The People’s Resolution to Stand by Free Government~November 1864~8th and 9th

The People’s Resolution to Stand by Free Government ~ Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln wins his reelection bid, becoming the first sitting president since Andrew Jackson in 1832 to secure a second term. Lincoln carries 55% of the total popular vote and over 70% of soldiers’ votes. Meanwhile Georgia is reeling from Sherman’s destruction to date but worse is coming as orders are issued for a new campaign, not returning northward nor going directly to Virginia to join up with Grant but for a fearsome thrust toward the Georgia coast.


November 8–Tuesday– Election Day– Washington, D. C.– In the popular vote for president, Lincoln receives 2,213,635 votes (55% of the total cast); General McClellan receives 1,805,237 votes. McClellan carries only Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey. Lincoln carries New York by less than 7,000 votes. Soldiers in the Union Army give Lincoln more than 70% of their votes Three new states participate for the first time: Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas. [Based on the states he carried, Lincoln will receive 212 votes in Electoral College while McClellan will receive only 21.] In the House of Representatives, the Republican Party takes a total of 136 seats, the Democratic Party 38 seats, the National Union Party 18 seats, and Independents1seat. The various state legislatures–excluding those in the Confederacy–select Republicans for 39 Senate seats, Democrats for 11 seats, and other parties for 4 seats. Thus the Republicans will control the White House and both houses of the Congress. [Mary Todd Lincoln does not let the President know that she owes more than $27,000 for clothing she has purchased on account. She confides in Elizabeth Keckly, the African American who works as her seamstress, that “If he is re-elected, I can keep him in ignorance of my affairs; but if he is defeated, then the bills will be sent in, and he will know all” but explains that as First Lady “I must dress in costly materials. The people scrutinize every article that I wear . . . . consequently I had, and still have, no alternative but to run in debt.” See, Behind the Scenes; Or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley, original 1868, reprint 1988, pp 148– 151. The First Lady’s debt would equal $413,000 in today’s dollars, using the Consumer Price Index.]

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

November 8– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “On the evening of the election . . . I went to the War Department about nine o’clock by invitation of the President. Took Fox with me, who was a little reluctant to go lest he should meet Stanton, who had for some days been ill. The Department was locked, but we were guided to the south door. The President was already there, and some returns from different quarters had been received. He detailed particulars of each telegram which had been received. Hay soon joined us and, after a little time, General Eaton. Mr. Eckert, the [telegraph] operator, had a fine supper prepared, of which we partook soon after 10. It was evident shortly after that the election had gone pretty much one way. Some doubts about New Jersey and Delaware. We remained until past one in the morning and left. All was well.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

November 8– Tuesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Wet and warm; all quiet below, and much mud there. Congress assembled yesterday, and the President’s message was read. He recommends the employment of 40,000 slaves in the army, not as soldiers, unless in the last extremity; and after the war he proposes their emancipation. This is supposed to be the idea of Mr. Benjamin, for foreign effect. It is denounced by the Examiner. The message also recommends the abolition of all class exemptions, such as editors, etc.The Examiner denounces this as a blow at the freedom of the press. The message is cheerful and full of hope, showing that the operations of the year, in the field, have resulted in no disadvantage to us. . . . To-day, no doubt, the election in the United States will result in a new lease of presidential life for Mr. Lincoln. If this result should really have been his motive in the conduct of the war, perhaps there may soon be some relaxation of its rigors– and possibly peace, for it is obvious that subjugation is not possible. President Lincoln may afford to break with the Abolition party now, and, as has been often done before, kick down the ladder by which he ascended to power. This is merely speculation, however; he may resolve to wield the whole military strength and resources of the United States with more fury than ever. But there will henceforth be a dangerous party against him in the rear. The defeated Democrats will throw every obstruction in his path– and they may chock his wheels– or even give him employment for the bayonet at home.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

November 8– Tuesday– Cobb County, Georgia– “I want to tell the sad story of the countless thousands that have been made to mourn by this horrid war. Powder Springs and the neighborhoods around it have suffered until longer suffering will be death. There is nothing left, positively nothing, for the people to live on. After the Yankee army passed us, we thought we had nothing. But the people picked up a good many broken down horses and in that way could go beyond the line of country through which the armies passed and with Confederate money could buy a little corn and wheat. But soon our scouts or so-called scouts began to come and every old mule and horse was taken that could travel at all. [It was] said to be an order from the General in command. And by the time a little late corn could be gathered and a little syrup could be made, by grinding the corn at night, and here came General Hood’s army and the Yankees right after them! All the trials and insults had to be gone through with again. Winter is coming on, the supply of salt is out, clothing worn out, and the women who have husbands and sons in this army ought to have something done for them. They can’t get away, and it is enough to make men desert to pass by their homes and to pass on after seeing such want and distress, and to know no hand has been raised to help them.” ~ Letter to Georgia Governor Joseph Brown.

damaged buildings in Atlanta

damaged buildings in Atlanta

November 8– Tuesday– Kingston, Georgia– “The general commanding deems it proper at this time to inform the officers and men of the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Twentieth Corps, that he has organized them into an army for a special purpose, well known to the War Department from our present base, and a long and difficult march to a new one. All the chances of war have been considered and provided for, as far as human sagacity can. All he asks of you is to maintain that discipline, patience, and courage, which have characterized you in the past; and he hopes, through you, to strike a blow at our enemy that will have a material effect in producing what we all so much desire, his complete overthrow. Of all things, the most important is, that the men, during marches and in camp, keep their places and do not scatter about as stragglers or foragers, to be picked up by a hostile people in detail. It is also of the utmost importance that our wagons should not be loaded with any thing but provisions and ammunition. All surplus servants, non-combatants, and refugees, should now go to the rear, and none should be encouraged to encumber us on the march. At some future time we will be able to provide for the poor whites and blacks who seek to escape the bondage under which they are now suffering. With these few simple cautions, he hopes to lead you to achievements equal in importance to those of the past.” ~ Orders from the staff of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

General Sherman

General Sherman

November 8– Tuesday– south of Atlanta, Georgia– “Last Friday the [Yankee] infantry came around, and I never saw meaner men before. Carrie thought she would have her hogs in a little house in the yard, so if they came for them she could beg for them. Well, Friday about 2o’clock, they commenced coming. They walked in the yard and before Carrie could say a word [they] had both of her hogs killed, the last hogs she had around. And they were neither one of them fit to eat, just shot them down at the house. Others were killing her chickens, another killed a goat, while others were ransacking the house. Some of them came in and went to the meal barrel and, finding about a half bushel of meal there, took a sack hanging near and emptied nearly all the meal out, went to her [meat] safe and took our everything she had cooked, then into the little back room and took all the salt they could find and anything else that they wanted. When they were taking the things, Carrie begged them not to take all she had. Their answer was that many a woman below was left without anything at all. ‘Why,’said Carrie, ‘What am I to do? How am I to live if you take all that I have?’ ‘Go North!’was the reply, as curtly as it could be spoken. After witnessing in what an unfeeling manner they deprive woman and children of everything they have to live upon, after hearing the taunts they cast upon us all as rebels, is it any wonder that we should wish them evil? I can not wish them any good in this world, and I have heretofore prayed that God would save their souls. But feeling as I do now, I cannot continue even that prayer. God forgive me if I sin in hating as I do.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his sister.

November 9– Wednesday– New York City– “The crisis has been past and the most momentous popular election ever held since ballots invented has decided against treason and disunion. My contempt for democracy and extended suffrage is mitigated. The American people can be trusted to take care of the national honor. Lincoln is reelected by an overwhelming vote.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 9– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– “Even before I had been informed by you that this compliment was paid me by loyal citizens of Pennsylvania, friendly to me, I had inferred that you were of that portion of my countrymen who think that the best interests of the nation are to be subserved by the support of the present administration. I do not pretend to say that you, who think so, embrace all the patriotism and loyalty of the country, but I do believe, and I trust without personal interest, that the welfare of the country does require that such support and indorsement should be given. I earnestly believe that the consequences of this day’s work, if it be as you assume, and as now seems probable, will be to the lasting advantage, if not to the very salvation, of the country. I cannot at this hour say what has been the result of the election. But, whatever it may be, I have no desire to modify this opinion: that all who have labored to-day in behalf of the Union have wrought for the best interests of the country and the world; not only for the present, but for all future ages. I am thankful to God for this approval of the people; but, while deeply grateful for this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my heart, my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. I do not impugn the motives of any one opposed to me. It is no pleasure to me to triumph over any one, but I give thanks to the Almighty for this evidence of the people’s resolution to stand by free government and the rights of humanity.” ~ Impromptu remarks by President Lincoln, early in the morning, in response to a serenade of citizens.


November 9– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Between six and seven o’clock on Monday, the frame stable, corner of Twentieth and Cary streets, opposite the Libby Prison, was set on fire and burned to the ground before the firemen could arrive upon the spot. The stable was in the occupancy of several horses belonging to the commandant of the post, Major Turner, and other officers of the prison. The loss is about one thousand dollars. But for the dampness prevailing at the time, the Libby Prison would have been in some danger. As it was the prisoners were very much concerned, and clamored to be released.” ~ Richmond Examiner.

November 9– Wednesday– Columbus, Georgia– “I have made no entry in my diary for some time. The war is still going on. The Georgia militia is above Griffin, while the Federals are still in possession of Atlanta. They are raiding all through the country, taking provisions, stock, etc. Our main army under General Hood has left and is trying to flank Sherman. At this time they are upon the Tennessee river.” ~ Diary of John Banks.

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