tv The Civil War CSPAN December 6, 2014 11:09pm-12:02am EST
the anti-war movement in the north. this was published by oxford university press in 2006, and actually has a forward by jennifer's mentor, james m. macpherson. so you can tell she comes from a quality line. her second book is actually geared for children, and this fact has won her a special place in the hearts of many of us in the lincoln group who really view the importance of sharing the story of lincoln and his heir, and our nation's history with our youngest americans. that story tells the battle of gettysburg and is called "summer's bloodiest days." jennifer actually right now is working on a book about conscription in the civil war area and the impact of conscription on the civil war north. she has also co-edited an anthology that honors her mentor, professor macpherson. she has talked quite a bit,
lectured throughout the country. lincoln's era and the politics of the era, and i'm sure this morning you're going to enjoy her talk. we heard copperheads referenced a lot this morning and this is the expert. having heard her talk on the subject several years ago, i know you're going to find this a very interesting and useful subject. so i'll turn this over to jennifer. [applause] >> good morning. thank you very much for coming out, and i'd like to thank the lincoln group, and karen needles for inviting me today. it's always a pleasure to be in d.c. so, today i'm going to be talking about the summer of 1864. the summer that lincoln lost the election. 1864 did not start out as a particularly bad year for abraham lincoln.
it actually started out reasonably well. the union armies were doing fairly well in the field, which was a key predictor of how the public was going to feel in the north. he did have some movement, politically, from freemont, and freemont supporters but he appeared to be in pretty good shape politically at the outset of the year. he helped himself considerably in march by appointing this man, ulysses s. grant, to take command of all the union armies. grant had become a hero in the west. he had performed extremely well out there and lincoln had decided to promote him to be the commander of all the armies and grant came back east to carry out that job.
he would travel with the army of the potomac, although he was not officially the commander of the army of the potomac. but he would certainly leave his mark on that army, and its doings for the rest of the war. in june, as we've discussed, lincoln was nominated by what was now called the union party. the republican party had changed its name for this one year. the union party, to be its nominee for re-election as president of the united states. so this all looked good. but at the same time that lincoln was nominated by the union party, grant was engaged in the overland campaign in central virginia. now this is really important.
grant is a tenacious general by any description. and here we see this play out in spades. because where previous commanders of the army of the potomac would either lose to lee or would come to a draw with lee and retreat. grant continues to pursue lee. and they do this dance, as you can see on this map, down virginia. they meet. often grant does not do particularly well but it doesn't matter. lee moves farther south, grant chases him. they meet again. they clash over and over again. this is an extremely bloody five or six weeks that takes place between may and june of 1864 and
over the course of this relatively short period of time, grant takes about 60,000 casualties. casualties are killed, wounded and captured. i'm not talking about 60,000 deaths. but 60,000 casualties is a lot. and this does not go over well with the northern public. this is really ugly. this is some of the ugliest fighting of the civil war. and that's saying something. for instance the battle of the wilderness, where a number of injured men are burned to death in a fire that is started by hot lead ammunition in the underbrush. it's really gruesome. the battle at spotsylvania, by
this time we're talking about trenches. there's hand-to-hand warfare for 13 hours in one phase of the battle at spotsylvania and the trenches fill with blood and men. blood and bodies. the northern public reads about this and is absolutely horrified at what is going on in their name in the field. here's a list of the casualties here, both union and confederate. going to have to get my glasses to read this. so the union is about 35,000, and the confederate is about 33,000.
this is -- it's just huge. grant had come in to this position in march. with the nickname of unconditional surrender grant. u.s. grant. unconditional surrender grant. after this campaign, his nickname changes to grant the butcher. lincoln is also held responsible for this. there's an editor in wisconsin who won't call lincoln lincoln anymore. he won't call lincoln the president anymore. he only refers to lincoln as the widowmaker or the orphanmaker. and that's the only way that he refers to lincoln. and what do we have to show for this horrendous blood letting? precious little. grant winds up in a siege in petersburg just south of richmond. he'll be in that siege for roughly the next nine months. things don't look that good for the other armies of the union
forces, either. in georgia, sherman is stuck outside of atlanta in another siege. in louisiana, the army there is sitting on its hands in new orleans after trying to make a move the red river. they're turned around, nathaniel banks and his men go back to new orleans. they're just there. they're not doing anything. you can imagine that how this looks to the northern public, which is war weary. it is sick of this. it doesn't -- many, many people in the north, even republicans, don't want to continue this war anymore. they just want it to end. and they blame lincoln for
keeping it going. because of his belief in emancipation. there's a widespread belief in the north not founded on any sort of evidence, but a widespread belief that if the north would just give up emancipation as a term of surrender, that the confederates would give up the fight and come back in the fold. that's not true. because jefferson davis has one war aim. and that is independence. lincoln has two. one is emancipation, and the other is reunion. reunion and independence are directly at odds. and neither man is going to give up his position. as long as these two men are in office, these two armies,
broadly speaking, are going to be at loggerheads. and the only way that this war is going to be decided is at the business end of a gun. there will be no negotiated peace with these two men in office. nevertheless, this is a widespread opinion in the north that if you just gave up emancipation the confederates would return. ok. horace greeley, the most prominent publisher arguably in the country, certainly the most prominent republican publisher at the time, he writes lincoln in july of 1864 with this plea. that is emblematic of this larger experience. our bleeding, bankrupt, almost
dying country, also longs for peace, shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood. that's pretty dramatic. but his opinion represents many in the north. as i said, including republicans which is quite interesting. greeley actually tries to get lincoln in on a scheme of his. he's been in discussions with a couple of men in canada. they're confederate agents, and they have told greeley that they are authorized to negotiate for peace. lincoln doesn't believe this. but he sent his personal secretary up to niagara on the canada side with greeley to talk to these men about brokering some sort of a peace deal. it very quickly becomes apparent
that they actually have no authority whatsoever to be having this conversation. greeley comes back to new york with his tail between his legs. but lincoln takes this opportunity to explain to the public that he has vees two war aims. and that unless these two aims are met, that he will continue to prosecute the war on the battlefield. he's hoping, in making this announcement, making this very clear again, to smoke out jefferson davis, and to get davis to say publicly that his war aim is independence. davis doesn't really bite on this. lincoln's idea was that if davis would just make this announcement, maybe the northern public would blame davis instead of lincoln as being the person
who was blocking a path to peace. that, however, doesn't happen. instead, northerners become increasingly sour over the course of the summer. on august 22nd -- and i don't normally pay, you know, a lot of attention to dates, but in this case i think the dates are quite fascinating, because a lot companies here in a really, really short period of time. on august 22nd, henry raymond, who is the editor of "the new york times" and the chairman of the republican party, writes a letter to lincoln, telling lincoln that he is going to lose the election.
that he's going to be really lucky to carry two or three states, and that among the states that he is going to lose is illinois, his own home state. he won't carry it. he suggests to lincoln that lincoln send a delegation south to meet with jefferson davis and to propose peace terms on the idea of reunion alone. now, i find this a really extraordinary moment. this is the chairman of the republican party, which had been founded only 10 years earlier on the explicit platform of being anti-slavery. and here they have emancipation in the palm of their hand, and this man, the chairman of the republican party, is talking
about letting it go. whether he is sincere or whether this is a ruse to get davis to tip his hand is unclear to me. but lincoln thinks about this. in fact, he writes out a memo to send somebody south to meet with jefferson davis. and as he often does, he puts it in one pigeon hole in his desk and he sleeps on it overnight. and he wakes up the next day and says that god would judge him for time and eternity if he betrayed his promise to the slaves. and so he doesn't. he doesn't send that memo, he doesn't send a delegation down south.
this is a moral decision on lincoln's part, this is a decision where he decides he's going to be right, rather than president. it's also a practical decision. because by this time, about 200,000 african-americans are in the united states military forces. the army and navy. that's about 10% -- 10%, i think of -- 20% of the total force. it's a significant amount of the american men in the field. if lincoln goes back on this promise of emancipation, what is going to hold these men in the field? nothing.
they're going to leave because they no longer have a promise of emancipation, either for themselves or for their families. their motivation is gone. there's nothing to fight for if he removes emancipation. so there's a really practical aspect of this as well. and remember, the army has been having an extremely difficult time raising men, even with a draft. for two years. so the presence of african-americans in the military is crucial for the war effort. so that memo goes away. what happens instead is that lincoln writes a memo to his cabinet. and in it he lays out a sketch of what he intends to do between november and march. the four months that he will be a lame duck, he anticipates. the four months between the time that the democratic candidate will have been elected and the time he takes office.
and lincoln sketches out this plan. he takes this piece of paper, and he folds it up. he puts it in an envelope. he seals the envelope, he takes it to a cabinet meeting. he asks all of his members to sign the envelope, without telling them what the contents are. sign the envelope and promise to carry out the instructions inside. and they do. so now we're talking around august 24th, 25th. on august 29th, the democrats meet in chicago. now what's been going on over the summer as things have not been going well for the union
militarily is that there is growing anti-war movement. more and more people are joining the ranks of the copperheads. the anti-war democrats over this -- over the course of this summer. they are at the pinnacle of their influence. they've been talking against the war since its outset, some of them. they've been joined, the ranks have been joined over the course of the war, over issues like habeas corpus, emancipation, and the draft. those alienate a lot of people who had been otherwise sitting on the fence, and they join the anti-war movement. but nothing like this summer has driven people into the ranks of the copperheads. they are so powerful at the time of this convention that the war democrats are really scrambling to try to hold them off.
to try to maintain a more moderate position. but they have to do some things to hold the copper heads at bay, to keep them from taking over the entire convention and running roughshod over the party as a whole. so, what the democrats do is they name george mcclellan, who they considered a war hero, and they fought with incredibly appealing to union soldiers, as their presidential nominee. their vice presidential nominee is george pendleton from ohio. is a committed and well-known copperhead. they also put this man on the platform committee.
clement vallandigham was the nation's most notorious copperhead. he had been a congressman from ohio from dayton when the war broke out. he had been gerrymandered out of his seat in 1862. he had gone home in the spring of 1863 and started making a lot of speeches in which he attacked the administration for its actions during the war, saying that what it had done was unconstitutional, that lincoln was a tyrant and a despot. this prompted the commander of the department of the ohio, ambrose burnside, to issue an edict saying that anybody who spoke out publicly against the administration would be tried as a traitor. free speech here is a dead
letter. valllandigham sees this edict as an opportunity. he is a smart guy, smart politician. he sees it as a chance to become a martyr for the cause and to go down the cause. cause.o down for the so he goes right back out, makes another speech in which he criticizes lincoln and the administration. and at 2:00 the next morning, the soldiers are at his door. they bundle him up. they give him just enough time to get dressed, they bundle him up, a small riot breaks out among his supporters, he's shipped off to cincinnati, where he is tried not in a regular court but a by military tribunal. found guilty and sentenced to spend the rest of the war in a
military prison. lincoln finds out about this the way that everybody else finds out about it, which is by reading the papers. and he is none too happy about this. it puts him in an extremely awkward position. republicans themselves are not very happy about this because they recognize this arrest for what it is, which is a gross infringement on free speech. it makes them look terrible. and so lincoln is left in a quandary. what to do? what do you do with this man? if you let him go, you undercut your general. if you leave him in prison, you make him a martyr. not that he's not enough of one already, but you make him more of one. and so he comes to a quintessentially lincolnian
solution which is both pragmatic and amusing. and that is if you like the south so much, fine. we're going to banish you there. so, vallandigham is sprung from prison. he's taken down to tennessee. he's taken almost to a confederate picket line in the dead of night and told to walk this way. some picket encounters him, and can you imagine being some, you know, private, an 18-year-old kid, and here's this guy who stumbles out of the dark, he's got this speech that he's rehearsed about how he's a political prisoner of abraham lincoln, blah, blah, blah. what do you do with this guy?
so he goes up the chain of command. he goes all the way to jefferson davis. he's taken to richmond, ultimately. he meets all these confederates along the way. they all tell him that what they want is independence. what the copperheads have been talking about is an immediate end to the war. an immediate halt. they never really say what the terms are that they would be willing to agree to in a peace negotiation, but they want an immediate end to the hostilities. when the confederates tell vallandigham that they want independence, they do not want to reunite with the north. the way that the copperheads keep thinking that they will. vallandigham pays no attention to them whatsoever.
what he does is essentially put his fingers in his ears and go, la la la la. and that's it. he discovers he doesn't really like the confederates. the confederates learn they don't really like him either. and so, after a month in the confederacy, vallandigham and the confederates come to an agreement that he will leave. and so he gets on a blockade runner that goes to the caribbean. he picks up another ship there and goes up to canada, and spends the next year or so in windsor, ontario. right across the detroit river from detroit. there is a union gun boat parked in the middle of the river as long as he is there with its guns trained on his front parlor. but he's having a lot of meetings with confederate agents, with copperheads. he is up to probably all kinds
of no good. but he wants to come home. he runs for governor of ohio in 1863. from windsor. the copperheads think he's going to win. because the soldiers will vote for him en masse because he wants an end to the war. he's going to stop it and release them from service. they completely misread the situation, not for the only time. vallandigham is crushed. in the november elections where he's running for governor in 1863. the soldier vote goes 95% against him. fast forward seven months. he sneaks back in to the united
states in june of 1864. lincoln gets all these notifications about it, what do we do? do we arrest him? lincoln says, no, just let him be. keep an eye on him, but just let him be. he is in chicago for the convention and he is put on the platform committee. he puts a plank in to the platform that calls the war a failure and demands an immediate cessation of hostilities. this is widely voted for. it has almost 100% support in the democratic convention that year. they love this idea. they think this idea is going to carry them to victory in november. they are really pretty sure that they've got this thing sealed
up. they also think it's not just this, but the fact that their candidate is this former general whose troops loved him. they don't realize that the troops don't love him anymore. they've sort of seen him for what he is. who the troops love is lincoln. they have come to identify very, very strongly with lincoln. and they're writing all these letters home saying if you don't vote for lincoln, i will disown you. i will never speak to you again. and they mean it. if you vote for a democrat, i will come home and hang you from the nearest tree. i don't care that we've been friends since we were 5. i'm doing that.
you need to honor my service by voting for this man. does the democratic platform acknowledge anything about the soldiers, their suffering, their service, anything? no. which they notice. and they are het up about it. but the democrats don't realize this. none of them. so they leave their convention on august 31st feeling fantastic. they are sure that they have this thing in the bag. they have no doubt that they are going to win this november election i a lot. a lot. it is going to be a landslide. people are so sick of this war. they're so sick of lincoln. they don't support emancipation. they hate the draft. nothing works. we're going to win big. and then you get this amazing turnaround.
it's really one of the most extraordinary moments in american political history. because on september 1, second, that night, the confederate army slips out of atlanta, and sherman takes it. and you have a 180 in public opinion, literally overnight. northerners get this news, all this negativity goes away. all the naysaying goes away. lincoln is their man. the union has won the war. what's left, the public thinks, is nothing more than a mop up operation. sheridan goes through the valley. great. that just supports their point of view. later on, sherman is going to
move through georgia, wipe it out, fantastic. more evidence that they're right. this is just a cleanup operation. we've won. and this is how lincoln goes in to his re-election. sherman hasn't started his march yet. he does that the day after the election. but northerners are buoyant after sherman takes atlanta. mcclellan understands that his own party, specifically the copperheads, have put a millstone around his neck. he tries to disavow that infamous plank. he tries to put distance between himself and it. he tries to talk about his
loyalty to his men, and how he will do right by them. but nothing works. certainly not in the wake of atlanta. his efforts are pathetic, and unconvincing, and sway nobody. mcclellan cannot get around his own platform. and so instead you see lincoln re-elected. in a landslide. he wins by something like 10 percentage points, if memory serves. and considerably more in the electoral vote. and there you have it. the election that lincoln was supposed to lose. the day after sherman leaves atlanta, nobody knows where he's going, but he's embarking on his
march across georgia. his march to the sea. lincoln's cabinet opens that memo. lincoln reads it to them. they all have a great laugh. but lincoln and his vision for the country and his vision for the war have been vindicated. and the template has been cast for how the war will end. and under what circumstances. and that is the vision that, in fact, we see on april 9th, 1865. thank you. [applause] we have a very enthusiastic hand shooting up back there. >> [inaudible] that was august of 1864, he comes to washington, he meets with lincoln, and he goes back
to new york now believing that it can succeed. that lincoln can succeed. what did lincoln say to raymond during that visit to change his mind? >> i'm not sure. i don't have the impression that raymond felt very good about lincoln's chances up until -- >> [inaudible] >> i'm not sure. >> i want to understand it better if you know. >> i don't. i don't know. i did not have the impression that he left washington feeling great. >> one comment on that question, and it was not just a meeting with lincoln. he also -- raymond also met with the key cabinet members, particularly stanton, and seward and wells.
and they all agreed that to retreat from the commitment to emancipation was going to be a disaster. and some said our base, our radical base, they're going to sit on their hands. and said to raymond, look, we can do this. and of course, the fortune of the war turned differently. but i have a question. were you familiar with, in the same period, lincoln's meeting with frederick douglass and what he asked frederick douglass to do? >> boy, again, this is not an element of lincoln's schedule that i'm familiar with. i did hear about this recently. what douglass, to the best of my memory, was with meeting with him about was, one, to, you
know, continue to support emancipation. but also pushing for voting rights. >> in addition, again, this is a wonderful period. lincoln asked frederick douglass to organize an underground movement in the south if he lost the election that would get as many slaves to escape as possible from the south, if he lost the election. and to have that underground movement in place in case the election went the wrong way. and that's an extraordinary covert assignment that douglass took on and was glad he didn't have to carry out. >> but, of course, this -- this would be in keeping with the emancipation proclamation itself, which was designed to go at the soft underbelly of the confederacy, which was slavery. the reason 80% of military age
white southern men can be in the military is because you have this huge workforce of 4 million people at home who can keep things going. half a million of them probably escaped, somehow, to liberty during the war. but that still leaves 3.5 million there working. so, yes, if you can get more of them to leave, you hamper the war effort for the confederates that much more. so that it is completely in keeping with lincoln's strategy of emancipation as a war measure. yes? >> how enthusiastically did democrats, including democratic newspaper editors --
>> it depended on who they were. the copperhead press supported it hands down through the whole campaign. and, in fact, they predicted universally that mcclellan would win. they did not see a loss coming at all. they lived in a world of -- i wouldn't say -- well, i would describe it as magical thinking. i don't know that they were delusional, quite, but magical thinking, i think, really describes their mindset. the war democrats, i think, are quicker to recognize that they have a big problem on their hands. they continue to support their man mcclellan because they will, but people who had initially been enthusiastic about this plank who were more moderate, who tended to be in the war democratic camp rather than the peace democrat camp, moved back
into the war democrat camp. they saw the writing on the wall and became more moderate again when the armies were winning. >> where in the north were the copperhead strongholds? >> so the question is where in the north were the copperhead strongholds? there are a couple ways to answer that. the first is there is a band in the lower midwest sort of along the ohio river, those states. the southern parts of indiana, illinois, and ohio where a lot of people had settled coming up from tennessee or kentucky. in iowa, along the rivers that come in off the mississippi, again, southern settlers in those areas. then you get the cities where immigrants settle. so new york has a lot.
boston has a lot. hartford, connecticut has a lot. including the father-in-law of samuel colt, who is making a fortune off of gun sales at the time. again, immigrant communities, people who don't support the war who really react against the draft. the mountain areas of pennsylvania, for instance, like clearfield county, the federal forces can't even get in there to support the draft law because it's so dangerous. they're going to get shot if they try to go in there. they're kind of dotted around, but predictably, what you can say is places where there is a
big southern influence or a big immigrant influence. yes? >> after 1864 when we left the war, what consequences were there for the copperheads politically in the years that followed? >> so the question is, what consequences were there for the copperheads politically after 1864? a lot of them remained politically active, but really seemed to suppress their activities during the war, kind
of forget that that had happened. the democratic party was not -- it certainly was viable at points in the rest of the 19th century but not consistently until woodrow wilson came into the presidency in 1912. i think that that's a lingering consequence of the war and that the democratic party, as the republicans said, had the smell of treason about their clothes. i think that as long as that civil war generation was alive, the democrats were really hampered by this. yes? >> obviously, the french and the british had some interest in how the war was going to turn out. was the diplomatic community in any way attempting to influence the election? >> no.
>> no? >> not that i'm aware of, at least. you have elements of british society that support the confederates, at least in theory. you've got this correspondent from the "london times" who is in the united states and writing articles that are very sympathetic to the confederacy. he's riding with lee's army on occasion. so you get that, but in terms of, you know, these machinations to swing the war -- election outcome one way or another, not that i'm familiar with. i've seen nothing on that. >> why were immigrants -- why did they tend to be against the war? >> i'm going to speak with a broad brush here. the question is, why were the immigrants opposed to the war?
certainly you see a number of germans and a number of irish joining up, so keep in mind, broad brush here. but for a lot of them, particularly the people who had come in the late 1840s, this huge surge of immigration, of germans who are fleeing the revolution in what is now germany, and the irish who are fleeing the potato famine. they come over in vast numbers. a lot of them are catholic. the germans speak a different language. americans don't respond very well to this. we have a long history of not responding well to large influxes of immigrants. and this is an early instance of this.
there is a nativist movement that comes about in response to that. there is a political party called the know nothings that is basically a nativist party. parts of that get merged into the republican party. also, you had a bunch of whigs who were involved in all these reform movements from the 1820s on to the time of the civil war, and in some cases, even beyond that. but some of those reform movements had seriously targeted the immigrants, and the immigrants wanted no part of it. the temparest movement is going after them for drinking. everybody knows that the irish and the germans, you know, they like a drink. to go after that cultural piece made the reformers not very welcome among immigrants.
or the idea that you want to do public education. great, what version of the bible are we going to be reading? the king james version, right, the protestant version. we don't want that, we're catholic. that's where you get parochial schools starting in large numbers in the united states. and where do the whigs go? these people are mostly whigs, the reformers. where do they go? well, they mostly go into the republican party. you see a lot of immigrants looking at this as a republican war. they want nothing to do with the republican party. they're members of the democratic party. they don't like the way they've been treated by people who are now in the republican party, and they don't think this is their
war. then there's the racial aspect of it that you see, particularly the irish, who are, let's say, working on the docks, who are afraid that if slaves are freed they're going to come up north and take their jobs. they're going to undercut them financially and take their jobs. and so there are multiple reasons for them not to be supporting this war effort or the republicans and in many cases, not all cases, they don't. anything else? >> thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] >> you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. join the conversation, like @cspanhistory.
>> each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern. next, university of michigan professor martha jones talked about the mid-19th century court case of celia, a female slave who killed her master after repeated sexual assaults. the class discusses what options she may have had, and the involvement of her fellow slaves and her master's white neighbors in her court case. that is about an hour and 20 minutes. >> today we will continue the discussion we were having, that we began a couple weeks ago, talking about the history of slavery, and in particular, of slave women.
we already had a chance to look at the case of harriet jacobs, one of the best remembered of the slave narratives. there, jacobs introduces us to that dimension of slavery that is exemplified, and we might say central to the experience of slave women and that is sexual violence. we will come back a little bit to talk about jacobs in comparison to our case today, that of celia. we also talked about wpa narratives, and one of the things we noticed is the extent some issues, including sexual violence -- violence generally, and sexual violence in particular -- was rather muted in the slave narratives. here we have the opportunity to take another pass at this question, to try to see this dimension of slavery through the experience of celia.
so, why do i say "try to see this dimension of slavery?" as you have all begun to see in your readings for today, there are many ways in which the record and the evidence upon which we rely to discover, explore, and understands the case of celia is a challenging record to make use of. part of our work today will be to talk about the evidence in the celia case, how it is we recover from what is in essence the record of a trial -- rather fragmentary, carefully, but idiosyncratically assembled testimonies, written and oral, arguments and conclusions of judges. that, mixed with newspaper reportage, some demographic material like census returns, how we take this fragmentary evidence and try to think in thoroughgoing ways about celia's
experience, but also how we can -- have to continue to think critically about the evidence we use, what it can tell us and perhaps what it cannot tell us about celia's story. you all have read milton mcmoran 's book and that is the popular ength treatment of celia's story, but i want to sketch out that narrative for the group as his of our discussion today. again, this comes as a fragmentary narrative, one driven by the court record, the legal artifact in the case. first, there is very little for us to say about celia's young life. we don't meet her in a formal sense in the historical rd