1864 Presidential Campaign

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 17, 1864

During the Civil War, Americans relied on Harper's Weekly as their primary source of news on the war. These newspapers contained detailed accounts of the battle, and insightful analyses of both the war and the politics of the day. Today, they make for incredible reading.

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Campaign

1864 Campaign

Abraham Lincoln Comments on Civil War

Petersburg

Petersburg

General McClellan

General McClellan Portrait

McClellan 1864 Presidential Nomination

Dutch Gap

Dutch Gap Canal

Jeff Davis

General Jeff Davis

Fort Morgan Attack

Bombardment of Fort Morgan

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Ezra Church

Battle of Ezra Church

President Lincoln Cartoon

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HARPERS WEEKLY.

[ SEPTEMBER 17, 1864.

594

A HYMN FOR THE NORTHERN
PEOPLE.

SEPTEMBER 11, 1864.

GREAT God of Battles, lift we unto Thee A people's voice in gratitude and praise, Thou, who, unsearchable in all Thy ways,

Ordainest victory.

To Thee we bow, lend unto us Thine ear, Clothe us, 0 Lord ! with thy protecting power, And unto us in this our thankful hour,

Great God in Heaven, draw near !

Bend down upon us Thine all-seeing eyes, Thou who in ages past Thy throne didst set With myriad stars, and see our altars wet

With blood of sacrifice!

Reach unto us, 0 God ! Thy bounteous hand, Full of all blessings with the closing year, And scatter them like good seed far and near,

Throughout our bleeding land !

Forgive our foes, restore to them their sight, Who in blind wrath unsheathed the cruel sword, And in Thy boundless mercy, 0 good Lord !

Reveal to them the light!

Forgive our sins—so were we taught to pray—Cleanse us from guilt; allay our many fears ; Wipe from the people's eyes the scalding tears,

0 turn our night to day !

Announce Thy coming, Lord ! show us that sign Seen in the prophet's vision long ago;

How long. 0 Lord! from out the press must flow The nation's blood-red wine?

Give unto them, the rulers of our land,

A love of Truth, of Justice, and of Right:

May they be upright in Thine own pure sight :

Give each a firm right hand!

Let War, and Pestilence, and Famine cease From off the earth ; Great God ! we fain would hear, Ere yet the Christmas chimes sound sweet and clear,

The voice of Christ say "Peace!"

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1864.

THE SIMPLE ISSUE.

THE Presidential election turns upon a question as simple as it is momentous. Shall the American people relinquish the effort to maintain the authority of their Government, or shall they concede that it is destroyed ? 'That is the question, and it has but two sides. Whoever believes that the Union and Government should be unconditionally maintained will vote for LINCOLN and JOHNSON, all others will vote for McCLELLAN and PENDLETON.

The Chicago Convention resolved " that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, * * * * justice, humanity, liberty and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities with a view to an ultimate Convention of all the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union o the States." In other words, the slave-system having risen in insurrection against the American people, they are to confess themselves conquered and to believe that justice, humanity, and liberty require that slavery should have increased security. That is the platform of GEORGE B. McCLELLAN.

The Baltimore Convention resolved " that it is the highest duty of every American citizen to maintain against all their enemies the Integrity of the Union and the paramount authority of the Constitution and laws of the United States; and that, laying aside all differences and political opinions, we pledge ourselves as Union men, animated by a common sentiment and aiming at a common object, to do every thing in our power to aid the Government in quelling by force of arms the rebellion now raging against its authority, and in bringing to the punishment due to their crimes the rebels and traitors arrayed against it." In other words, the American people have not failed, and do not intend to fail, in the conflict with the insurrection of Slavery. Justice, humanity, and liberty require not that it shall be strengthened, but that it shall be destroyed by every constitutional moans. That is the platform of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Which has the true ring? Which speaks the resolution of a great and brave people, and which the base submission of a cowed and craven nation ? Which is the spirit of Bunker Hill and Saratoga, of PERRY and DECATUR, of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, of the Weldon Railroad, Mobile, and Atlanta, of GRANT, FARRAGUT, and SHERMAN; and which that of BENEDICT ARNOLD, whose treacherous heart told the same people in 1780, after four years of war, that their Government was a tyranny that deluged the land with blood, and that he, BENEDICT ARNOLD, wished to lead Americans to peace ?

GENERAL SHERMAN.

THE victory at Atlanta crowns one of the most daring and extraordinary military campaigns in history. " Since the 15th of May," quietly says General SHERMAN on the 3d of September, "we have been in one constant battle or skirmish, and need rest." A glance at the

map shows what these words mean. It shows the point from which he moved and that which he has gained; the first was long considered impregnable, and became ours a year ago ; the second was held by the rebels as scarcely less precious than Richmond, and is now lost to them. But these great results have been obtained only by great sagacity, the most incessant labor, and invincible bravery. The steady advance by direct assault and masterly flanking of unassailable points; the protection of an errormous line of communications ; the safe crossing of rapid rivers; the pushing an enemy to his fortified base; the repulse of all his fierce assaults, and the final severing of his army, with his defeat and flight with an army that can not but be terribly demoralized—all these show that we have at last learned to make war, and that at the West, as in the East, we have "a great captain."

It was mainly to General SHERMAN, said General GRANT in his report of the battle at Shiloh, that I owe the victory. At Vicksburg he was the right hand of the Lieutenant-General ; and at Atlanta he fulfills the highest expectation of his senior and the gladdest hopes of his country. The fall of Atlanta is a confirmation, in thunder tones, of his noble words written in January, 1861, to the Governor of Louisiana, when he was Superintendent of the State Military Academy, and began to be convinced that rebellion and war were at hand. That letter, recently republished, has the clear ring of his late dispatches. General SHERMAN knew what was coming. He knew that secession would be war, and that the war would be vast and terrible. With the prescience of genius he said when in command in Kentucky, " We need here two hundred thousand men ;" and the Secretary of War at that time thought him crazy, and relieved him of his command out of regard to his disordered wits.

But surely we may rejoice that we have emerged from the dark days of doubt anal inefficiency. Surely we may offer thanksgiving that the great armies of the American Union are now commanded by leaders who are not only the most skillful, daring, rapid, tenacious of soldiers—whom neither mud nor Quaker guns appall—but also men who are devoted in every fibre of their frames and drop of their blood to the faith that the experiment of war to restore the Union is not a failure ; and that no other effort for an immediate cessation of hostilities should be made by the loyal American people except renewed and overwhelming vigor in the war to confirm the absolute supremacy of the Government.   

THE EFFECT OF THE NEWS
FROM SHERMAN.

THERE is not a man who did not feel that McCLELLAN'S chances were diminished by the glad tidings from Atlanta; nor any one who does not know that if SHERMAN had been defeated, the friends of the Chicago candidate would have felt surer of his success. When people solemnly resolve, as the party which has nominated General McCLELLAN did at Chicago, that " the experiment of war" to maintain the Government and restore the Union is a " failure," how can they be glad to hear of a great and vital victory which belies their theory ? No unconditional Union man could have asked a more significant commentary upon the true character of the Chicago movement. For suppose the great McCLELLAN ratification meeting had taken place upon the Saturday the news of SHERMAN'S glorious victory was received, how like a soaking storm it would have fallen upon an assembly whose cardinal principle is a " demand that immediate efforts be made by a cessation of hostilities !" SHERMAN has done more, in his capture of Atlanta, for a cessation of hostilities than VALLANDIGHAM and his Convention could do in twelvemonths of abuse of the Administration and of the war.

If the American people were craven ; if they were so utterly humiliated and prostrated that they could hear of the success of our soldiers only with abject regret; if they were really willing to surrender the victory of their Government and laws in the hour of its approaching triumph : if they truly thought that the men who managed the Convention at Chicago were more sincerely patriotic than GRANT and SHERMAN, than FARRAGUT, GRANGER, and SHERIDAN, then we too could almost be sorry for the glorious news ; for it would be clear that such a people were not worth saving, and that the life of every devoted soldier who had fallen was wasted in the cause of those who were too contemptible to respect themselves.

" HARMONIOUS."

IT is very possible that the friends of General M'CLELLAN may persuade him to put something into his letter or speech accepting the nomination which will help conceal the bald surrender of the Government contained in the Chicago Platform. But the effort will be vain. The character and intention of that Convention can not be hidden. It was, as Mr. VALLANDIGHAM and FERNANDO WOOD predicted it would be, "harmonious." It was harmonious in its desire of peace at any price. It was harmonious

in saying that it was faithful to the Union, and in declaring that the war to maintain it had failed. It was harmonious in refraining from the slightest censure of the rebellion, and in declaring that it is the loyal citizens, and not the rebels, who have defied and disregarded the Constitution. It was harmonious in the tone of all the resolutions, which imply that the responsibility for the war rests with those who approve the maintenance of the Government. It was harmonious in. its spirit of abject submission to insolent treason.

There is no escape for the candidate. If he kicks over the platform he kicks over his party, and upon his party he depends ; for does any body suppose that this country is so stark mad as, under any circumstances, to make General McCLELLAN President upon the strength of his own performances, or of confidence in the persons who most influence him ? If unshrinking vigor in the war is desired by the people, would they naturally turn to the General of the Chickahominy campaign? If a true appreciation of the political condition of the country is necessary, is it found in the letter to Judge WOODWARD ? If sincere patriotism in support of a nomination is demanded, will it probably be discovered in the " peace" and Copperhead newspapers?

The candidate may write what he will, but he can not escape the necessity of his position. He can not shake off his platform, his advocates, his party, or his own antecedents. When he was relieved of his command in the field he accepted the post of chief of a party. That party prescribes his principles ; that party nominates him ; that nomination he accepts ; and with the party policy he stands or falls.

"CONSERVATIVE" ARGUMENTS.

THE " Conservative" campaign has opened in a perfectly characteristic manner. At the meeting of exultation in the Park, on the evening that the news was received, one of the orators of the gentry who are so anxious that the laws shall be respected and personal rights secured, urged his " Conservative" friends

"....to form White-boy' clubs in every ward, and protect the freedom of the ballot-box. If there should be opposition to the freedom of election, he hoped they would put all who opposed them where they belonged, and hang them. He had heard, he said, that General Bum. was to be sent here to overawe New York ; but he thought if he was sent here with such a purpose he would never be allowed to get far up Broadway."

Another of those "Conservative" gentlemen who are profoundly concerned at the suppression of free speech, and who are opposed to fanatical appeals to passion, remarked that It has been facetiously stated that in hot weather niggers smelled badly; and it was about time to learn that in this country white men had their rights, and that the Constitution was made for white men, and not for the nigger. You have come together now to take action to restore those liberties which that secession scoundrel and traitor, ABE LINCOLN, has taken from you the rights of the poor man, and we have selected GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, the man who held the white man above ABE LINCOLN and his niggers.

"Once a poor man could walk the streets free and speak his mind, but under the rule of that ignoramus, ABE LINCOLN, he can not. Bear in mind, gentlemen, that you are the Government, and not that scoundrel at Washington.

" Will you desert the hero of South Mountain, whom Ace LINCOLN has sought to degrade, that he might make you and I lower than his nigger ? [Cries no, no.] No. God tells me you won't; your honest faces tell me you won't. When you meet your Abolition friends in the street they belch out their secession talk at you, as old ABE and his crew have done (for I hold old ABE today to be a bigger secessionist than JEFF DAVIS)."

Of course where such things are openly said in public meetings it is evident that free speech has been totally abolished ; as when an Iowa paper calls the President " a bloody monster," it is clear that a free press has ceased to exist.

These "Conservative" speeches in favor of the election of General McCLELLAN have been promptly supported by the " Conservative" papers, one of which says :

"We will strip from ABRAHAM LINCOLN the false garb of honesty he has worn so long! We will, if need be, show up, among other things, the infamy—yes, that's the word, infamy—of the White House ! If necessity requires, we. will call Senators and tradespeople, in this city and elsewhere, to attest the truth of what we say. We have no heart to expose such public and personal infidelity as, since Mr. LINCOLN'S advent, has festered there, because of the disgrace it would bring upon so many innocent persons."

Here is that freedom from personality and decorous discussion of principles which are always sure to be found in the mouths and on the pens of the " Conservative" party, and this is the most obvious and natural course of those who wish to go on their knees to rebels and ask upon what terms they will allow this Government to be carried on. " Conservatism" naturally calls JEFFERSON DAVIS " President DAVIS," and the President of the United States a scoundrel, traitor, and ignoramus, because it hates the cause represented by one and loves that of the other. Are not these " Conservative" arguments and appeals such as every true hearted American citizen sees to be most welcome to every enemy of the Union and the country ? Is a " Conservatism" whose only resource is an appeal to the basest passions of the most ignorant and brutal men, very likely to , save the dignity and honor of this nation?

DOUBTS REMOVED.

IF any one had been in doubt of the real significance of the policy which General McCLELLAN represents in this canvass, he was relieved by reading the New York Daily News on the day after the nomination. That paper is the Northern organ of the rebellion, whose policy at the North is " peace." A " peace man" is well understood to be a friend of the " Confederacy," and the "peace" organ says: "We accept the platform adopted by the Convention as a great triumph for the peace party   The nominees of the Chicago Convention stand committed to a course that is undisguisedly and unequivocally traced in accordance with the popular sentiment of opposition to the war." The News will support General McCLELLAN because he stands upon a " peace" platform, and by the side of GEORGE H. PENDLETON, who " is the man of all men" whom the News would have nominated, because he is " a consistent champion" of the "peace" sentiment.

Does any man, however friendly he may have been in his judgment of General McCLELLAN, believe that the New York Daily News has at heart the true honor and dignity or the permanent, because just, peace of the country ? Can such a man forget that Mr. VALLANDIGHAM moved to make McCLELLAN'S nomination unanimous? General McCLELLAN was nominated by a peace convention, and though he were the most resolute war man in the country, if he were elected he could not escape the policy of the party which elects him. No voter who wishes the war vigorously prosecuted until the rebels ask to be heard will vote for General McCLELLAN, because he knows that he is the candidate of those who wish to stop and ask the rebels what they want. Every opponent of the war in the land will vote for McCLELLAN, and his election would be a sign of the popular will that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities.

That is the policy which he can not escape, should he be elected ; and no one who does not favor that policy can honestly vote for him.

ON A LATE LOUD NOISE.

THE loud buzz and hum and clatter of the Chicago Convention, and of the McCLELLAN ratification meetings, might induce a heedless observer to believe that they truly represented the opinion of the American People, and that we all supposed we had been deprived of our liberties without knowing it, and had yielded to a tyrannical despotism under the delusion that we were maintaining our own lawful Government. Such a chatter about despotism and despots might make an observer imagine that the misfortune of the country is not that a desperate conspiracy is striving to overthrow the Government, but that the Government has the unblushing effrontery not to yield to its assassins. The noise of the politicians at Chicago, contrasted with the settled patriotism of the American people, recalls the famous figure of BURKE : " Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the end and are silent, it is not to be imagined that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field ; that, of course, they are many in number or that, after all, they are other than the little, shriveled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour."

AN EVIDENT TRUTH.

THE Copperheads, who insist that this war is a war waged by the President for the sake of emancipation, now assert that he is pledged to continue it for that purpose even after the submission of the rebels. But when the rebels have submitted against whom can war be carried on ? It is useless to speculate, to affirm or deny that the President will or will not continue the war after the rebel submission—simply because he can not.

The war is prosecuted for the maintenance of the Union and Government. When the rebels yield, they submit to the Constitution and all laws and executive acts in accordance with it. Whether the emancipation proclamation so accords is a question which the President has himself left to the Supreme Court.

It is impossible honestly to mistake the President's position upon the Slavery question. His letters to Mr. GREELEY and to Mr. HODGES, and his various messages and speeches express it as plainly as words can. "I am naturally anti-slavery," he writes to Mr. HODGES. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.

And I aver that to this day I have done no
official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on slavery."

So in the manifest—" To whom it may concern"—the President states what he understands to be the condition upon which a permanent peace is possible. In that paper he takes the initiative, and says that whoever is authorized by a power which can control the rebel armies (Next Page)


 

 

  

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