or a confederacy or a partnership, but a Union. The preceedents of Greece and of the Middle Ages in Italy, of the Batavian republic, of the Hanseatic League, and of the German confederations, indeed, all precedents whatever of confederated States hitherto known are of no value in considering the American Union. Our fathers had seen the crumbling and shadowy and ineffective confederacies of ancient and modern times. They had the fatal experience of their own clumsy and powerless confederacy, and, warned by the inevitable perils of any League of States in which the States, as such, had any controlling veto, it rejected them all. The American Union blended separate States into a nation, with every national prerogative and power. By Union we mean nation. To be a Union man is to be a national man. To save the Union is to save the nation.

The plea of absolute and final State sovereignty, which is made the excuse of this rebellion, is a plea expressly invented for the purpose of justifying rebellion. It was a sophism intended to confuse the minds of an ignorant and prejudiced part of the population. States and nation, or union, are twin forms under which the people choose to exercise their power. Behind both are the people, and the same people. Evidently they do not mean that any portion of them shall assert a radical separation upon the ground of their action as a State. They assert, as they feel, their solidality. South Carolina is a room in the house which shall not and can not be erected into a separate dwelling.

With his Lordship's permission the inexcusable confusion of Lord CLANRICARDE'S mind has extended to his own, and he could as legitimately excuse a London pickpocket for resisting the English law by the principles of '76 as justify a larger rebellion against the laws of another country upon the same ground. A fleet of pirates are as much murderous outlaws as one cut-throat. The means and method of subjugating them into obedience to the law must be proportioned to their numbers, their determination, and their resources. Consequently in our case the suppression of the rebellion has assumed the form and operations of war. But the armies of GRANT and SHERMAN are still doing only the work of a national police. They are enforcing the laws. They are maintaining the will of the people. Among the hot hills of Georgia and in the blazing front of Petersburg they are asserting the original American doctrine, the principles of 1776, that governments exist by the consent of the governed; and that the natural rights of all the people shall not be destroyed by the furious passion of a few.


A FAVORITE trick of the enemies of the Government is to whisper with mysterious shrugs and starts that our losses in GRANT'S campaign have been " awful," "murderous," " unprecedented." Indeed, if we should rely upon the truth of some of the absurd stories told by clumsy Copperheads, whose desire of our defeat is stronger than their arithmetic, General GRANT would now have about 15,000 men left. Unfortunately, a correspondent of the Tribune, writing from the Army of the Potomac on the 11th of May, in the wild excitement of the tremendous battles, said that our losses so far were 40,000 ; and this number was conspicuously printed among the headings of the army news in the Tribune of May 12. This report was instantly seized and magnified by rebel sympathy, and the apostles of " peace" immediately threw up their eyes and hands at such fratricidal slaughter. The story was sent by them to their friends abroad ; and in his late hostile speech in the British House of Lords, Lord CLANRICARDE stated that in the opening of the contest 40,000 had been sacrificed. Such rumors are pernicious, and the more so that it is perfectly easy to circulate them with an air of defying contradiction.

Will those, therefore, who are so ready to hope or to fear that our loss has been disproportioned to such a campaign calmly reflect that on the 20th of May General GRANT informed the War Department that his loss in killed and missing had been overstated, and that on the 23d of May Secretary STANTON announced that the army was fully as strong and more completely equipped than when the campaign opened ; while on the 27th of June, after the reverse at the Weldon Railroad—one of the episodes that occur in every victorious campaign—Assistant Secretary DANA announces that the rebel force is not more than two-thirds of GRANT'S, that our losses during the previous week were unimportant in a military view, and that there are 51,000 rebel prisoners in our hands. There is official information that our loss in killed from the Rapidan to the James was not more than 4000, the casualties of every kind at the most 50,000, and the deaths of the wounded about 2000, or from four to five per cent. Of the wounded a large proportion are only temporarily disabled.

These facts should be borne in mind, as also the case with which stories of disaster are magnified and distorted. That the great cause is maintained by a sad loss of life and wide bereavement and desolation is but too true. But it is no less true that the parricides who are striking at the common parent are themselves terribly shattered, and that the hand which holds them now is one they can not hope to shake off. God grant a speedy end to this necessary war in the triumph of the nation and Liberty over rebellious slavery ! But by every drop of heroic blood shed for us we are consecrated to the accomplishment of the purpose which makes the war holy.


WHILE Richmond is not taken there are those who declare General GRANT'S campaign a failure. That his object was and is to occupy that city and to destroy LEE'S army is undoubtedly true ; and equally so that he has not yet succeeded. If that is failure, his campaign has failed exactly as the rebellion has failed. That counted upon cotton, European support, and the demoralization, party-spirit, and division of the North, and intended to accomplish a revolution without a serious struggle. It has been utterly disappointed and baffled. For three years it has been wrestling with all its strength. Its spirit, its prospects, and its territory have alike diminished. Are any of the gentlemen who proclaim GRANT'S failure ready to acknowledge that of the rebellion ? No ; they are not. They inform us that the rebellion is virtually successful. The ground of the assertion is that it is still fighting. But if such reasoning proves that LEE has succeeded, how can it prove that GRANT has failed ? He has not taken Richmond, and the " Confederacy" is not acknowledged. The point is still disputed. Neither contestant has wholly succeeded; neither has entirely failed.

But viewed merely as a military movement how do the facts appear? GRANT crossed the Rapidan, hoping to route LEE'S army and advance upon Richmond. LEE fell upon GRANT'S flank, hoping to destroy him, and advance upon Washington. After two days' fierce fighting GRANT forces LEE; back, or LEE, unable to hold himself upon the Rapidan, retires to Spottsylvania, his second line. GRANT tries LEE'S position there and then flanks him. LEE falls back to his third line at the North Anna. GRANT flanks him and LEE retires to his fourth line upon the Chickahominy. GRANT tries that position, and then flanks him again, forcing LEE to meet him at Petersburg. Now did not LEE prefer to defeat GRANT isolated upon the south bank of the Rapidan, fifty miles from Richmond rather than to meet him at Petersburg fifteen miles from Richmond close to his best base and with a fleet and BUTLER'S intrenchments to support him ? If LEE has had GRANT just where he wanted him, was it in the Wilderness, or at Spottsylvania, or the North Anna, or the Chick- (Next Page)




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