tv The Civil War CSPAN January 11, 2015 10:24am-11:31am EST
states, who resented the new nation and considered his creation to be illegal. israel successfully beat off the attacks, and a series of armistice agreements worked out by the united nations but in and to organize warfare in 1949. since then, israel has worked at fever pitch __ tto make a self_sufficient nation within its borders. even industry, despite serious limitations and raw materials, has grown rapidly. the camps outside israel's borders, where more than 1 million arab refugees maintain a miserable existence and demand the right to return to their homes in palestine come from which they say they were dispossessed in the war. israel says it would be possible to readmit them. it has offered to discuss compensation, but the arab
states, supporting refugees, refuse to acknowledge israel's right to palestine and will not accept any condition to. >> next on "american history tv", we continue our look at the 1864 presidential election between abraham lincoln and general george mcclellan, lincoln's former commander of the army of the potomac. university professor veron examines the issue. >> i think this is a very important issue to address very on early in the symposium.
professor varon has her bachelor's degree from fort smith college before coming to the university of virginia where she is a professor of american history. her first two books were from a woman's point of view about women's opinions and activities in the south and in antebellum, virginia. and a biography of elizabeth, a yankees spy in richmond. that her next book was on the unit, about the whole debate about the __ the discussion and strategizing of the possible breakup of the union, basically
from 1789 onwards. and most recently, her book is on victory and defeats aand freedom at the end of the civil war. that has already won a number of prizes, including the library of virginia award. professor varon has also been speaking widely, including the civil war institute. and also on c_span "book tv." it is now my great pleasure to introduce professor varon. and she will speak on the election of 1864. [applause] >> thank you.
i'm going to take the south of the whole into my frame. i would first sketch out confederate debate, and then i'll turn to southern unionism. and i will conclude by considering the question of whether the election was a turning point for the confederate war effort. any treatment of this topic must begin with too often repeated assertions that have persisted as standard fare in civil war scholarship. and the first of these is that confederate belief __ that confederate leaders believe that mcclellan's election would ensure the success of the cars. they were rooting for the democrat.
the second assertion was that for all confederates, the unequivocal reelection of lincoln was a crushing blow. now, neither of these assertions fully capture the complexity of confederate politics. it is true that confederates follow this northern election very, very carefully. but they didn't uniformly assume that mcclellan had a fighting chance in the campaign, nor did they assume that his election would be good for the self. as the election kinnock, confederates were into interpretive camps. a peace camp, led by the confederate vice president, and represented most vehemently in the press by the georgia newspaper. in the second was a hardliner camp, that is what i would call it. this is the side that believed in victory at any cost and it was led by the president of the
confederates, jefferson davis. the first camp, peace camp, and vested profound hope in the piece democrats __ or the so_called copperheads __ in the north. the critics of lincoln. the peace camp hoped for a negotiated peace. and that hope was based on an interlocking set of premises. one of them was at the north was deeply divided. the second was that the peace elements __ these copperheads __ were on the ascent politically and might even call for federal independence. another promise was that the davis administration proposed policies within the administration had lost sight of the core principle of the
southern revolution, namely state sovereignty. in the final premise was that neither side, north or south, had the will to keep battering each other indefinitely. this camp, this peace camp drew encouragement in the spring of 1864 from some intemperate congressional speeches by piece democrats such as benjamin harris of maryland. these democrats accuse lincoln of tierney, they called for an end to the war. the stevens camp argued in the development of the tea society. so, working on his premises, stevens and his allies argue that the confederate administration should make an overt policy of building up in strengthening the northern copperheads. and that they should do so by
making frequent peace proposals to the north. those proposals, stevens reckoned, would expose to the war worry northern public lincolns. unwillingness to treat the south. and this would show that he is unwilling to negotiate. this would thus strengthen the hand of the northern democrats who, presumably, were willing to negotiate for peace. as a corollary, the piece faction among the confederate argue that the confederacy should about a defense of military posture during the campaign season, and refrain from offense of fighting, less day prompt the northerners to close ranks. these confederate copperheads, those rooting ardently for northern democrat victory in the war, and working for it, had a brief moment in august __
the nominating convention for the party called for immediate cessation of hostilities and a convention of the states to negotiate peace. alexander stevens was widely quoted as saying this platform was the first real ray of light he had seen since the war began. that is how hopeful he was. his calculation was that once the shooting stopped, and some punitive negotiations or conventions, no and would have the heart tto start shooting again. as for the prospect of negotiation, what exactly did confederate copperheads think they might negotiate for at this stage? what might transpire as the states met for peace? stevens hopes that perhaps the convention might turn back the clock, reaffirms state sovereignty, renounce coercion, and perhaps even disavow
emancipation. confederate copperheads, in other words, fantasize that such a convention might bring victory. either recognition of the confederacy, their first race, or as a fallback position, reunion on the south terms. now, we're going to switch to our second camp here. this either/or formulation was completely unacceptable to the second in this debate, the hardliners. for davis and his people, peace and independent as failure. and the offering of peace proposals to the north was a sign of weakness that would only serve to stoke northern aggressions. these hardliners agreed that the confederacy should work to weaken the north from within by encouraging the peace elements there, but only clandestinely to the machinations, as it turned out, of an unofficial diplomatic mission based in canada. this diplomatic mission was going to aid those northern
peace elements. they would provide secret societies in the north with money and propaganda and organizational counsel. confederate agents, as part of these machinations, hatched such plots. as buying and hoarding gold in new york to spark a financial panic, and rating prisoner of war camps in the northwest and arming the inmates were to undermine the war effort. it is easy to dismiss this class, which came to not come as harebrained schemes based on delusional thinking. but they reflected the hope on the part of confederate in both camps really that the campaign season in the north might be attended with balance, to quote robert. that social gas might break out in the north, or perhaps even a mutiny on the scale of the new york's draft riots.
but hardliners rejected the idea that they should endorse. they feared it would discredit the democrats. jefferson davis want mcclellan to win! and that wouldn't be good for the mcclellan campaign. indeed, the confederate press had a field day. but hardliners also invoked a deep_rooted tenant of secessionist ideology. this goes back to the coming of the civil war. the argument that the democratic party cannot be relied upon to protect southern interests. hardliners invokes this deep_rooted tenant. the lesson of secession __ was that the south could depend upon no party in the north for the protection of the liberties and institutions.
noting how many union generals were old members of that party. the editorial crew concluded __ all northern parties are united in the wicked and bloody policy of subjugating the self. confederate copperheads put stock in the democratic chicago platform, as i suggested, as an expression of the two will of democrats willingness to negotiate and perhaps recognize southern independence. the hardliners, by contrast, believe that mcclellan was far more revealing than the they had adopted. they argued mcclellan was clearly a war democrat, someone who rejected southern independence. they invoked mcclellan's acceptance letter, in which he explicitly accepted that they might be peace without reunion.
mcclellan's letter famously intoned __ the union must be preserved at all hazards. i cannot look in the face of my going, to have survived so many bloody batters and tell them that their __ battles and tell them that their sacrifice had been in vain. that we had abandoned that union. no peace can be permanent without union. mcclelland position, at odds with his party's platform. for hard_liners in the confederacy, the meaning is clear. a september 19 richmond dispatch asked __ shall we be slaves to the yankees? and answered, general mcclellan says we shall. mcclellan's stance would loosen the election, the editorial predicted, because it erased any meaningful difference between lincoln and mcclellan. if mcclellan had left the northern masses any grounds for hope __ he might have been
elected. but given the choice between two war candidates, the people of the united states can have no reason to change the government. it is the old contest between the outs and the ends, so lamented this editorial. in short, the two confederate camps differed not only on the issue of means, but also ends. hardliners have little faith that the democratic president would do the south spitting. instead, they wished for lincoln's defeat. here is the key point. the core principle of the hardliners was that only battlefield victories and not political machinations would win southern independence. and the primary end of these hardliners was not to promote northern success, but to discouraged desertion.
jefferson davis himself, in his speeches and communications during the 1864 campaign, played down the importance of the northern election. he didn't say much about it. he focused instead, relentlessly, and two things. yankee atrocity, and manpower. davis invokes the union armies alleging outrage in atlanta, asking __ would you see the fair daughters of the land given over to the brutal yankees? everyone able must go to the front. convinced that recent military suspects meant that too many southern men had dirty, davidson said that half the men __ that if half the men returned to duty, they could defeat the union.
and you can whip them, he told confederate men in october 1864. if all the men would do their duty. the state of the confederacy, then, davis insisted, was in the hands of the confederates themselves. so what was the endgame? the position of the stevens faction commander substantial public support in the spring and summer of 1864. but that support waned in the fall, as union military successes improved link and prospects. we tend to credit the fall of atlanta with ceiling lincoln's victory, but in confederate eyes __ and particularly for the virginia press __ confederate verses in the shenandoah valley were every bit precipitous as the fall of atlanta. that prompted the __ enemy to
raise a great call triumph over the victory. this will ensure the victory of lincoln. with a piece democrats losing grounds in the wake of northern battlefield victories, stevens __ tthe confederate vice president __ now publicly confused davis of failing to do the right thing. steven speculated in a controversial letter, which he wrote on november 5, 1864 and was widely reprinted in the confederate press __ he speculated that jefferson davis actually preferred lincoln's election to mcclellan. davis considered this a scurrilous charge and denied it. the confederate president and vice president were at war. but many of their countrymen never took clear and consistent positions, aaligning themselves with one interpretive or another, instead these confederates careened back and forth between these two polls.
and these mental acrobatics became more ubiquitous after the fall of atlanta and the setbacks in virginia. as confederates are increasingly in damage control mode. and in damage control mode, they take to arguing that there is indeed no functional difference between lincoln or mcclellan, or that the very idea that they had ever looked to the link's election for their salvation __ or, again __ sun began to argue that lincoln's election might be preferable. when the writing was on the wall, many began to argue that lincoln's election might indeed be preferable. after all, lincoln was the devil the southerners knew. mcclellan's life, by contrast, might breathe new life into the
northern were efforts and splinter the south, if credulous southerners accepted these northerner terms. as he explained in october 1864 __ the election of lincoln is necessary for our deliverance. any other result should be disastrous to us. we need his mad pursuit of his particular ideas. lincoln's reelection will make us realize that we must make a choice between perpetual resistance, if necessary, and a condition of serfdom. as the election approach, both camps __ hhardliner and peace camps __ had images of frauds to explain why lincoln would win. confederate newspapers claimed that the democratic meetings in the north were being disrupted by abolitionist mobs and voters were being intimidated.
and that lincoln, himself, would manipulate the soldiers. that lincoln's tools will stuff the ballot boxes and shoot and carry their point. we have no idea that lincoln will permit a fair election, and therefore no hope for mcclellan election to continue. he wrote, i do not see that any good can come to us from this yankee election, yet a long to know how it has gone. i do not think there will be a real election. so many have been sent from the government and the army to use corruption at their disposal. now, for the student action, there wasn't such images of corruption and fraud.
the republicans hopes the election might bring the long_awaited revulsion against lincoln and the northern public. a revulsion on part of the notary public against lincoln. but the hardliner saw things differently. in their eyes, the republicans would get away with fraud and intimidation, and they would get away with it because lincoln and the radical republic held the majority of northerners in this way. in other ways, the widespread election corruption was not his weakness. in the end, lincoln's victory did more to vindicate the hardliners with the uncompromising commitment to commitment, then the copperheads. the hardliners insisted lincoln's victory would make the scales fall from the southerners eyes. in november 17, 1864 __
jefferson davis described to them what he took to be the yankees peace terms. we should submit to their york, acknowledge that we are criminals, and appeal to their mercy for pardon. the confederate emma holmes put it this way __ the presidential election took place several days ago, and there seems no doubt that the returns already received that lincoln is again chosen to desecrate the office once filled by george washington. war there must be, until we conquer piece. in short, throughout the campaign and its aftermath, confederate opinion was divided. with hardliners ascended and the copperheads faltering. just a quick water break your. what about southern unionists? those who rejected the confederacy. let me say a few brief words
before i focus in on the campaign. it has been difficult for scholars to measure the extent of southern unionism, and sometimes with a distinction between anti_confederates __ sometimes very ardent protests against the way in which the confederate government was conducting. and the second category, we have people who are maybe confederates at heart, but masked that confederate loyalty in order to survive and to coexist, for example, with occupying yankee armies. and then in a final category, we have true blue unionists. those who had never supported secession, and who worked for and welcome to northern victory. the lines between these categories can be hard to sort out. but it is clear that these unconditional true blue
unionists led decisive aid to the union war effort. he has argued in a fascinating book called "the south versus the south" __ 200,000 came from the border south states tthat had not seceded, 150,000 were african_americans, predominantly former slaves from the south, and 100,000 were white on the confederate states. african_american resistance the confederacy was, of course, the beating heart. slaves fled farms and plantations by the hundreds of thousands to seek refuge with the union army. and they contributed to the union victory. for them, the union success was synonymous with freedom. the motivations of white unconditional unionists, a
small minority, were so varied as to defy generalizations. some of these people had northern route or family ties, but most didn't. many of them advocated the economic development of the south __ rremake the south and image of the north, promoting industrialization, but many others were jacksonian democrats committed to in __ an agriculture economy. there were strong pockets of unionism and monotonous of country regions of the south, where plantation slavery had not taken roots. but there were unionists underground cells, if you were, in places like atlanta and richmond. now, why such a focus on southern unionism if they are small minority? wwell, it was at the heart of
the 1864 presidential campaign as the most prominent of all southern unionists, andrew johnson, was chosen to be lincoln's running mate. there has been much debate among scholars of how active a rolling can played. unless he be tempted to think that this was a low stakes decision, wwe should remind ourselves that twice in the previous generation, president had died in office and had been replaced by their vice presidents. in both instances, these vice presidents had departed dramatically from their policies of their predecessors, who revealed faultlines within the ruling political party. these precedents, not so distant from the vantage point of 1864, were very much on the minds of americans in 1864. as a campaign broadside for links and in johnson __ lincoln and joints and __ the vice
president is almost as important as the president. in case the latter dies, they rely upon the former. we should vote for no man who would that be a willing to elect this man president. the most persuasive explanation for the choice of johnson __ hhe displaces a new englander on the ticket ___ the most persuasive explanation for this choice had been offered by max, who argues that lincoln picked johnson in order to give legitimacy to his policy of wartime reconstruction. particularly tennessee, arkansas, and louisiana. lincoln was eager for the states tto be welcomed back to the union, according to the dictates of his 10% plan, which had propagated in december 1863.
this 10% plan laid out the steps for the readmission of these errant confederate states into the union, stipulating that those confederates who took an oath of allegiance __ when, in a given state, 10% of those who had voted in 1860 took that oath of loyalty. they could then elect delegates to a new constitution and rejoin the union. lincoln's inn with a 10% plan __ aim with the 10% plan was to offer generous terms to give up the rebellion, lower white southern men back into the union. the 10% plan proved controversial. radical republicans in the northern congress argued that they set the bar for admission into the union to low.
and that 50% must take loyalty until that state could be readmitted. so lincoln hopes that the selection of andy johnson would hope to neutralize this critique of his new reconstruction program. it would give congress an incentive to admit tennessee to the union __ perhaps two counts tennessee's electoral votes. johnson's choice would represent the fusion of war, democrats with republicans come into newly dubbed union party. and it would help hasten, lincoln hoped, the restoration of self_government. now, johnson himself was a hero in the north at this point. his remarkable life story was well known to americans, aand made him a hero in the north and 1 billion to confederates. let me say a few words about johnson's biography.
he had written from the humblest of roots. he was born in a log cabin in poverty in north carolina. he fled from service as an apprentice and settled in greenville, tennessee, painstakingly working his way up the political ladder. in his career, he forged a reputation as a champion of the common man. and he did so to malta's political idol, andrew jackson. representing the democratic party __ and the civil war began. he declared secession to be an odious, diabolical, help one, and how bounce doctrine. andrew jackson pinhead price for this. his family was driven into exile and his tenancy property
confiscated. johnson's unionism was rooted in the class resentment of non_slaveholding farmers against elite planters. johnson believed that wealthy planters looks down and men like him. and it was rooted, too, and the cultural differences __ such as johnson's own east tennessee. finally, it was rooted in a constitutional argument. the argument that the founders intended the union to be perpetual. secession was, and johnson's views __ johnson put this principle into action as military governor of tennessee. lincoln put him in charge there in march 1862, after battlefield victories had secured control of the western and middle sections of the state. johnson ruled with a heavy hand.
he had conspicuous critics of the lincoln administration arrested and imprisoned. he imposed taxes. johnson was determined that only unconditional consistent loyal union men, like himself, wwould save tennessee's political future. and so as governor, he require that anyone to vote in state elections would have not only the allegiance to the union, but also vouch that they were joint in the victories of the federal army. although he owned a handful of slaves and had supported the proslavery agenda before the war, johnson gradually __ that means to punish the elite and rabbit of resources. fearing that emancipation would alienate slaveholding unionists
in tennessee, johnson uurged lincoln to exempt them see from the emancipation proclamation so he, johnson, could work the issue from the inside. what she did. in august 1863, he freed his own slaves. in the year that followed, he delivered a series of speeches, and he appealed to the people of tennessee. lincoln monitored these events carefully, watch what johnson was up to intimacy. he not only abided johnson's service, but rewarded it. lincoln made it known, behind_the_scenes, his preference for the tennessean. and at the national convention in baltimore in 1864, lincoln center tennessee's convention
delegates to publicly make the case for johnson. and this they did with sstirring speeches. some radical republicans have their doubts about the tennessean. thaddeus stevens said that lincoln should have been able to find a running mate without going down one of those damned rebel provinces. but johnson, with his tough talking, might push lincoln towards a less lenient, more stringent reconstruction program. lincoln's backers in the north delighted in contrasting johnson's loyalty to the union with the altogether less admirable record of mcclellan's running mate, george pendleton of ohio. george was the very personification of the chargers copperhead democrats. and the linking campaign
trotted out his voting record in congress, all the money instances in which pendleton had voted against raising revenue for the war efforts. this was proof so the campaign argument went that pendleton was openly disloyal. what about the larger group of southern unionists. they were deeply divided, as it turns out. a few of these southern unionists positioned themselves in a pro-lincoln vanguard and actively pushed for the president's re-election. among lincoln's most prominent border state and southern backers were montgomery blair of maryland, former postmaster general, and a nemesis of the radical republicans in his state. robert j. breckenridge who led that kentucky delegation to the convention where lincoln and johnson were nominated. and jeremiah clemmons of alabama who urged unionists in his state to push for restoration under loyal leadership. clemmons also warned confederates, who he was trying
to convert to the union cause, not to fall into the trap of believing that mcclellan's election might save them. in an october 1864 pamphlet clemons tried to disabuse veterans of their "delusions." "put no faith in the divisions among the people of the north. there are party divisions, it is true, but upon the one great question, that of restoring the union, there is uninimty," clemons continued. the election of mcclellan would only prolong the war. he might suspend military operations for a time and negotiate for a peace but the only terms jefferson davis will ever offer him will be such as he dare not accept. now, andrew johnson's presence on the ticket was endorsed by men such as these, but it by no means guaranteed lincoln the support of loyalists across the border south. indeed, during the 1864
campaign, lincoln came under withering critique from the right and left ends of southern unionism. so he was opposed and quite ardently by many southern unionists. border state unionist delegations from kentucky attended the democratic national convention in chicago in late august to proclaim their support for the democratic party and its candidate. and they sailed lincoln, the democrats did, democrat unionists, for his abridgement of civil liberties, for his refusal to listen to any terms of peace upon the simple basis of union and constitution. these border democrats accused lincoln of prostituting all the powers of the government to the bain purpose of forcibly securing his own re-election, as their rhetoric ran. during the campaign, mcclellan received vigorous backing from some influential pro-war southern unionists. these were men like kentucky's governor william bramlet and maryland's senator johnson. they were pro-war, they wanted to see the union prevail. they had grudgingly come to support emancipation as a war
of aim, but did not favor the enlistment of black troops. they loathed lincoln, but they also rejected the cease-fire language in the war failure language, the argue that the war had been a failure in the democratic platform, war democrats. these conservative southern unionists often took direct aim at andy johnson. for example, the pro-mcclellan "louisville daily democrat" called johnson the most scrupulous, malignant and contemptible of all lincoln's underlings. for southern unionists, no less for confederates, the specter of electoral fraud and intimidation loomed large. in tennessee, mcclellan democrats protested andrew johnson's requirement that all voters take a test oath in which they reject an armistice with the confederacy. such an oath, the democrats complained, effectively required that voters repudiate the democratic platform and thus rigged the election in lincoln's favor. in the end, tennessee's votes
did not count or matter in lincoln's victory, but this issue of fraud had potent symbolic value as a campaign tool. in kentucky, for example, the governor, again pro-mcclellan with be accused federal authorities of using violence and intimidation to suppress the mcclellan vote, but he overlooked countervailing evidence that lincoln supporters in the state had come under similar threats from democrats. meanwhile, from the left end of the political spectrum came an altogether different sort of critique. in union occupied new orleans, african-american leaders such as john baptiste and others through the newspaper "the new orleans tribune" accused lincoln of not being radical enough. they condemned his reconstruction plan as too lenient. they pushed for african-american suffrage highlighting the heroism of black military service, and they made the case that congress, not the president, should direct the course of reconstruction. similar arguments were advanced by a small but vocal cadre of white radicals from border
states. men such as maryland's henry winter davis, who rejected lincoln's amnesty policy and worried that lincoln might be willing after the election to accept some sort of compromised peace. for radical republicans then lincoln was the lesser of two evils. this choice between mclellan was lincoln was seen in that light. let me conclude by turning to my final question. the election of 1864 as a turning point. what do these many divisions among southerners mean in the modern scholarship, namely that the election of 1864 was a turning point in the war? one illuminating way to approach this issue is modeled by the scholar william c. davis in a provocative essay on the subject. it is a sort of fallacy of reversibility exercise. he asks whether lincoln's defeat would have led to confederate independence. he answers with a resounding -- no. it would not have led to confederate independence, and it and would not have done so
because as davis notes, in the event of a democratic victory if mcclellan had won, lincoln together with grant, sherman and sheraton, would have done everything in their power to seize richmond and bring the confederacy to heel before march inauguration of mcclellan. even if they failed to extract surrender, they would still have a -- been able to hand mcclellan, now president mcclellan, now commander in chief, the imminent prospect of complete and total victory on a silver platter. william c. davis asks, referring to mcclellan, are we really supposed to ask that this men of all men given the opportunity to claim the ultimate triumph would have chosen instead to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, recall his armies and send jefferson davis a basket of roses and a note saying "you win"? of course not. therefore we must conclude that the fate of the confederacy did not hinge on this election.
i agree with davis' assessment of the strategic situation and a mcclellan likely course of action, and yet i would argue that this counterfactual exercise doesn't invalidate the case that the election of 1864 was a turning point for the confederate war effort. however much confederates try, rhetorically, to downgrade lincoln's election from a catastrophe to a setback, or even to argue that the republicans' victory was pyhrric, the fact remains that the election swept away a pillar of the confederate creed, namely the conviction that if the confederates beat the odds on the battlefield, help would come from the outside. in the form of a revolution in a northern public opinion or of foreign recognition. these two hopes were closely related. among the rumors that had calculated through confederate discourse during the campaign season was the claim that if the democrats won the election and conceded that the confederacy was unconquerable and therefore had to be negotiated and treated with, then foreign recognition of the confederacy would transpire in short order. without the prospect of help from the outside, confederates had no way to confound the logic of the overwhelming numbers and resources theory of their own
demise. that phrase which we associate with lee's farewell address had long been a part of confederate lexicon. early in the war the phrase "overwhelming numbers of resources" was invoked to motivate southern enlistment and at times a victory connoted a challenge met and overcome beating the odds, something the confederates were used to. but as the war ground on, the overwhelming numbers formulation took on the aspect of a grim prophecy, an argument that the union victory was both illegitimate and inevitable. the triumph of over right. the re-election of lincoln did not in one fell swoop crush confederate morale. indeed many confederates had come to see it as inevitable and perhaps even desirable. but the margin of lincoln's victory was sobering for southerners. lincoln's triumph was more complete than most of us expected, wrote robert keen. most judicious persons believed he would be re-elected but nearly all, while thinking his election would be better for us than mcclellan's, hoped that it would be closely contested. after lincoln's election it was dramatically more difficult for
confederates to imagine what shape victory might take, and also to keep at bay distressing rumors about what lincoln might now do with a mandate, a new mandate in hand. i'll close with a revealing example. on november 14, 1864, the prolific rebel war clerk john jones wrote in his diary lincoln is re-elected and has called for a million of men. the following day jones rejected this report as a rumor noting it is now contradicted that lincoln had called for a million men. but the rumor, as these rumors tended to do, had already taken on a life of its own, and it circulated through the confederate press, accompanied by editorial commentary. the "charleston mercury" picked up the threat on november 18th. lincoln, we hear, calls for a million of men, it reported -- adding ruefully, while his hand was in, he might as well have called for 2 million or 3 million.
it is as easy to get one as it is the other. "the richmond dispatch" reported the rumor. "lincoln is calling for a million of men to swell his armies," the paper lamented. it continued, "he does not call spirits from the vasty deep. they will come. he will have them. it would have been quite as easy to call for 5, 10 or 20 millions as for one." it added in a fitting epitaph "it may now be too late." thank you. [applause] i'd be happy to take questions if people have them. >> i understand the value of andrew -- picking andrew johnson. but why was the decision to leave hannibal hamlin? >> because again the goal here is to keep war democrats in the fold and the perception was that
hamlin was perceived by the mainstream and moderate middle of the political spectrum as too anti-slavery, too radical. and therefore, he wouldn't help in this project of keeping war democrats on board. the radical republicans had nowhere else to go. so in a sense it was less important to appeal to them. they briefly had seemed they had somewhere else to go. when fremont's campaign was considered. but that went by the wayside. i'm sure other speakers will say more about that. lincoln hoped that to secure this middle ground and this middle ground was a place where there were not only a lot of voters but a lot of soldiers governors. it was essential in lincoln's mind to keep those war democrats on board. and johnson seemed at that moment to be the perfect answer to his problem. of course we know that johnson's presidency turned out to be quite disastrous, but at this point lincoln, again, has
watched johnson closely and feels that he is a man who can be trusted. johnson, as many may know, will really stumble out of the gate gearing during the inaugural ceremonies. he is widely reported to have been drunk and makes a real fool of himself. but lincoln even then stands by him, says i know andy johnson. he messed up but he's going to find his footing and he's a good man. it can't be emphasized enough that rhetorically speaking johnson had been known as one of the great stump speakers in america, really. he was known for his fiery rhetoric and particularly his absolute uncompromising condemnation of secessionists and of the southern elite. he represented the common man. the plebians, as he liked to put it. this was thought to be an argument that could appeal to jacksonian democrats in the north as well as in the south. >> we know how the information was communicated to hamlin whether there was a conversation with lincoln -- >> that's a really interesting
question. i'm sure we know. i don't know. there is a lot of debate about this question of lincoln's choice because we don't have smoking gun in the form of documents in which lincoln talks about the choice. much of this was kind of behind the scenes negotiation of which there is no written record, so we are left to speculate. and the problem is that those who consider themselves close to lincoln and in the know offer up some conflicting perspectives on this. but again, about the question of whether really lincoln was deeply involved in the choice of johnson or just acceded to it without having thought much about it, there is evidence to support both points of view. yes, sir. >> how did mcclellan reconcile his war democrat views with the peace platform of the democratic party of 1864? >> that's a great question. one again i'm sure we'll return
to in many different contexts. the short answer in a sense is that he wasn't able to fully reconcile them and that this tension or contradiction hung in the air throughout this campaign. in a sense i think some democrats hoped that it would help them, that it would mean that they could appeal both to those who were war democrats and to those who were peace democrats, and wouldn't certainly be the first time a party had sent mixed messages in the hope of creating a big tent. but mcclellan ultimately is a soldier, and what he objected to about the platform was less that it countenanced possible negotiations than it declared the war a failure. because he had profound critiques of lincoln, and he had them since 1861. but the idea that the soldiers would be blamed for having failed. for mcclellan as a soldier who prided himself on putting the well-being of his men perhaps before all other considerations, for mcclellan, that war failure there it it would have been
-- would have been unacceptable. oh, sir there first, and then -- >> let's say johnson had declined the nomination of vice president. who would have been second? and also, lincoln was even concerned that -- they were concerned about lincoln getting assassinated even before he became president. why did he so totally let the convention decide who would be the vice president? >> well, again, there's some debate about how involved he was. and there is speculation about who else was on the list. and again we'll never know definitively. but there is speculation that he talked to ben butler about this.
ben butler would have had the same problems, disadvantages, as hamlin. perhaps even more. butler a radical republican. so there was some thought about whether you're going to reach out to that side of the spectrum. who you would have turned to if it hadn't been johnson, i'm not -- i don't know -- i'm not sure that there's a clear answer to that -- to that question. i think that -- i do think though, that lincoln had decided that appealing to this middle part of the political spectrum was his first priority in the choice, so he would have picked someone else who could do that. who was seen to be a moderate. and the context for lincoln's thinking here is both immediate electoral concerns but also lincoln's long-standing resentment of having been charged with radicalism. the republican party has been charged with radicalism since it first came on the scene in 1856. and lincoln more than any other republican had been the one to say, no we're not radicals. we're not garrisonian abolitionists. we envision a union that's whole, but becomes whole through a gradual process of evolution of voluntary, gradual compensated demise of slavery, in line with the wishes of the
founders who had wished for slavery's demise. so lincoln is trying to shore up throughout the war the case that this party is fundamentally conservative, in the sense that it's the party that embodies the wishes of the founders. and time and time again during the war, he has tried to -- to reject and discredit claims that he is a radical. and so this choice of the union party designation is part of that work. and as my colleague gary gallagher has argued in his book called "the union war," that designation of the union party in 1864 is no accident. that's very much a matter of careful calculation too, and it reflects the fact that for the vast majority of northerners the war was fundamentally about the union, and the destruction of slavery was a means to the end of restoring the union. so many hands. yes, ma'am. >> is there any indication that the confederate military, either the common soldier or
confederate military leaders were in any way involved in either of these two camps, the davis camp and the stevens camp? >> sure. if we look at the letters and diaries of confederate soldiers we can see that they followed the election very carefully, and we see that spectrum of opinion also the somersalts of reasoning, the mental acrobatics on the part of the soldiers. we see some belief very, very ardently that mcclellan's election would be best. others felt that it didn't make sense to put stock in a northern party. others still, their opinions changed based on battlefield fortunes and their morale at any given moment. we do know that just let me give you the example of lee. one of the huge perennial questions for scholars with the confederacy is, why did the confederates think they could win the war to begin with? as my students will sometimes say to me, couldn't they crunch the numbers? they could see the north had
more of everything, more men more industrial output, more agriculture, more of everything armies need. the answer to the question is complex. but on the part of men like lee, the key hope was that a revolution in northern public opinion, divisions within the north asserting themselves mainstream conservative northerners coming to their senses, throwing off the yoke of the lincoln administration, this sort of thing -- this was absolutely central to lee's reasoning about how the confederates would win the war. so -- so for someone like lee, the -- the -- the loss of the election of 1864 was, indeed profoundly demoralizing because they just saw that hope of divisions within the north asserting themselves recede. and the whole issue brings us back to the question of the quality of leadership on both sides. and the sense that those confederates who hoped that those divisions in the north would prove decisive had underestimated lincoln. and his ability to describe to
the northern public in a way that was compelling what they were fighting for. and he proved much better at that than davis did. my quotes from davis here hint at the fact that really, in davis' rhetorical arsenal, yankee atrocities and the idea that the yankees were not fighting fair, were so horrible and barbaric that there was no turning back, this was the theme that davis just relentlessly kept drumming at. and it was not this sort of invocation of positive goals positive and transcendent goals that lincoln offered northerners. yes? >> hardliners and davis emphasized more manpower for the confederate forces, and up in canada, he had operations secretly to influence the activity -- influence thinking in the north.
that seems to play in to what a very few authors writing about lincoln's assassination have said about booth. that in the fall of 1864, he too, was in montreal, meeting confederate agents secretly, and his plan was not to assassinate originally but to kidnap, to exchange for confederate prisoners. and i wonder if this activity from the south or from the confederacy for the election of 1864 somehow is wrapped up in the assassination story? >> well, there's a connection in the sense that there had always been a group of confederates who felt that these kind of machinations, this, this sort of subterfuge would be effective, and among scholars there's a sort of spectrum of opinion as to how, first of all, how enthusiastic davis was about such schemes. and how serious they really were. but i think i agree with william c. davis, the scholar i quoted a number of times here, who
suggests that davis was ambivalent about these schemes. he didn't think that they were central, and secondly, that the men involved in these plots, the canadian agents and so on, were oftentimes improvising without direct orders from davis, and were generally quite feckless, and again, delusional. maybe that's putting it slightly too strongly. so, i think that there's -- there's a connection in that there's this long fascination with the possibility of subterfuge and of infiltration. but the confederates don't have the means or the men or the will to really do it. and they find, again and again when they do try to foment discontent in the north, that that the imagined anti-war northern tide that they hope to conjure into being doesn't
exist. so, these men are -- these men involved in these schemes are forced to conclude that much of this expectation of northern revulsion against lincoln has been -- has been trumped up. that they've fallen prey to a misreading of public opinion northern public opinion. yes? >> this will be the last question. >> sir? >> let's back up a bit. because eight months before the election is the kilpatrick-dahlgren raid. and the fuss over that lasted a few months. and it wasn't until after that the confederacy sent the agents to canada. so, would you like to comment on what -- >> so, the patrick dahlgren raid -- that is another one of these topics that is shrouded in uncertainty. so, dahlgren, a young union hothead, leads a raid, or that's how it's perceived on both
sides, leads a raid against the confederates. the exact purpose of the raid is not clear. he's killed. and the confederates claim to find on dahlgren's person papers suggesting that his mission was to assassinate jefferson davis and to infiltrate the confederacy. and they, in their anger at this, at this discovery, they mutilate dahlgren's body and they give him a dog's burial in an unmarked grave. and he becomes a cause celebre. these shows that the yankees are not fighting fair, and how, how, how barbaric to even contemplate assassination. now from the very start there was dispute about whether those orders that were found on dahlgren's person were legitimate or whether they were fabricated. and those debates continue among scholars. i can't help but take the opportunity to point out that
this becomes wrapped up in the activity of the unionist underground, to get back to the topic of southern unionism about which i wrote in "southern lady, yankee spy." unionists in richmond discerned the location of dahlgren's body. they have him disinterred and clandestinely moved to the farm of a unionist in virginia where he's given a proper burial surrounded by family and friends, or ersatz family, not his actual family, but well-wishers and friends. the controversy boils on dahlgren's father, who is a union admiral, and quite an eminent fellow, asks the confederate government if they could please return the body of his son to him. he begs the confederate government. the confederates say no but finally they relent and they say, okay, we'll give you the body back. and the confederates go to dig up dahlgren's body in the dog's grave and they find it's not there. that the unionist underground has moved it.
and this is one of many signs that the confederate government has that there is a unionist underground in richmond that is defying them, but that they can't seem to catch. so, it just speaks of the fact that there's -- that these questions of subterfuge are at work on both sides. the union's espionage operations in the early part of the war are poor and disorganized. they're quite feckless, to use that word again. but by the end of the war the union espionage machine is working quite well, represented by this unionist underground and the confederates are wringing their hands. thank you so much. [applause] >> >> you are watching american history t.v. 40 hours of programming every
weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter to keep up with the latest history news. each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. the city of new york collection contains 750,000 objects. we visited to learn about the exhibit, "gilded new york." my name is janine. i am one of the co-curators of "gilded new york," being shown at the museum of the city of new york. the show opened in november of 2013 and closes in october of 2014. in this beautiful jewel box of a gallery, we have assembled a variety of objects that help the public to appreciate what life was like for the 1% in the
original gilded age that followed the civil war from the 1880's through about 1910. that period was characterized by great wealth. in those days, the money came from various industries, mining, railroads, smelting iron, and also the rise of the modern corporation. all of those businesses yielded enormous wealth at the same time there was mass immigration, a time when new york was unified by all of its boroughs and the total population was over 3.5 million people. with that mixture of people, the lower classes, the rising upper class, there was this desire to set oneself apart from the teeming masses. and so, this 1% of people
decided to move up fifth avenue, establish their own homes import great works from europe and hire great american architects to design their homes and fashion their clothes and live their own beautiful life. >> our contemporary public is absolutely mesmerized by those who are glamorous, rich, famous, and beautiful. most of the materials in this gallery were owned by individuals who everybody in the emulated in their day. from our perspective, in our egocentric manner, we think we have invented the cult of celebrity and glamour. i think it is very important to note that we did not do it.
there was an echelon of social figures and theatrical figures who were constantly in the press, who are constantly interviewed, and whose clothing and jewels were described in great detail in the latter part of the 19th century. the public followed them just as feverishly as our public follows our contemporary celebrities. >> it was given as a gift by wealthy industrialist to an orthopedic surgeon. >> you have been watching a preview of our weekly half-hour american artifacts program. visit www.c-span.org/history for schedule information and to view programs online. >> you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join us to a conversation like us on facebook.