This Election Year

Woman making American Flag

Of the political writing abounding right now, this is among the very best which I have seen:


By Charles M Blow

New York Times, October 17, 2016

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He said on Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.

He also said of Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.

It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.

The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.


Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.

But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.

America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken

For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.

And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.

When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.

Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.

Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.

Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.



The Tyrant at the Gates


Trump, the tyrant at the gates

“Do you remember, your President Nixon? / Do you remember, the bills you have to pay / or even yesterday?” — David Bowie “Young Americans,” March 1975

It was an extraordinary thing to behold. A candidate for a major American political party stood on the stage at an American university during a televised debate and threatened to jail his opponent if he won the presidency.

This is what Third World despots do before their countries spiral into civil war. As an electoral gambit, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asked voters to endorse his political vendetta by promising that a guilty verdict for his Democratic opponent will be baked into whatever investigation his attorney general and special prosecutor hired to do the actual dirty work come up with.

It was a monumental display of his ignorance of U.S. history or the constitutional limits on presidential power. It was also a peek into what Mr. Trump’s governing style would be if ever given the opportunity to run our democracy into the ground as efficiently as the casinos and other businesses he’s failed at over the decades. He’s an autocrat unmoored from any sense of constitutional reality or history.

With morally dubious enablers like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani cheering him on, Donald Trump would transform the Oval Office into a venue for score-settling that wouldn’t stop with jailing Hillary Clinton.

Is there any doubt that the birther fever he has temporarily set aside would return, backed by the full fury of presidential authority? Within minutes of being sworn in, Donald Trump will order his Justice Department to begin scouring the academic and personal records of his predecessor for proof that he was the undercover Muslim operative born in Kenya the vindictive new president always believed him to be.

The autocratic style that has made him a terrible businessman, but a successful reality TV star, was on full display over a weekend that would have shattered a more conventional candidate’s sanity and political career. Mr. Trump’s use of four women from the Clintons’ past as stage props to highlight their exploitation of women was so grotesque and hypocritical that it was impossible to come up with a precedent in American history.

Even before the 11-year-old tape of Donald Trump’s sexual assault braggadocio became the weekend’s big story, the candidate had already declared his independence from any notion of judicial fairness on Friday by relitigating the 1989 Central Park Five case when he pronounced the exonerated men guilty as originally charged.

Though the five men received a settlement from New York City for $41 million for convictions that sent them to jail for as long as 12 years when they were teenagers for a brutal gang rape they did not commit, Mr. Trump still refuses to be swayed by the confession of the actual rapist or the DNA evidence. He stands by his original full-page ad in New York newspapers calling for the restoration of the death penalty so that it could be used on the five teenagers who were coerced by the police into the confessions despite the lack of physical evidence.

Mr. Trump has proved himself impervious to facts and laws that don’t fit his preconceived notion of justice. For him, justice is merely an extension of a brutal, all-encompassing will to power. The law is nothing more than what he says it is and the U.S. Constitution merely a wish list of conventional legal niceties he’s free to ignore.

As Donald Trump glowered and paced the stage Sunday night looking for any advantage over a foe he senses has already beaten him, the only thing he felt he could reasonably offer the American people in exchange for their precious votes was the promise of a return to the days when President Richard Nixon used government agencies to pursue vendettas. His was a promise to jail Hillary Clinton by hook or crook. It is morally indistinguishable from his insistence that the Central Park Five are guilty despite the evidence.

The scary thing is that such perversions of justice and blatant abuses of power do appeal to a segment of voters nostalgic for the kind of leadership Mr. Trump is willing to offer.

There are Americans who want to be ruled by a democratically elected despot who will patrol Washington on their behalf, rounding up and jailing those they believe once mocked and marginalized them. These are the people Donald Trump is depending on to turn out on Nov. 8 in sufficient numbers to plunge us into the Dark Ages.

September ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

General Sherman captures Atlanta and thereby provides a great boost to Lincoln’s campaign. Supporters such as Reverend Finney and George Templeton Strong feel increasingly optimistic about Lincoln’s re-election, the end of slavery and the conclusion of the war. On the international stage, Canada moves toward unification and the First International is formed in London, both events having effect upon the United States well into the twentieth century.

September 1– Thursday– Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada– Twenty-three delegates representing Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada [a union of Upper and Lower Canada created in 1841, now roughly equal to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec] meet to open a conference to consider the first steps toward confederation and the formation of modern Canada.

September 2– Friday– Atlanta, Georgia– Mayor James Calhoun and a small delegation ride out toward Union lines with a white flag to surrender. When they met a contingent of Federal troops Mayor Calhoun hands them a letter for General Sherman which simply says, “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.” By early afternoon, Union troops reach downtown, occupy the city hall and raise the flag of the United States which has not flown there in over three years.


September 3– Saturday– Lovejoy’s Station, Georgia– “Atlanta is ours and fairly won.” ~ Telegram from General Sherman to President Lincoln and the War Department.

September 3– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “New York City is shouting for McClellan, and there is a forced effort elsewhere to get a favorable response to the almost traitorous proceeding at Chicago. As usual, some timid Union men are alarmed, and there are some . . . who falter, and another set, like Greeley, who have an uneasy, lingering hope that they can yet have an opportunity to make a new candidate. But this will soon be over. The Chicago platform is unpatriotic, almost treasonable to the Union. The issue is made up. It is whether a war shall be made against Lincoln to get peace with Jeff Davis. Those who met at Chicago prefer hostility to Lincoln rather than to Davis. Such is extreme partisanism [sic]. . . This is the demon of party– the days of its worst form– a terrible spirit, which in its excess leads men to rejoice in the calamities of their country and to mourn its triumphs. Strange, and wayward, and unaccountable are men. While the facts are as I have stated, I cannot think these men are destitute of love of country; but they permit party prejudices and party antagonisms to absorb their better natures.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 3– Saturday– Stephenson’s Depot, Virginia– “We learn by the late papers that McClellan & Pendleton are the nominees of the Chicago Convention – I have not seen the Platform – but think it must be a peace one – Pendleton is a southern man in principle & it is thought he will be for peace – everything indicates a strong peace movement in the North & they may succeed in electing their candidates.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife Sara.


September 4– Sunday– New York City– Women working as seamstresses, making garments for Union soldiers, petition the Federal government for a fair wage for their work.

September 5– Monday– Atlanta, Georgia– “I think the military prospect is brightening and Mr. Lincoln will be re-elected, but, even if McClellan should be chosen, unless he repudiates every act and word of his past life, his course cannot be essentially different. It is quite remarkable how diametrically opposed McClellan’s course has been to that advocated by the present peace faction of the Democratic party.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

September 8– Thursday– Orange, New Jersey– “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, informing me of my nomination by the Democratic National Convention, recently held at Chicago, as their candidate at the next election for President of the United States. It is unnecessary for me to say to you that this nomination comes to me unsought. I am happy to know that when the nomination was made, the record of my public life was kept in view. . . . The existence of more than one Government over the region which once owned our flag is incompatible with the peace, the power, and the happiness of the people. The preservation of our Union was the sole avowed object for which the war was commenced. It should have been conducted for that object only and in accordance with those principles which I took occasion to declare in active service. Thus conducted, the work of reconciliation would have been easy, and we might have reaped the benefits of our many victories on land and sea. . . . A vast majority of our people, whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace, on the basis of the Union under the Constitution without the effusion of another drop of blood. But no peace can be permanent without union. . . . Believing that the views here expressed are those of the Convention and the people you represent, I accept the nomination. I realize the weight of the responsibility to be borne, should the people ratify your choice. Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of the Ruler of the Universe, and, relying on His all-powerful aid, do my best to restore union and peace to a suffering people, and to establish and guard their liberties and rights.” ~ Letter from George B. McClellan to the Democratic National Committee, accepting the nomination.

September 9– Friday– New York City– “McClellan’s letter of acceptance is in the morning papers. Will it help much? It is made up of platitudes floating in mucilage, without a single plain word against treason and rebellion. It has no ring of true metal, and no suggestion of magnetic power in word, phrase, or thought. . . . Now that Atlanta has fallen, rebel newspapers discover that it was not worth holding and declare that Sherman’s occupation of it is quite a blow top the Federal cause and equivalent to a rebel victory. Nothing is so characteristic of Southerners as brag (self-assertion, tall talking, and loud lying).” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


September 9– Friday– New York City– “I have no doubt but the enemy are exceedingly anxious to hold out until after the Presidential election. They have many hopes from its effects. They hope a counter-revolution. They hope the election of the peace candidate. . . . Our peace friends, if they expect peace from separation, are much mistaken. It would be but the beginning of war, with thousands of Northern men joining the South because of our disgrace in allowing separation. To have ‘peace on any terms,’ the South would demand the restoration of their slaves already freed; they would demand indemnity for losses sustained, and they would demand a treaty which would make the North slave-hunters for the South; they would demand pay for the restoration of every slave escaped to the North.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S Grant to Elihu B Washburne, Republican Congressman from Illinois and a strong supporter of President Lincoln, quoted in today’s New York Times.

September 9– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “The success of Sherman at Atlanta, following on that of Farragut at Mobile, has very much discomposed the opposition. They had planned for a great and onward demonstration for their candidate and platform, but our naval and army successes have embarrassed them exceedingly. General McClellan, in his letter of acceptance, has sent out a different and much more creditable and patriotic set of principles than the convention which nominated him; but the two are wholly irreconcilable.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 13– Tuesday– New York City– “A great and decisive battle may be fought in Virginia before this week ends. There will be a murder grim and great, for Lee’s hungry cohorts will fight their best. Hundreds or thousands of men, enlisted to maintain and enforce the law of the land, will perish by the violence of masterful rebels. Our Copperheads . . . Peace Democrats and the candidates and leaders, McClellan and George H Pendleton . . . are answerable for the death of every national soldier who dies in his duty.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


September 13– Tuesday– Oberlin, Ohio– ” We are progressing hopefully & I think surely to the total extinction of slavery & to the subjugation of the rebel territory. Our army & navy are victorious & the end can not be far distant. It is a great wheel & at least appears to people abroad to move slowly. But in fact progress has been astonishingly rapid. To us who know what has to be done & what has been accomplished the changes have been unparalleled in the world’s history both in magnitude & in rapidity. We are now once more & I trust for the last time to have a political contest with the sympathies with rebellion at the north. I feel confident that the right will triumph & that in this political triumph that corrupt party [the Democratic] that was so long in league with the slave power had every thing in [the ] wrong way, will be finally used up.” ~ Letter from Reverend Charles G Finney to Robert and Elizabeth Best.

September 15– Thursday– New York City– “It seems impossible for the Democratic party to get rid of the idea that the main and everlasting aim and end of its existence is the defense of Slavery. Don Quixote was not more eager to rush to the aid and risk his life in the defense of forlorn and abused damsels of high degree, than the Democratic party has been at all times, and it seems still is, to rush to the defense of the old hag and harlot of Slavery.” ~ New York Times.

September 17–Saturday–Nahant, Massachusetts–John C Fremont withdraws as a candidate for president.

September 17– Saturday– New York City– “It’s certainly hard to vote for sustaining an Administration of which Stanton is a member. . . . Still it is a plain duty to uphold Lincoln, even with this millstone round his neck, as against the Chicago platform, McClellan and Pendleton.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


September 17– Saturday– Rochester, New York– “I, like many other radical men, freely criticized, in private and in public, the actions and utterances of Mr. Lincoln, and withheld from him my support. That possibility is now no longer conceivable; it is now plain that this country is to be governed or misgoverned during the next four years, either by the Republican Party represented in the person of Abraham Lincoln, or by the (miscalled) Democratic Party, represented by George B. McClellan. With this alternative clearly before us, all hesitation ought to cease, and every man who wishes well to the slave and to the country should at once rally with all the warmth and earnestness of his nature to the support of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and to the utter defeat and political annihilation of McClellan and Pendleton; for the election of the latter, with their well known antecedents, declared sentiments, and the policy avowed in the Chicago platform, would be the heaviest calamity of these years of war and blood, since it would upon the instant sacrifice and wantonly cast away everything valuable, purchased so dearly by the precious blood of our brave sons and brothers on the battlefield for the perfect liberty and permanent peace of a common country.” ~ Letter from Frederick Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison.

September 20– Tuesday– New York City– “Hurrah for Sheridan and Sherman! If Grant can but do as well as his lieutenants have done, the rebellion will be played out before November. The military value of this victory is great but it is worth still more as influencing the political campaign and contributing to the determination of the fearful issue that campaign is to decide: nationality or anarchy.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 21– Wednesday– New York City– “Sheridan seems doing much to help our defense. His victory of the 19th grows bigger and higher as we learn more about it and about his way of following it up. It was a hard-fought battle, decided at last by a heavy cavalry charge.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


September 21– Wednesday– Washington, D. C.– “The victory of Sheridan has a party-political influence. It is not gratifying to the opponents of the Administration. Some who want to rejoice in it feel it difficult to do so, because they are conscious that it strengthens the Administration, to which they are opposed. The partisan feeling begins to show itself strongly among men of whom it was not expected. . . . Some attempt is made by the Richmond papers to help the cause of McClellan by an affectation of dread of his superior military attainments and abilities and his greater zeal for the Union. The effort is so bald, so manifestly intended for their sympathizing friends, that no one can be deceived by it. There was a time when such stuff had a market in the North, but that time has gone by.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

September 23– Friday– Augusta, Georgia–”The doctrine of self government I suppose of course to be right and yet our Southern people do not appear to have learned the art, even if they had the right granted them. Where is there more power exercised than is displayed in the manner in which our Generals are ‘relieved’? But as to the doctrine of slavery altho I have read very few abolition books (Uncle Tom’s Cabin making most impression) nor have I read many pro slavery books, yet the idea has gradually become more and more fixed in my mind that the institution of slavery is not right . . . . During my comparatively short life, spent wholly under Southern skies, I have known of and heard too much of its demoralizing influence to consider the institution a blessing.” ~ Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas.


September 25– Sunday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “With Sherman’s success in Georgia– Farragut’s at Mobile– Sheridan’s in the Shenandoah Valley—the death of General Morgan and other minor successes of the Federals—it is no wonder we feel gloomy. . . . Well, it grows harder and harder with us, oh! I dread this coming winter. . . . Great Heaven! when shall we have rest and peace? Will it ever come in our day? I am becoming a sad-souled woman– full of secret sorrows– full of heart-burnings, full of longing for the great and good– full of impatience and repining at the chains, the iron chains of everyday circumstance which bind me back from all that my better nature aspires to!” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

September 28– Wednesday– London, England– A varied assortment of leftists and radicals from England, Ireland, France, Germany, Poland and Italy meet at St Martin’s Hall. They form the International Workingmen’s Association [a/k/a The First International, which will function in various states of turmoil until 1876].

Late September ~ Election Year 1876

Woman making American Flag

By the end of September, the race for president is intensely competitive. With five weeks to go before election day, the Democrats have high hopes of winning the presidency.

Around the world, warfare and strife draw little attention from Americans. The Ottoman sultan was deposed in May and his nephew Abdul Hamid II now rules and will remain on the throne until 1909. The new sultan faced rebellion in the Balkans from Bulgarians and Serbs but now the bloody repression by Turkey is complete. British newspapers and a booklet by former prime minister William Gladstone stir up anger against Turkey as the atrocities come to light. Ethiopia and Egypt are engaged a year-long war. In Europe, Russia has a standing army of 3,360,000 soldiers; Germany, 2,800,000 soldiers; France, 412,000 soldiers; Great Britain, 113,000 soldiers. However, Britain has the most powerful navy in the world, with 248 warships and 54,400 sailors. In November, 1875, Britain obtained control of the Suez Canal by purchasing all the shares owned by the Khedive of Egypt who was deeply in debt.

King Leopold II of Belgium hosts the Brussels Geographic Conference on the subject of colonizing and exploring central Africa and leads the formation of the International Association for the Exploration and Civilization of Africa, which will primarily benefit the imperialist aims of European powers.

The defeat of General Custer in June created much anti-Indian feeling and U S Army operations on the Great Plains continue against a number of Native American nations. In Arizona Territory many Chiricahua Apaches are forced on to a reservation; however, a band of warriors led by Geronimo, age 47, flee into Mexico and will carry on guerrilla warfare against Mexicans and Americans for the next ten years. Military personnel on active duty include 28,565 in the Army, 10,046 in the Navy and 1,980 in the Marine Corps.


The Republican ticket is headed by Rutherford Hayes (age 54) and William Wheeler (age 57). Hayes, a native of Ohio, is a graduate of Kenyon College, a lawyer, politician, served in the Union Army and in Congress, and is governor of Ohio. His support at the convention came from men such as John Sherman, James Garfield and Carl Schurz. Wheeler, a native of New York, is a lawyer and politician, a recent childless widower, his wife having died only a few months ago, and a relative unknown selected as a compromise candidate by rival Republican factions.


The Democratic ticket is headed by Samuel Tilden (age 62) and Thomas Hendricks (age 57). Tilden, a native of New York, is a lawyer, activist in Democratic politics, reformer of New York City politics and has served as governor of the state since the election of 1874. Hendricks, born in Ohio, has lived in Indiana since being age 1, graduated from Hanover College, is a lawyer, served in the U S Senate from 1863 to 1869 where he constantly criticized Lincoln’s Administration and opposed emancipation as well as the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, and became governor of Indiana.

Republican strategy & campaign issues: Denouncing the Democrats; support for civil rights; promise to fulfill pledges to Union Civil War veterans; support protective tariffs; see that public land is divided and distributed to homesteaders, not railroads and big corporations; “waving the bloody shirt” by continuing to blame the Democrats for causing the Civil War, keeping the war as key issue in front of veterans and those who lost loved ones. “Not every Democrat was a rebel, but every rebel was a Democrat. Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery better than liberty was a Democrat.”


“What the South most needs is peace, and peace depends upon the supremacy of law. There can be no enduring peace, if the constitutional rights of any portion of the people are habitually disregarded. A division of political parties, resting merely upon distinctions of race, or upon sectional lines, is always unfortunate, and may be disastrous.” ~ Rutherford B. Hayes.

Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass supports the Republican ticket. Republican literature includes portraits of Lucy Webb Hayes, age 45, active Methodist and temperance advocate, mother of 5 children who survived to adulthood and 3 who died in infancy, and helped establish a home for the orphans of soldiers at Xenia, Ohio, while her husband was governor of Ohio.


Democratic strategy and campaign issues: Advocacy of honest, efficient government as opposed to the Grant administration’s corruption; an end to “the rapacity of carpetbag tyrannies” in the South; restrict immigration from Asia, particularly China; tariff reform; opposition to land grants to railroads; civil service reform; ending Reconstruction by the withdrawal of Federal troops from the states of the former Confederacy. “Sound currency, An Honest Administration, Economy & Reform Will Bring Prosperity.”

“I have always thought that only as a Democrat, reflecting Jefferson and Jackson, could justice ever be done the people because, at this moment in history, ours is the only party which is even faintly responsive to the force of ideas.” ~ Samuel Tilden.

Third Party candidates:

Greenback Party~ Peter Cooper and Samuel F. Cary. Cooper, age 85, a New York native, is an inventor, industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist who seeks a balanced federal budget and relief for the poor. Cary, age 62, a native Ohio, is a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University, a lawyer, temperance advocate and politician.

Prohibition Party~ Green Clay Smith and Gideon T. Stewart. Smith, age 50, a native of Kentucky, is a graduate of Transylvania (Kentucky) University, a veteran of the Union Army, politician, lawyer, Baptist minister and temperance advocate. Stewart, age 52, born in New York, is an Ohio lawyer, newspaper owner and publisher, and active temperance advocate.

The American National Party~ James B. Walker and Donald Kirkpatrick. [Very little is known about these two men.]

1876 Election: The 'Reformed' Democratic Ticket of Hendricks-Tilden

1876 Election: The ‘Reformed’ Democratic Ticket of Hendricks-Tilden

Registered voters number 10,291,759– approximately 22.5% of the total population as women are not enfranchised. Less than 30% live in urban areas. Children age 14 and under constitute approximately 4.5% of the population and 0.5% of the population are age 60 and older. Women account for 49.4% of the population. Over 16% of the total population earn their living on farms while only 5.8% of the total population earn a living in manufacturing. The six New England states hold 8.8% of the population; New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania combined have 22.1% of the population; 10.3% live in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida combined; Texas has 2.0%; the three states of the Pacific coast combined have 1.7% of the total population.

In the Electoral College system, there are 369 votes this year and a candidate must have 185 of them to win the presidency. Based upon population, the states with the largest votes in the Electoral College are New York-35, Pennsylvania-29, Ohio-22, Illinois-21, Indiana-15, Missouri-15, Massachusetts-13, Kentucky-12, Tennessee-12, Michigan-12. The candidate who can win these states would be within 10 electoral votes of winning. Both major parties believe that they can do this.

September ~ Election Year 1860


Republican candidate Lincoln and his supporters increase campaign activities. Slavery remains a key issue with many abolitionists not yet supportive of the Republican cause. The Prince of Wales is touring the United States, a contact with Great Britain which will be of increasing significance in the next four years. Italy moves to unification. The American mercenary Walker is tried and executed.

September 1– Saturday– Springfield, Illinois– “The point you press– the importance of thorough organization– is felt, and appreciated by our friends everywhere. And yet it involves so much more of dry, and irksome labor, that most of them shrink from it– preferring parades, and shows, and monster meetings. I know not how this can be helped. I do what I can in my position, for organization; but it does not amount to so much as it should.” ~ Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Wilson.


September 2– Sunday– Washington, D.C.– Roman Catholic churches here raise money to send to Pope Pius IX who is seen as in trouble from Garibaldi and the movement for Italian unification.

September 3–Monday– Tinto River, Honduras– Pressed by a combined Honduran and British military force, William Walker surrenders to Commander Salmon of the Royal Navy. Salmon reports that Walker does so unconditionally.

September 4–Tuesday– Detroit, Michigan–Speaking to a large gathering at a railroad yard, Senator William Seward gives an energetic speech supporting Lincoln and other Republicans.

September 4– Tuesday– Springfield, Illinois–”Yours of the 29th is received; and I presume I understand what has prompted you to write it. In 1832 I was first a candidate for the Legislature, with some ten or a dozen other candidates. Peter Cartwright, and three others were elected, of whom I was not one. In 1834 he, and I, and several others, again become candidates; he declined before the election, I saw the race through, and, with three others, was elected. In 1835 he became a candidate to fill a vacancy in the State Senate, and his sole competitor, Job Fletcher, beat him by near six hundred majority. In 1836, 1838, & 1840, I was successively elected to the Legislature– he not being a candidate at either of those elections. I then ceased to be a candidate for anything till 1846, when I ran for Congress. Mr. Cartwright was my competitor, and I beat him, as I recollect 1511 majority, being about double the party majority of the District. I was never a candidate for congress at any other time, and never had any contest with Mr. Cartwright other than as I have stated.” ~ Letter from Lincoln to John Coulter.


September 5– Wednesday– Jersey City, New Jersey– New Jersey Republicans held a massive evening meeting. After a torch-lit parade, Senator John Ten Eyck speaks, warning all party members to be watchful of Democratic attempts at electoral fraud. Governor William Pennington urges everyone to work to make sure of a Republican victory in November. Newspaper reports put the crowd at more than 6,000 people, the largest such gathering on record up to that time.

September 6–Thursday– Cedarville, Illinois– Birth of Jane Addams, social worker, peace activist, author, lecturer, advocate for immigrants, suffrage activist, first president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1931, a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and a reformer. [Dies May 21, 1935.]


Jane Addams


September 6–Thursday– Baltimore, Maryland– Senator Douglas speaks for two hours to a large crowd of his supporters. He attacks Breckinridge, saying that without Breckinridge’s interference, he could readily beat Lincoln in every state with the exception of Vermont and Massachusetts.

September 6– Thursday– Sacramento, California– With the state Democratic Party irrevocably split, the Douglas loyalists, claiming to be the true Democratic Party, close their two day convention, endorsing the Douglas ticket and the national platform passed in Baltimore. They also strongly condemn the withdrawals at the national conventions which resulted in the alternative nomination of Breckinridge.

September 7–Friday–Boston, Massachusetts–Garrison pokes fun at the Democrats and President Buchanan in the current issue of The Liberator. Under the headline “Lost: One Cent Reward,” he describes the Democratic Party as lost on the road between Charleston and Baltimore and last seen running after a fugitive slave. “The stock in trade being hopelessly lost, the above reward will be paid by James Buchanan, Caleb Cushing, Benjamin D. Butler, Assignees.”

September 7–Friday– Greenwhich, New York– Birth of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, who will become known as the painter “Grandma Moses.” [Dies December 13, 1961.]


Anna Robertson Moses as a child


September 7–Friday– Harrisburg, Pennsylvania–Hard on the campaign trail, Senator Douglas arrives here by rail from Baltimore. On the way, he stopped at York, Pennsylvania where he spoke to 3000 people. Here he meets with Democratic leaders and gives a speech in the evening to a crowd of several thousand.

September 8– Saturday– Trujillo, Honduras–In negotiations with Honduran military and political leaders, Commander Salmon surrenders William Walker to them in return for safe passage home for the other American mercenaries.


William Walker, mercenary


September 8–Saturday– New York City–Today’s Herald quotes William H Seward’s recent speech in Lansing, Michigan in which he said, “I favor . . . the decrease and diminution of African slavery in all the states.”

September 10– Monday– Augusta, Maine– In a heavy voter turn-out, Republicans win all state offices with significant majorities. Israel Washburn, Jr, age 47 and a founder of the Republican Party in the state, is easily elected as governor, beating Democrat Ephraim K Smart, age 47.


September 11– Tuesday– Albany, New York– As many as 4,000 men parade in support of the Republican ticket.

September 12– Wednesday– Trujillo, Honduras–Authorities court-martial William Walker and execute him by firing squad. Walker is 36 years old.

September 13–Thursday– Laclede, Missouri–Birth of John J Pershing, who will have an important career in the U S Army, including command of American forces in France during 1917 and 1918. [Dies July 15, 1948.]

September 13–Thursday– Fort Worth, Texas–A white mob breaks into the jail and lynches Anthony Bewley, a fifty-six year old white Methodist preacher accused of violent abolitionism and inciting slave insurrection.

September 14–Friday– Upstate New York–Traveling with his wife, Senator Douglas speaks in five towns in the region.


September 14– Friday– New York City– “I don’t know clearly on which side to count myself in. I’ve a leaning toward the Republicans. But I shall be sorry to see Seward and Thurlow Weed with their profligate lobby men promoted from Albany to Washington. I do not like the tone of the Republican papers and party in regard to the John Brown business of last fall, and I do not think rail-splitting in early life a guarantee of fitness for the presidency. . . . But I can’t support . . . Douglas, the little giant, for I hold the little giant to be a mere demagogue. As to Breckenridge, the ultra Southern candidate, I renounce and abhor him and his party. He represents the most cruel, blind, unreasoning, cowardly absolute despotism that now disgraces the earth.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 14– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Prince of Wales and the Colored People of Canada– An address of welcome and congratulation was presented to the Prince of Wales by the colored citizens, on His Royal Highness’s arrival in Montreal. At a recent meeting of the colored people of Toronto, the following resolutions were moved and unanimously adopted: Resolved, That appreciating, as we do, the visit of the Prince of Wales to this and other parts of the British dominions, we do with all loyalty to our Severing Lady the Queen, as a free people, escaped from slavery, deem it our duty to appoint a committee to wait upon His Royal Highness, and present him with a suitable address, such as would be creditable to ourselves and those connected with us at large. Resolved, That as freemen we are willing to show all classes in this noble Province, that we will not be behind them in coming forward to show our Queen’s Representative, the Prince of Wales, all the loyalty we can bestow. Resolved, That if her Majesty the Queen, from invasion, or rebellion, or otherwise, should require the services of the colored inhabitants of the British Provinces, we will be ready to assist, with our fellow inhabitants, in maintaining the integrity of the Mother Country both at home and abroad.” ~ The Liberator

September 15– Saturday– Charleston, South Carolina– The Army Corps of Engineers begins repairs on Fort Sumter.

September 17– Monday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Democrats hold a large rally

September 18–Tuesday– Rochester, New York–After his well-attended speech, Senator Douglas is honored at night by torch-light parade through the downtown.

September 20– Thursday– Detroit, Michigan–The mayor of the city and the governor of Michigan greet the Prince of Wales as he arrives from Windsor, Ontario, to begin his historic visit to the United States.


September 20– Thursday– Springfield, Illinois– “Yours of the 17th is just received. Here, in Illinois, we are precisely in the condition you seem to understand– safe, as we think, on the National and State tickets, but in danger as to the Legislature. How the National committee can do anything in the premises I do not quite understand; tho, on this point I would refer to Mr. Judd. I shall confer with some friends, and write you again soon– saying no more now that, in my opinion, no one thing will do us so much good in Illinois, as the carrying of Indiana at the October election. The whole surplus energy of the party throughout the nation, should be bent upon that object up to the close of that election. I should say the same of Pennsylvania, were it not that our assurances seem so abundant of Curtin’s election there. If I might advise, I would say, bend all your energies upon Indiana now.” ~ Letter from Lincoln to E D Morgan, Republican National Chairman.

September 21–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Today The Liberator reports on the activities of the abolitionist activist William Wells Brown, himself an escaped slave who has been in Vermont for four weeks. He comments that he finds the most illiterate and ignorant people in the Democratic party. He tells of a series meetings in a number of towns In one place he could not find a hotel in which he could stay. “Still, there are many warm hearts in the Green Mountain State, who are anxious to have the American Anti-Slavery Society send in an agent or two, to lecture in all the towns. Vermont is certainly a good field for missionary labor.”


September 22– Saturday– Dwight Station, Illinois–The Prince of Wales begins four days of rest and quiet on the farm of Charles Spencer, one of the town’s founders.

September 23–Sunday– St Joseph, Missouri–Senator William Seward encourages a crowd of 2000 people to support Lincoln.

September 25–Tuesday– Off the coast of West Africa–A U S warship captures the slaver Cora with a cargo of 705 slaves.

September 26–Wednesday– Lawrence, Kansas– Senator Seward receives a hero’s welcome in this center of free soil Kansas. Several thousand people listen attentively to his rousing speech recounting the efforts Kansas is making to reject slavery and enter the Union as a free state. When he asks them to vote for the Republican ticket his audience claps and cheers.

September 28– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “If . . . the Republican party shall succeed in getting the rein of government into its own hands, and preserving the Territories absolutely and beyond a peradventure from the designs of the Slave Power, it will do no slight service to the cause of freedom; and to that extent, and for that reason, it has our sympathies and best wishes as against its three antagonistically and thoroughly pro-slavery rivals. If this is our view of the present political struggle, it may be asked why we do not espouse the Republican party, and urge abolitionists to vote for its candidates. Our answer is, that the greater includes the less, and the immediate abolition of slavery is a matter of incomparably greater concern than an effort simply to prevent its extension; that ‘an ounce of remedy is worth a pound of cure’; that the slave-holding guarantees of the Constitution are such as morally to vitiate that instrument, and no party can be justified on any presence in swearing to uphold it; that the North ought to take disunion ground at once, in order to clear her skirts of blood-guiltiness, instead of remaining an accomplice in slaveholding where it now exist at the South; that the result of such disunion must inevitably and speedily be the extinction of the slave system universally; and that to make no compromise with oppressors is to do the highest service to all classes and all interest in the land. It is not necessary for us to elucidate these points in this connection, as it is our constant aim to show that upon the Northern banner should be inscribed the motto, ‘No Union with Slaveholders!’and the battle carried to the gate.” ~ The Liberator


William Lloyd Garrison


September 29– Saturday– Cleveland, Ohio– “A call is issued for a meeting of the Bell-Everett party in this city, the alleged object of the meeting being the establishment of a Bell-Everett Club. We warn such of the old Whigs as may be inclined to favor the Bell movement, that such a ‘Club’ will be used for no other purpose than to dash out their own brains. In Ohio, as in other Northern States, the real object of the wire-workers in the Bell-Everett movement is the election of Douglas. The men who are controlling the movement are Douglas men, open or disguised. Some of them make no scruple of avowing their only intention to be the distraction of the Republican party, and the election of Douglas. They are to be found on the platform at Douglas meetings, and are in the counsels of the Douglas leaders, and are aided and abetted in their efforts by Douglas presses. We cannot believe that any of the gallant band of old Whigs will allow themselves to be humbugged in this manner. The men who at the name of Henry Clay felt their blood stirred as at a trumpet call to action, will never act as the allies of the man who stigmatized their pure and patriotic leader as a ‘black hearted traitor.’ That Henry Clay Whig, who, by diverting a vote from Abraham Lincoln, the warm friend of Henry Clay, aids the election of Stephen A. Douglas, his bitter enemy, assents to the villainous abuse which that arch-demagogue heaped on the Sage of Ashland.” ~ The Cleveland Herald.

September ~ Election Year 1856

Woman making American Flag

Perhaps with an eye on advancement within the party, Lincoln works quite actively for the the Republican ticket. Radical abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison find no satisfaction with the Republicans or the Democrats or the Whigs, calling for the total and immediate end of slavery. Some fear dissolution of the country by Southern secession.

September 4– Thursday– Atlanta, Illinois– Attorney Abraham Lincoln delivers a speech in support of Fremont to a large crowd.


September 5– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “If those who are so anxious to know what is our position in regard to the approaching presidential election would but consult a single number of The Liberator,(or, better still, subscribe for the paper for a limited period,) they would need no letters from us to enlighten them in the manner solicited. Our Meadville correspondent is confident that our views are much misrepresented, and he is right in his belief. By pseudo-Democratic journals, we are charged with advocating the election of Fremont; and by the Republican organs, we are held up as the partisans of Buchanan! The falsehood and dishonesty of such representations are well understood by those who put them in circulation. For more than a dozen years, we have uniformly reprobated all political action under the Constitution of the United States, and at all times branded that instrument as ‘a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,’—strenuously and solemnly urging upon the people of the North the duty of dissolving this blood-stained union, by the highest moral and religious considerations,—and, therefore, beseeching every true friend of freedom to stand outside of the government, and labor for its overthrow—thus nobly acting upon the doctrine and advice of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that ‘when any form of government becomes destructive,’ of the ‘inalienable rights’ set forth in that document, ‘it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,’ and ‘to provide new guards for their future security.’ Of course, entertaining such sentiments and avocation such a procedure as the test of fidelity to the cause of the oppressed, we are neither for Fremont, nor Buchanan, nor Fillmore, nor any other person to fill the Presidential chair, but for DISUNION as the great and first duty to be performed—as the only issue which can prevail against the Slave Power, and give liberty to the millions in bondage.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison’s editorial in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 6– Saturday– Jacksonville, Illinois– Lincoln delivers a speech urging support for Fremont and encouraging anti-slavery Democrats not to vote for Buchanan but to support Fremont.


Lawyer Lincoln


September 8– Monday– Springfield, Illinois– “I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to you that every vote withheld from Fremont, and given to Fillmore, in this state, actually lessens Fillmore’s chance of being President. Suppose Buchanan gets all the slave states, and Pennsylvania, and any other one state besides; then he is elected, no matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore gets the two slave states of Maryland and Kentucky; then Buchanan is not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives, and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose again Fillmore’s friends throw away a few thousand votes on him, in Indiana and Illinois, it will inevitably give these states to Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the loss of Maryland and Kentucky; will elect him, and leave Fillmore no chance in the House of Representatives or out of it. This is as plain as the adding up of the weights of three small hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Illinois for himself, it is plainly his interest to let Fremont take it, and thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this race. Let him have Illinois, and nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois, if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some one persuade, you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense! There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing Buchanan, only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the proportion of the voters. If not, tell me why. Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two at least, are supported, in part, by the Buchanan men, as I understand. Do not they know where the shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore they help it. Do think these things over, and then act according to your judgment.” ~ Form letter from Abraham Lincoln sent to Fillmore supporters.

September 10– Wednesday– New York City– “It’s said a Fremont electoral ticket will be run in several Southern states, including Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. It probably won’t be permitted by the oligarchy of little barbarous princes to which the white trash of the South is subject.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


George Templeton Strong


September 11– Thursday– New York City– “Long discourse with Walter Cutting . . . [who] considers that the South will secede if Fremont’s elected. Which the South won’t, as long as Southern gentlemen can make a little money going to Congress.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 12– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Every Presidential campaign is a time of temptation and peril to these who are sincerely laboring for the abolition of slavery is our land; because there is always same difference in the candidates put in nomination, and in the position of the rival parties, touching the great question at large; and it is scarcely possible to see such a struggle, without wishing success to one side, and hoping for the defect of the other. Where the lines are broadly drawn—where a geographical conflict in going on, (made so by the Slave Power itself in its effort to extend its domains indefinitely,)—as at the present time, the temptation to join the party which is struggling for the right, and to achieve a most desirable victory, become irresistible to many, whose abhorrence of slavery cannot be doubted, but whose moral philosophy is to some extent defective, or who are unable to take broad and comprehensive views of the whole subject, or who are impelled by their feeling rather then by a clear perception of duty. As against Buchanan and Fillmore, it seems to us, the sympathies and best wishes of every enlightened friend of freedom must be on the side of Fremont; so that if there were no moral barrier to our voting, and we had a million votes to bestow, we should cast them all for the Republican candidate. We hail the results of the resent selections in Iowa, Vermont and Mains as cheering proofs of a growing change in public sentiment at the North, favorable to the cause of freedom generally; and so they will be regarded by the slave oligarchy, to a man. Justly open to censure as the Republican party is, on other grounds, it is deserving of commendation for endeavoring to baffle the designs of the Slave Power in regard to our vast territorial possessions at the West. One step in the right direction is better then inaction; how much better than twenty steps (as taken by the Democratic party) in the opposite direction! Nevertheless, it seems as clear to as now, as it did ten years ago, that the best service that can be rendered to the millions who are in bondage at the South—to the territories which are yet to be inhabited—to the cause of freedom every where; nay, that the highest duty that can be performed with references to the present and the future,—is to refuse to continue in alliance with the slaveholding South, and to trample in the dust the iniquitous compact made by our fathers. Indeed, we see so other alternative left to us.” ~ The Liberator.

September 13– Saturday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Birth of Maria Louise Baldwin, African American educator, lecturer and civic leader. [Dies January 9, 1922.]


Maria Louise Baldwin


September 14– Sunday– Springfield, Illinois– “Your much valued letter of the 7th is received. Could you not be with us here on the 25th of this month, when we expect to have a large mass-meeting? We cannot dispense with your services in this contest; and we ought, in a pecuniary way, to give you some relief in the difficulty of having your house burnt.” ~ Letter from Lincoln to Frederick Hecker. [Hecker, 1811– 1881, was a leader of the 1848 Revolution in Germany who fled to the United States after the revolution failed. At this time he is active in the Republican Party, encouraging German immigrants to vote for Fremont and to stand against slavery.]

September 17– Wednesday– Baltimore, Maryland– The Whig Party National Convention opens and adopts a platform. “Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States are assembled here by reverence for the Constitution, and unalterable attachment to the National Union, and a fixed determination to do all in their power to preserve it for themselves and posterity. They have no new principles to announce—no new platform to establish, but are content broadly to rest where their fathers have rested upon the Constitution of the United States, wishing no safer guide, no higher law. Resolved, That we regard with the deepest anxiety the present disordered condition of our national affairs. A portion of the country being ravaged by civil war and large sections of our population embittered by mutual recriminations, and we distinctly trace these calamities to the culpable neglect of duty by the present National Administration. Resolved, That the Government of these United States was formed by the conjunction in political unity of widespread geographical sections, materially differing not only in climate and products, but in their social and domestic institutions, and that any cause that shall permanently array these sections in political hostility and organized parties, founded only on geographical distinctions must inevitably prove fatal to the continuance of the National Union. Resolved, That the Whigs of the United States have declared as a fundamental article of their political faith, the absolute necessity for avoiding geographical parties; that the danger so clearly discerned by the “Father of his Country,” founded on geographical distinction, has now become fearfully apparent in the agitation convulsing the nation, which must be arrested at once if we would preserve our Constitutional Union from dismemberment, and the name of America from being blotted out from the family of civilized nations. Resolved, That all who revere the Constitution and Union, must look with alarm at the parties in the field in the present Presidential campaign—one claiming only to represent sixteen Northern States, and the other appealing to the passions and prejudices of the Southern States—that the success of either faction must add fuel to the flame which now threatens to wrap our dearest interest in a common ruin. Resolved, That the only remedy for an evil so appalling is to support the candidate pledged to neither geographical section nor arrayed in political antagonism, but holding both in just and equal regard; that we congratulate the friends of the Union that such a candidate exists in Millard Fillmore. Resolved, That, without adopting or referring to the peculiar principles of the party which has already selected Millard Fillmore as their candidate, we look to him as a well-tried and faithful friend of the Constitution and the Union, eminent alike for his wisdom and firmness, for his justice and moderation in foreign relations, for his calm and pacific temperament, well becoming a great and enlightened Government. For his devotion to the Constitution in its true spirit, and his inflexibility in executing the laws; but, beyond all these attributes, of being representative of neither of the two sectional parties now struggling for political supremacy. Resolved, That in the present exigency of political affairs, we are not called upon to discuss subordinate questions of administration in exercising the Constitutional powers of government. It is enough to know that civil war is raging, and the Union is in peril; and proclaim a conviction that the restoration of the Fillmore Presidency will furnish the best if not the only means of restoring peace.”


September 19– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “But the hour is coming when the strongest will not be strong enough. A harder task will the new revolution of the nineteenth century be, than was the revolution of the eighteenth century. I think the American Revolution bought its glory cheap. If the problem was new, it was simple. If there were few people, they were united, and the enemy3000 miles off. But now, vast property, gigantic interests, family connections, webs of party, cover the land with a net-work that immensely multiples the dangers of war. Fellow citizens, in these times full of the fate of the Republic, I think the towns should hold town meetings, and resolve themselves into Committees of Safety, go into permanent sessions, adjourning from week to week, from month to month. I wish we would send the Sergeant-at-Arms to stop every American who is about to leave the country. Send home every one who is abroad, lest he should find no country to return to. Come home and stay at home, while there is a country to save. When it is lost, it will be time enough then for any who are luckless enough to remain alive, to gather up their clothes and depart to some land where freedom exists.” ~ Speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson given ten days ago and reprinted in today’s issue of The Liberator.

September 21– Sunday– New York City– “The pestilent little state of South Carolina, mad with metaphysics and self-conceit, gasconading itself day by day into greater wrath and keener sense of imaginary wrong, means to secede if the North elect Fremont. . . . If it stand alone, it is easily dealt with; a couple of frigates can blockade its ports, and it will be starved into submission in about two weeks, being as poor and weak as it is insolent and irrational. But should it find aid and comfort from the sympathy of other slave states, which is not an improbable thing, if it put itself forward as champion of ‘Southern rights,’ the situation becomes a grave one and admits of but two probable solutions: a long and fierce civil war, or, what’s worse, dissolution of the Union.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 25– Thursday– New York City– “Politics engross everybody’s thoughts and talk, more and more daily.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September 27– Saturday– New York City– “Nothing fresh in politics. George Cornell counts on 50,000 majority for Fremont in the state, allowing 10,000 majority the other way in this city. Dubious.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.


September 28– Sunday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of Kate Smith Wiggin, author, educator and advocate of kindergarten education. [Dies August 24, 1923.]

September 30– Tuesday– New York City– “I don’t count on success in this election, but I think it’s time now for everybody at the North to aid, as far as he can, any decent party that aims at putting down the aggressions and assumptions of our Southern friends, and try to bring them to reason.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

September ~ Election Year 1852

Woman making American Flag

Slavery still holds center stage as an issue. The Free Soil Party challenges the two established parties. Women, emboldened by the Seneca Falls Convention of four years, meet regularly and increasingly demand equality. On-going problems in Ireland fuel immigration arriving in the United States.

September 1–Wednesday– Yellow Springs, Ohio–Rebecca Mann Pennell joins the faculty for the new Antioch College as a professor of physical geography and natural history. She is the first woman working as a college professor allowed to attend faculty meetings with men.


Rebecca Mann Pennell


September 1– Wednesday– New York City– “The time has come, not merely for the examination and discussion of Woman’s social, civil and religious rights, but also for a thorough and efficient organization—a well-digested plan of operation, whereby these sacred rights, for which our fathers fought, bled and died, may be secured and enjoyed by us. Let woman no longer supinely endure the evils she may escape, but with her own right hand carve out for herself a higher, nobler destiny than has heretofore been hers. Inasmuch as through the folly and imbecility of Woman the race is what it is, dwarfed in mind and body, and as through her alone it can yet be redeemed, all are equally interested in the objects of this Convention. We therefore solemnly urge those Men and Women who desire and look for the development and elevation of the race, to be present at the coming Convention, and aid us by the wisdom of their counsels. Our platform will, as ever, be free to all who are capable of discussing the subject with seriousness, candor and truth.” ~ The Lily on the upcoming Woman’s Rights Convention.

September 1–Wednesday– Washington, D. C.–Colonel Robert E Lee of Virginia is appointed superintendent of the military academy at West Point.

September 2– Thursday– New York City– “You will regret to hear that the potato has again failed to a great extent this year. The breadth of land planted with potatoes is said to be as great as in any former year, but it is estimated that at least one-half the crop will be ruined. This will destroy a prodigious amount of food, and will greatly diminish the confidence of farmers in the prospects of the country. We are informed that great numbers of the people now think only of leaving Ireland by the first opportunity. I do not regret the emigration on behalf of those who go. They will mend their condition, or perish in the attempt.” ~ Report from Ireland in today’s issue of The National Anti-Slavery Standard.

September 3– Friday– Rochester, New York– “The Pittsburgh Convention so long and anxiously looked for by its friends and foes, has held its sessions, declared its sentiments, and presented its candidates. The platform is such an approximation to our views of what it should be that we levy no war upon it. J.P. Hale is too well known to the friends of a just government to need our commendation, his labor speak his highest praise. Of Mr. Julian we know far less, but his position warrants him a man.” ~ Frederick Douglass’ Paper


John P Hale


September 3– Friday– London, England– “The gravest fault of the book has, however, to be mentioned. Its object is to abolish slavery. Its effect will be to render slavery more difficult than ever of abolishment. Its popularity constitutes its greatest difficulty. It will keep ill-blood at boiling-point, and irritate instead of pacifying those whose proceedings Mrs. Stowe is anxious to influence on behalf of humanity. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was not required to convince the haters of slavery of the abomination of the ‘institution;’ of all books, it is the least calculated to weigh with those whose prejudices in favor of slavery have yet to be overcome, and whose interests are involved in the perpetuation of the system. If slavery is to cease in America, and if the people of the United States, who fought and bled for their liberty and nobly won it, are to remove the disgrace that attaches to them for forging chains for others which they will not tolerate on their own limbs, the work of enfranchisement must be a movement, not forced upon slave owners, but voluntarily undertaken, accepted and carried out by the whole community. There is no federal law which can compel the Slave States to resign the ‘property’ which they hold. The States of the South are as free to maintain slavery as are the States of the North to rid themselves of the scandal. Let the attempt be made imperiously and violently to dictate to the South, and from that hour the Union is at an end. We are aware that to the mind of the “philanthropist” the alternative brings no alarm, but to the rational thinkers, to the statesman, and to all men interested in the world’s progress, the disruption of the bond that holds the American states together is fraught with calamity, with which the present evil of slavery—a system destined sooner or later to fall to pieces under the weight of public opinion and its own infamy—bears no sensible comparison. The writer of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and similar well-disposed authors have yet to learn that to excite the passions of their readers in favor of their philanthropic schemes is the very worst mode of getting rid of a difficulty, which, whoever may be to blame for its existence, is part and parcel of the whole social organization of a large proportion of the States, and cannot be forcibly removed without instant anarchy, and all its accompanying mischief.” ~ The Times of London


September 9– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “We understand the Union [another D C newspaper] like the rest of the supporters of General Pierce, it was anxious for the nomination of Mr. Hale: the announcement filled them with joy, for they said at once that it would secure them Ohio, beyond a doubt. They feared the nomination of Chase, under the impression that it would bear more heavily against the Democratic Party. But as Hale has not by letter publicly signified his acceptance of the nomination, they begin to feel distressed lest he should decline, and thereby reduce their chances again in Ohio. Let them put their hearts at rest on this point. The Pittsburgh Convention was above all policy; the majority determined that Hale should be the candidate, whatever might be the consequences. Men under the controlling influence of high moral or philanthropic motives, are not much addicted to calculation. Mr. Hale has nothing to do but to accept. It would not do to hazard the reputation of such an organization. But, we advise the supporters of General Pierce to moderate their joy. Mr. Hale on the stump will do exact justice to both parties, and find as ready access, we doubt not, to the hearts of Free Soil Democrats, as of Free Soil Whigs.” ~ The National Era

September 10– Friday– near Park Hill, Indian Territory [now Oklahoma]– Birth of Alice Brown Davis, her father from Scotland, her mother a member of the Seminole Nation. [Alice will herself bear 11 children and serve as a leader among and an advocate for the Seminole people from 1874 until her death on June 21, 1935.]


Alice Brown Davis


September 13– Monday– Oberlin, Ohio– “Since I received your circular I have been wanting to write to you & ask you to consider well the principle involved in your voting as you did for candidates of your view at the convention at Pittsburgh. Suppose each member of the convention had done the same, & suppose all voters should do the same. Would not government be an impossibility, as no representatives could be elected. Will you consider, my brother, the question of Political Sectarianism in its various bearings & ascertain what arguments can justify Political that would not equally justify religious sectarianism or schism? Is it not true that in cases where, from the nature of the case, men must act by majorities, in masses, & not merely as individuals, it is wrong to secede except for fundamental heresy? Is not patience, labor, argument the remedy for all other errors either in politics or religions? I regard the question of liberty & slavery as vital & fundamental in politics & therefore justify & demand secession for the slavery heresy.” ~ Letter from Reverend Charles G Finney to Gerrit Smith.

September 16– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “A long, well-written address appears in the Wisconsin Free Democrat, published at Milwaukee, from the pen of H.H. Van Amringe, a leader of the Land Reformers, calling upon them to support Hale and Julian, openly identified as they are by their platforms and avowals, with Land Reform principles. He says: ‘Our path is now plain and open. Such is the numerical force of Land Reformers in Wisconsin, that if we go in solid body for Hale and Julian, the Lord Reform nominees, at the ensuing Presidential election, we may carry the electoral votes of the State for them.’” ~ The National Era.

September 17– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “We lay before our readers the first half of the very elaborate and carefully prepared speech of Mr. Sumner, on his proposed amendment for the immediate repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law. It is eliciting high commendations in all quarters, and the press is throwing off edition after edition with great rapidity. It will be read by the country—by men of all parties—and wherever read, will enlarge and consolidate the already wide reputation of its author for learning, ability and philanthropy. But it is not without its vulnerable points. We think it clearly demonstrates the unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law, in so much as by it the right of trial by jury, all the processes of a legal claim, and all the safeguards of personal liberty in the Free States, are destroyed. But, beyond this, it does not travel an inch; and this is a very subordinate question, and not the primary and all-essential one of the entire and immediate abolition of slavery, wherever it exists on the American soil.” ~ The Liberator.


Gerrit Smith


September 18– Saturday– Peterboro, New York– “Now, I may be wrong in making my political party no more comprehensive – but I am not inconsistent. I rigidly exclude from my church party all, who, I think, are not Christians, and, too, I rigidly exclude from my political party all, who do not come up to my standard of membership. Were you living in Peterboro, and should you admit to me your unwillingness to have the black man clothed with the right of suffrage, I should, even though you agreed with me in all other things, deny, that you belonged to my political party. You think, that I was wrong, in refusing to vote at Pittsburgh for Hale and Julian. Perhaps, I was. But, when you say, that the refusal was inconsistent with my liberality in Church matters, I reply, that it was not necessarily so, I might not have regarded them as belonging to my political party – and, hence my refusal to vote for them. But, there is another phase to this subject. Were you living here, I might recognize you, and most heartily too, as a member both of my church party and of my political party. But I should not, therefore, be bound, in consistency, to vote for you, either as an ecclesiastical officer, or political officer. Whilst I might believe, that you had the qualifications for the membership, I might, and with perfect consistency, deny, that you had the qualifications for the office. Allowing, then, that I regarded Hale and Julian as members of my political party, nevertheless I might have regarded them as unadapted to carry out and honor the principles of that party in the high offices to which they were nominated. To go with the majority is, I admit, an important duty, but you will agree with me, that it is no duty at all, until we have first settled it that the candidate belongs to our party – that is, holds the great, vital, distinctive principles of our party, and is, also, fit for the proposed office. . . . My recollections of my visit to Oberlin are very pleasant. I rejoice to learn, that your revival continues. I have often thought, that I should love to pass through an Oberlin revival. I have never been better than a half way Christian. I want to be a whole one.” ~ Letter from Gerrit Smith to Reverend Charles G Finney.

September 23– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “There is enough disaffection in the rank and file to prevent anything like the ordinary party enthusiasm. Democrats, under the influence of Anti-Slavery feeling, abhor the Baltimore platform, and are reluctant to support a candidate who, they believe, cordially sustains it. Anti-Slavery Whigs abhor their platform, and if they support Scott, it will be because they fully trust that he accepted the platform under constraint. But there are Whig and Democratic voters, who, resolved not to lay aside their Anti-Slavery principles in any election, whatever may be the inducement, will the nomination of Mr. Hale, the only nomination that does justice to the Constitution, to the Sentiments of the Fathers of the country, and to Northern sentiment, on the question of Slavery.” ~ The National Era

September 24– Friday– Oberlin, Ohio– “Your request to transmit my name, with a short article, for insertion in your contemplated publication, is before me. I have neither time nor words in which to express my unalterable abhorrence of slavery, with all the odious apologies and blasphemous claims of Divine sanction for it, that have been attempted. I regard all attempts, by legislation or otherwise, to give the abominable system ‘aid and comfort’ as involving treason against the government of God, and as insulting the consciences and common sense of men.” ~ Letter from Reverend Charles G Finney to the president of the Rochester [New York] Ladies’ Antislavery Society.

September 30– Thursday– Boston, Massachusetts– For the second time this year a convention of labor leaders and social reformers opens here today. The primary item on the agenda is advocacy of the 10 hour workday.

August ~ Election Year 1912


With former President Teddy Roosevelt its candidate, the Progressive Party adopts a liberal, reform-minded platform but as a gesture to the South, keeps Southern blacks from the convention. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, the U S mends in Latin American affairs. President Taft takes away Native American lands while getting Congress to pass some important legislation. Trouble is brewing in Mexico and in the Balkans.

August 1– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– The Progressive Party announces that it will not allow African Americans from Southern states to be delegates at its organizing convention in Chicago, a statement made with the approval of former President Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt emphasizes that from Northern states, “there would be a number of Negro delegates; more, in fact, than ever before figured in a National convention.”


August 2– Friday– Washington, D.C.– The Senate votes 51-4 to extend the Monroe Doctrine to protect the Americas, both North and South, from foreign corporations.

August 4– Sunday– Corinto, Nicaragua– One hundred U.S. Marines and sailors arrive on the USS Annapolis to protect American interests.

August 4– Sunday– Lidingo Municipality, Sweden– Birth of Raoul Wallenberg, diplomat and humanitarian who will rescue tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II, then disappear into Soviet custody in 1947 and subsequently be presumed dead.

August 5– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party, nicknamed the “Bull Moose” Party to rival the Republican elephant and Democrat donkey, opens its founding convention.


August 6– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party presents a 16 page booklet detailing the platform which includes establishing limits and disclosure requirements ob campaign contributions, registration of lobbyists, establishment of a national health service, social insurance for the elderly and disabled, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, mandatory reporting of industrial accidents, a minimum wage for working women, an eight-hour workday, conversation of natural resources, establishment of a federal securities commission, establishment of a department of labor, regulation of interstate corporations, downward revision of tariffs, establishment of an inheritance tax, financial aid to farmers, pensions for veterans and their widows and children, use of the new Panama Canal to break the monopoly of the railroads, woman suffrage, direct election of senators, maintaining a strong military yet working for international agreements on limiting naval forces.


Woodrow Wilson


August 7– Wednesday– Sea Girt, New Jersey– Speaking to a crowd of 6,000 supporters, Woodrow Wilson formally accepts the Democratic nomination.

August 7– Wednesday–Chicago, Illinois– The Progressive Party nominates Theodore Roosevelt as its candidate for President of the United States and California Governor Hiram Johnson for vice-president. [Johnson, age 46, a reform-minded lawyer, was elected governor in 1910. He will continue to serve as governor until 1917 and then as U S Senator from California from 1917 until his death on August 6, 1945. On his life and work, See: Hiram Johnson: Political Revivalist (1995) by M Weatherson and H Bochin; A Bloc of One: the Political Career of Hiram W Johnson (1993) by R C Lower.


Hiram Johnson


August 8– Thursday– Mt Juliet, Tennessee– Ross Winn, age 40, American anarchist and newspaper publisher, dies from tuberculosis, “the poor people’s disease.”

August 9– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft issues a proclamation opening parts the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana for public sale as of October 21, 1912.

August 10– Saturday– Beijing, China– The Republic’s provisional government enacts its election law, creating a lower house of parliament, and limiting voting rights to male citizens who were at least 21 years of age, have at least two years residency in their district, and meet certain property and educational restrictions.

August 11– Sunday– near Mexico City, Mexico– Zapatista rebels attack a train, killing 35 soldiers and 20 civilians.


August 12– Monday– City of Uskub (now Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia)– An army of 15,000 Kosovar Albanians march into the city, one of the European outposts of the Ottoman Empire, and expel the Turkish administrators and Serbian residents.

August 13– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– The Radio Act of 1912 is enacted, providing for all American radio broadcasters to be licensed by, and assigned a specific frequency, by the federal government.

August 14– Wednesday– London, England– Octavia Hill, social reformer, dies at age 73 from cancer.

August 15– Thursday–Pasadena, California– Birth of Julia Carolyn Mc Williams Child, chef, author and television personality.[Dies August 13, 2004.]


August 16– Friday– Providence, Rhode Island– Theodore Roosevelt opens his campaign for the presidency, with an speech detailing his plans.

August 16– Friday– Richmond, Virginia– Sixteen-year-old African-American Virginia Christian is executed for the March 18th murder of her employer, Mrs Ida Belote, in Hampton, Virginia, despite pleas for clemency made to Governor William Hodges Mann, age 69, a Democrat and veteran of the Confederate Army. Miss Christian is listed as “the first woman to be put to death in the electric chair in Virginia.”


Virginia Christian in her jail cell


August 17– Saturday– Los Angeles, California– Clarence Darrow, the famous trial lawyer, receives a verdict of acquittal in his own criminal trial. Darrow had been charged with having attempted to bribe a juror in the Los Angeles Times bombing case.

August 17– Saturday–Piedmont, California– Cloe Annette Buckel, physician whose career included care of Union soldiers from August, 1863 through May, 1865, dies of arteriosclerosis eight days before her 79th birthday.

August 20– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– President Taft signs into law the Plant Quarantine Act, giving the federal government the power to regulate the importation and interstate shipment of plant products that might carry with them insects and diseases. The law will prove effective in curtailing the spread of the gypsy moth beyond the New England area, where the population of the pest had significantly increased over the previous seven years.

August 20– Tuesday– London, England– Reverend William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, dies at age 83.


William Booth


August 23–Friday– Washington, D. C.– The Pure Food and Drug Act is amended to prohibit drug manufacturers from making false claims on the labels of medication.

August 24–Saturday– Washington, D.C.–Congress gives final approval to the creation of the parcel post system.

August 25– Sunday–Beijing, China– The Kuomintang political party, also referred to as the Nationalist Chinese Party, is founded by former President Sun Yat-sen. [Under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang will be the ruling political party of mainland China until 1949, and of Taiwan since then.]

August 27– Tuesday– Veracruz, Mexico– Birth of Gloria Rubio Alatorre Guinness, who will become a well-known socialite in the Americas and in Europe. A fashion icon, she will write for and edit Harper’s Bazaar (1963-1971). [Dies November 9, 1980.]

August 29– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Claims made by entrepreneur Clarence Cunningham, to the coal fields of the Territory of Alaska, are cancelled by the Department of the Interior.

August 29– Thursday– Memphis, Tennessee– Robert R. Church, African-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, dies at age 72 after a brief illness.


Robert R Church


August 30– Friday– Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico– Rebel Mexican General Jose Inez Salazar begins a campaign to force American residents to leave Mexico, ordering the residents of the American Mormon settlement to leave the country within two weeks.


August 17 to 31 ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

In the midst of his bid for re-election, President Lincoln must deal with divisions within his own party, hostility from those who favor peace, an opposition candidate who is a general in the Union Army, handling diplomacy, encouraging immigration and citizen peace initiatives. Quietly he considers the possibility of losing the election, while encouraging Generals Grant and Sherman and receiving a great victory from the Union Navy.

August 17– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I am sadly oppressed with the aspect of things. Have just read the account of the interview at Richmond between Jaquess and Gilmore on one side and Jeff Davis and Benjamin on the other. What business had these fellows with such a subject? Davis asserts an ultimatum that is inadmissible, and the President in his note, which appears to me not as considerate and well-advised as it should have been, interposes barriers that were unnecessary. Why should we impose conditions, and conditions which would provoke strife from the very nature of things, for they conflict with constitutional reserved rights? If the Rebellion is suppressed in Tennessee or North Carolina, and the States and people desire to resume their original constitutional rights, shall the President prevent them? Yet the letters to Greeley have that bearing, and I think them unfortunate in this respect. They place the President, moreover, at disadvantage in the coming election. He is committed, it will be claimed, against peace, except on terms that are inadmissible. What necessity was there for this, and, really, what right had the President to assume this unfortunate attitude without consulting his Cabinet, at least, or others?” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


Gideon Welles


August 18– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds be carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your homes, rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced. I return to you my sincere thanks, soldiers, for the honor you have done me this afternoon.” ~ Remarks of President Lincoln to Union soldiers from Ohio who are returning home.

August 18– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Leonard Swett meets with President Lincoln, cautioning him that it is doubtful that he can win reelection and suggesting that Lincoln withdraw his acceptance of the nomination. He informs the President that elements of the Republican Party plan to hold a another convention in September and nominate someone else. Lincoln refuses, telling Swett, “I confess that I desire to be reelected.” Later in the day, Lincoln tells another visitor, “I have the common pride of humanity to wish my past four years administration endorsed; and besides I honestly believe that I can better serve the nation in its need and peril than any new man could possibly do.” [Swett, 1825– 1899, a lawyer from Illinois, has been a confidant and friend of Lincoln for many years.]

August 19– Friday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln meets with the abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the White House. They discuss ways to help slaves escape and how to increase black enlistment in the army and navy.


Frederick Douglass


August 22– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the services you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged, I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them, in a few brief remarks, the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for the day, but for all time to come, that we should perpetuate for our children’s children that great and free government which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen, temporarily, to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each one of you may have, through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field, and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise, and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life with all its desirable human aspirations–it is for this that the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthrights– not only for one, but for two or three years, if necessary. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.” ~ Remarks of President Lincoln to the 166th Ohio Regiment.

August 22– Monday– Geneva, Switzerland– A number of European states sign the First Geneva Convention. They include Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Spain and Switzerland. The Convention provides for: the immunity from capture and destruction of all establishments for the treatment of wounded and sick soldiers, the impartial reception and treatment of all combatants, the protection of civilians providing aid to the wounded, and the recognition of the Red Cross symbol as a means of identifying persons and equipment covered by the agreement.

August 23– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.” ~ Secret memorandum drafted by President Lincoln which he asks the members of his Cabinet to sign without reading it.


August 23– Tuesday– Mobile, Alabama– After heavy bombardment from Federal forces on land and sea, Fort Morgan, the last Confederate fortification guarding the entrance to Mobile Bay, falls to Union control. While the Confederates control the city itself, the harbor is closed to traffic and controlled by Federal forces. This leaves only Wilmington, North Carolina, as the only port useful to the Confederacy.

August 25– Thursday– New York City– “The peace faction grows more and more rampant and truculent. I predict that Belmont and Barlow will manipulate the Chicago convention into nominating McClellan on a non-committal platform, and that if elected, he will betray the country.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 25– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– Henry Raymond, editor of the New York Times, meets with President Lincoln at the White House. The President assures Raymond that ending slavery is non-negotiable.

August 25– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “The Democrats hold a party nominating convention next Monday at Chicago, which is naturally attracting a good deal of attention. There is a palpable effort to give eclat, and spread abroad a factitious power for this assemblage in advance. To this the Administration journals, and particularly those of New York, have conduced. I do not think that anything serious is to be apprehended from that convention, if Seward can keep quiet; but his management, which is mismanagement, and his shrewdness, which is frequently untowardness, will ever endanger a cause.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 27– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Much party machinery is just at this time in motion. No small portion of it is a prostitution and abuse. The Whig element is venal and corrupt, to a great extent. I speak of the leaders of that party now associated with Republicans. They seem to have very little political principle; they have no belief in public virtue or popular intelligence; they have no self-reliance, no confidence in the strength of a righteous cause, little regard for constitutional restraint and limitations. Their politics and their ideas of government consist of expedients, and cunning management with the intelligent, and coercion and subornation of the less informed.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.August 29– Monday– Rochester, New York– “That every slave who escapes from the Rebel states is a loss to the Rebellion and a gain to the Loyal Cause, I need not stop to argue the proposition is self evident. . . . I will therefore briefly submit at once to your Excellency the ways and means by which many such persons may be wrested from the enemy and brought within our lines: . . . 4th Let provision be made that the slaves or Freed men thus brought within our lines shall receive subsistence until such of them as are fit shall enter the service of the Country or be otherwise employed and provided for; . . . . This is but an imperfect outline of the plan but I think it enough to give your Excellency an Idea of how the desirable work shall be executed.” ~ following up on the meeting of the 19th Frederick Douglass submits to President Lincoln a plan to aid slaves escape from the South.

August 29– Monday– Chicago, Illinois– The Democratic National Convention opens with a speech by Mr August Belmont. Belmont, a wealthy businessman and Democratic politician, age 50, declares, “Four years of misrule, by a sectional, fanatical and corrupt party, have brought our country to the very verge of ruin. The past and present are sufficient warnings of the disastrous consequences which would befall us if Mr Lincoln’s re-election should be made possible by our want of patriotism and unity.”

August 30– Tuesday– Chicago, Illinois– “Resolved, That in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern. Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which . . . the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of 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 of the States. . . . Resolved, That the aim and object of the Democratic party is to preserve the Federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired . . . . Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the Administration to its duty in respect to our fellow-citizens who now are and long have been prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest reprobation on the score alike of public policy and common humanity. Resolved, That the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy, who are and have been in the field and on the sea under the flag of our country, and, in the events of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned.” ~ Platform of the Democratic Party adopted in convention.


street fight between Lincoln & McClellan supporters


August 31– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “General McClellan was to-day nominated as the candidate of the so-called Democratic party. It has for some days been evident that it was a foregone conclusion and the best and only nomination the opposition could make. . . . That factious, narrow, faultfinding illiberality of radicals in Congress which has disgraced the press ostensibly of the Administration party, particularly the press of New York City, has given strength to their opponents. McClellan will be supported by War Democrats and Peace Democrats, by men of every shade and opinion ; all discordant elements will be made to harmonize, and all differences will be suppressed. Whether certain Republican leaders in Congress, who have been assailing and deceiving the Administration, and the faultfinding journals of New York have, or will, become conscious of their folly, we shall soon know. They have done all that was in their power to destroy confidence in the President and injure those with whom they were associated. If, therefore, the reelection of Mr. Lincoln is not defeated, it will not be owing to them. In some respects I think the President, though usually shrewd and sensible, has mismanaged. His mistakes, I think, are attributable to Mr. Seward almost exclusively. It has been a misfortune to retain Stanton . . . . the President is honest, sincere, and confiding, traits which are not so prominent in some by whom he is surrounded.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 1 to 17 ~ Election Year 1864

Woman making American Flag

In the midst of his bid for re-election, President Lincoln must deal with divisions within his own party, hostility from those who favor peace, an opposition candidate who is a general in the Union Army, handling diplomacy, encouraging immigration and citizen peace initiatives. Quietly he considers the possibility of losing the election, while encouraging Generals Grant and Sherman and receiving a great victory from the Union Navy.

August 1– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The President went yesterday to Fortress Monroe to meet General Grant, by prior arrangement, which made me distrust final operations at Petersburg, for if such were the fact, he could not well be absent.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 2– Tuesday– New York City– “Clement C. Clay, of Alabama, is one of the very meanest of those mean conspirators who helped Davis, Toombs & Co. to set up their Confederacy of Treason, Slavery and Crime. . . . Such are the actors in the farce, and we see at once, they are none of the common herd, the profanum vulgus, but of the genuine stock of Southern bragadocias; the bloviators of the Confederacy . . . . they have made a great mistake. It is not Mr. Lincoln, but the American people, who reject any terms of compromise whatever. The people and Congress will not allow the Administration to make any other terms than that the rebels shall return unconditionally to an obedience to the laws and Constitution of the United States. It is, therefore, a mere absurdity to be talking about their independence, or their separation intellectual condition, to have set up a rebellion on mere delusion, and think they can end it by proposing impossible terms. . . . The falling leaves of November will find the Confederacy in that decaying state which precedes its final fall and dissolution.” ~ New York Times.

1864 jeff davis nightmare 1765w

August 3– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have received the letter which Your Majesty has been pleased to address to me, conveying the melancholy intelligence of the decease, on the 2nd of April last, of the Archduchess Hildegarde, wife of Your Majesty’s well beloved cousin, the Archduke Albrecht. I deeply sympathize in the grief with which this afflicting event has filled Your Majesty, and I pray Your Majesty to accept for yourself, and for Your Royal Family, my cordial condolence. May God have Your Majesty in his holy keeping.” ~ Letter from President Lincoln to Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria. This is one of four to European monarchs which Lincoln sends today.

August 3– Wednesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “All the wicked passions of the people seem to be left without restraint– such are some of the fruits of war. How often have I wished that I had with me all the warm advocates of this War to witness with me from day to day the sad effects of war, sufferings enough to melt the Heart.”~ Diary of William King

August 4– Thursday– New York City– In response to President Lincoln’s request for a day of prayer and fasting, many businesses close and many places of worship hold services. A number of churches take up special collections for the Sanitary Commission.

August 5– Friday– New York City– “A more studied outrage on the legislative authority of the people has never been perpetrated. Congress passed a bill; the President refused to approve it, and then by proclamation puts as much of it in force as he sees fit, and proposes to execute those parts by officers unknown to the laws of the United States and not subject to the confirmation of the Senate! The bill directed the appointment of provisional governors by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The President, after defeating such a law, proposes to appoint without law, and without the advice and consent of the Senate, military governors for the rebel States! He has already exercised this dictatorial usurpation in Louisiana, and he defeated the bill to prevent its limitation. . . .The President has greatly presumed on the forbearance which the supporters of his administration have so long practiced, in view of the arduous conflict in which we are engaged, and the reckless ferocity of our political opponents. But he must understand that our support is of a cause and not of a man; that the authority of Congress is paramount and must be respected; and that the whole body of the Union men of Congress will not submit to be impeached by him of rash and unconstitutional legislation; and if he wishes our support, he must confine himself to his executive duties ‘to obey and execute, not makes the laws’ to suppress by arms armed rebellion, and leave political reorganization to Congress. If the supporters of the government fail to insist on this, they become responsible for the usurpations which they fail to rebuke, and are justly liable to the indignation of the people, whose rights and security, committed to their keeping, they sacrifice. Let them consider the remedy for these usurpations, and, having found it, fearlessly execute it!” ~ an attack upon President Lincoln by Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio and Representative Henry Winter Davis [known as the “Wade-Davis Manifesto”] which appears in today’s New York Tribune, the paper of Horace Greeley.

August 5– Friday– Mobile, Alabama– Union naval vessels under the command of Admiral Farragut storm past the Confederate forts, sink one Confederate warship and capture two others, thus sealing off the port and leaving the city open to land operations by Federal infantry. At the start of the assault when the lead Federal ship sinks, Farragut allegedly yells out to his crew, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”


Battle of Mobile Bay


August 6– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “I remarked that I had seen the Wade and Winter Davis protest. He [President Lincoln] said, Well, let them wriggle, but it was strange that Greeley, whom they made their organ in publishing the protest, approved his course and therein differed from the protestants. The protest is violent and abusive of the President, who is denounced with malignity for what I deem the prudent and wise omission to sign a law prescribing how and in what way the Union shall be reconstructed. . . . In getting up this law it was as much an object of Mr. Winter Davis and some others to pull down the Administration as to reconstruct the Union. I think they had the former more directly in view than the latter. Davis’s conduct is not surprising, but I should not have expected that Wade, who has a good deal of patriotic feeling, common sense, and a strong, though coarse and vulgar, mind, would have lent himself to such a despicable assault on the President. There is, however, an infinity of party and personal intrigue just at this time. A Presidential election is approaching, and there are many aspirants, not only for Presidential but other honors or positions. H. Winter Davis has a good deal of talent but is rash and uncertain. There is scarcely a more ambitious man, and no one that cannot be more safely trusted. He is impulsive and mad and has been acute and contriving in this whole measure and has drawn Wade, who is ardent, and others into it.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 8– Monday– New York City– “Then as if this were not enough, the Political Caldron is seething as if it were much nitric acid in contact with boundless copper filings. There is fearful evolution of irritating offensive gas and Heaven only knows what compound will be generated by the furious reaction of which we now see only the beginning. Peace Democrats and McClellanites are blatant. McClellan, it’s said, will accept no nomination except on a war platform.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 8– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “The President, in a conversation with Blair and myself on the Wade and Davis protest, remarked that he had not, and probably should not read it. From what was said of it he had no desire to, could himself take no part in such a controversy as they seemed to wish to provoke. Perhaps he is right, provided he has some judicious friend to state to him what there is really substantial in the protest entitled to consideration without the vituperative asperity. The whole subject of what is called reconstruction is beset with difficulty, and while the executive has indicated one course and Congress another, a better and different one than either may be ultimately pursued. I think the President would have done well to advise with his whole Cabinet in the measures he has adopted, not only as to reconstruction or reestablishing the Union, but as to this particular bill and the proclamation he has issued in regard to it. When the Rebellion shall have been effectually suppressed, the Union government will be itself again, ‘re-union will speedily follow in the natural course of events,’ but there are those who do not wish or intend reunion on the principle of political equality of the States. Unless they can furnish the mode and terms, and for fear they may not be successful, various schemes are projected.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles


Gideon Welles


August 9– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “You are requested to place to the credit of the Department of State the sum of $25,000 as appropriated in the seventh section of the Act entitled ‘An Act to encourage immigration,’ approved July 4, 1864.” ~ Directive from President Lincoln to the Secretary of the Treasury. [The amount would equal $389,000 in today’s money, using the Consumer Price Index.

August 9– Tuesday– Washington, D. C.– “News of Farragut’s having passed Forts Morgan and Gaines was received last night, and sent a thrill of joy through all true hearts. It is not, however, appreciated as it should be by the military.”~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 9– Tuesday– City Point, Virginia– “Your views about showing no despondency, but keeping the enemy, with his last man now in the field, constantly employed, are the same I have often expressed. We must win, if not defeated at home [in the upcoming election]. Every day exhausts the enemy at least a regiment, without any further population to draw from to replace it, exclusive of the losses in battle.” ~ Letter from Union General Ulysses S. Grant to General William Tecumseh Sherman.


General Ulysses S Grant


August 12– Friday– Washington, D.C.– Thurlow Weed meets with President Lincoln and advises him that “reelection is an impossibility” because the President has angered the Radical Republicans who want harsher measures approved against the South for reconstruction after the war as well as conservative members of the party who worry about the increasing cost and increasing death toll.

August 13– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Had some talk with Senator Lot Morrill, who is a good deal excited, not to say alarmed. The slow progress of our armies, the mismanagement of military affairs exemplified in the recent raids, the factious and discontented spirit manifested by Wade, Winter Davis, and others, have generated a feeling of despondency in which he participates. Others express to me similar feelings. There is no doubt a wide discouragement prevails, from the causes adverted to, and others which have contributed. . . . The worst specimens of . . . wretched politicians are in New York City and State, though they are to be found everywhere. There is not an honest, fair-dealing Administration journal in New York City. A majority of them profess to be Administration, and yet it is without sincerity.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 15– Monday– Washington, D.C.– “There have been men base enough to propose to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee, and thus win the respect of the masters they fought. Should I do so, I should deserve to be damned in time and eternity. Come what will, I will keep my faith with friend and foe. My enemies pretend I am now carrying on this war for the sole purpose of abolition. So long as I am President, it shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the Union. But no human power can subdue this rebellion without the use of the emancipation policy, and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the rebellion. Freedom has given us one hundred and fifty thousand [black] men, raised on Southern soil. It will give us more yet. Just so much it has subtracted from the enemy, and, instead of alienating the South, there are now evidences of a fraternal feeling growing up between our men and the rank and file of the rebel soldiers. Let my enemies prove to the country that the destruction of slavery is not necessary to a restoration of the Union. I will abide the issue.” ~ President Lincoln in an interview with John T Mills.

August 15– Monday– Washington, D. C.– “From Mobile Bay the news continues favorable. Had Farragut’s preliminary dispatch of the 5th to-day. Have just written a congratulatory letter to him. ” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

August 16– Tuesday– New York City– “The great election of next November looks more and more obscure, dubious and muddled every day. Lincoln is drifting to the leeward. So much is certain. There is rumor of a move by our wire-pullers and secret unofficial governors to make him withdraw in favor of Chase, or somebody else, on whom the whole Republican party (if such a thing exists) can heartily unite. Fremont’s nomination is coldly received here, though it may find favor in Missouri.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

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August 17– Wednesday– New York City– “Great complaints , even by the most loyal men, of the shortcomings and mistakes of government and the ‘Peace Democrats’ vocal and truculent in threats of vengeance on Black Republicans and Abolitionists and in talk about revolution and repudiation of the war debt– all which will do them no good.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

August 17– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible.” ~ Telegram from President Lincoln to General Ulysses S Grant.