National Union Party (United States)

Last updated
National Union Party
Leaders Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
FoundedMay 21, 1864 (1864-05-21)
DissolvedNovember 3, 1868 (1868-11-03)
Merger of Republican Party
Unionist Party
War Democrats
Merged into Republican Party
Democratic Party
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Ideology Unionism
Abolitionism
Reconstructionism
Colors  Red   white and   blue
(United States national colors)
Senate (1864)
42 / 54
House of Representatives (1864)
149 / 193

The National Union Party was the temporary name used by the Republican Party and elements of other parties for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election that was held during the Civil War. For the most part, state Republican parties did not change their name. [1] The temporary name was used to attract War Democrats, border state voters, and Unconditional Unionist and Unionist Party members who might otherwise have not voted for the Republican Party. The party nominated incumbent Republican President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. with life-long Democrat Andrew Johnson of Tennessee for Vice President. They won the electoral college 212–21.

Contents

Establishment

The National Union Party was created just before the general election of November 1864, when the Civil War was still in progress. A faction of anti-Lincoln Radical Republicans believed that Lincoln was incompetent and could not be reelected. A number of Radical Republicans formed a party called the Radical Democracy Party and a few hundred delegates met in Cleveland starting on May 31, 1864, eventually nominating John C. Frémont, who had also been the Republicans' first presidential standard-bearer during the 1856 presidential election.

Baltimore Convention

Republicans loyal to Lincoln created a new name for their party in convention at Baltimore, Maryland during the first week in June 1864 in order to accommodate the War Democrats who supported the war and wished to separate themselves from the Copperheads. This is the main reason why War Democrat Andrew Johnson was selected to be the vice presidential nominee as then-current Vice President Hannibal Hamlin was not nominated. The National Unionists supporting the Lincoln–Johnson ticket also hoped that the new party would stress the national character of the war.

The convention's temporary chairman, Robert Jefferson Breckinridge of Kentucky, explained that he could support Lincoln on this new ticket for the following reason: [2]

As a Union party I will follow you to the ends of the earth, and to the gates of death. But as an Abolition party, as a Republican party, as a Whig party, as a Democratic party, as an American [Know-Nothing] party, I will not follow you one foot.

The National Union Party adopted the following goals as its platform:

[P]ursuit of the war until the Confederacy surrendered unconditionally; a constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery; aid to disabled Union veterans; continued European neutrality; enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine; encouragement of immigration; and construction of a transcontinental railroad. It also praised the use of black troops and Lincoln's management of the war. [3]

News of his nomination at the 1864 National Union National Convention elicited Lincoln's famous response on June 9, 1864:

I am very grateful for the renewed confidence which has been accorded to me, both by the convention and by the National [Union] League. I am not insensible at all to the personal compliment there is in this; yet I do not allow myself to believe that any but a small portion of it is to be appropriated as a personal compliment. The convention and the nation, I am assured, are alike animated by a higher view of the interests of the country for the present and the great future, and that part I am entitled to appropriate as a compliment is only that part which I may lay hold of as being the opinion of the convention and of the League, that I am not entirely unworthy to be entrusted with the place I have occupied for the last three years. I have not permitted myself, gentlemen, to conclude that I am the best man in the country; but I am reminded, in this connection, of a story of an old Dutch farmer, who remarked to a companion once that 'it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.'

In August 1864, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that should he lose the election, he would nonetheless defeat the Confederacy by an all-out military effort before turning over the White House: [4]

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. [5]

Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope.

Changing mood

The complexion of the war changed as the election approached. Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee's last victory in battle occurred June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor. Union General Ulysses S. Grant's aggressive tactics trapped Lee in the trenches defending Richmond. Admiral David Farragut successfully shut down Mobile Bay as a Confederate resource in the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 3–23, 1864. Most decisive of all, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman captured Atlanta on September 1, 1864, convincing even the pessimists that the Confederacy was collapsing. [6]

Frémont withdraws

Frémont and his fellow Republicans hated their former ally Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. Frémont, aware that his candidacy could result in victory for the Democrats, made a deal to drop out of the presidential race in exchange for Blair's removal from office. On September 22, 1864, Frémont dropped out of the race. On September 23, Lincoln asked for and received Blair's resignation. [7] [8] [9]

The National Union ticket went on to win handily in the election of 1864, defeating the Democratic ticket of General George B. McClellan (whom Lincoln had previously relieved of his command) and George H. Pendleton.

Election

The Republican Party called itself the Union Party in 1864 and gave out this ballot for supporters to vote for Lincoln AL1864A.JPG
The Republican Party called itself the Union Party in 1864 and gave out this ballot for supporters to vote for Lincoln

In the 1864 congressional elections, the party won 42 Senate seats (out of 54 senators seated, not including vacancies due to the secession of Confederate states) and 149 seats (out of 193) in the House of Representatives. [10] These candidates ran under various party names, including National Union, Republican and Unconditional Union, but were part of the overall Republican/National Union effort. [11]

Post-Lincoln: Andrew Johnson presidency (1865–1869)

Ulysses S. Grant/Schuyler Colfax 1868 National Union Republican campaign poster Grant-Colfax.png
Ulysses S. Grant/Schuyler Colfax 1868 National Union Republican campaign poster

Upon Lincoln's death in 1865, Andrew Johnson became the only other National Union President.

After the bitter break with the Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies, Johnson used federal patronage to build up a party of loyalists, but it proved to be unsuccessful. [12] Johnson's friends sponsored the 1866 National Union Convention in August 1866 in Philadelphia as part of his attempt at maintaining a coalition of supporters. The convention sought to bring together moderate and conservative Republicans and defecting Democrats and forge an unbeatable coalition behind President Johnson and his Reconstruction policy. [13]

In the fall of 1866, Johnson embarked upon a speaking tour (known as the "Swing Around the Circle") before the 1866 Congressional elections to attempt to garner support for his policies. His swing was heavily ridiculed and proved ineffective as more of his opponents were elected. Republican National Committee chairman Henry Jarvis Raymond (1864–1866) lost the regard of the Republicans for his participation in the convention. The National Union movement became little more than the Democratic Party in a new form as Republicans left the movement and returned to the old party fold by the fall. [14]

The last congressman to represent the National Union Party ended his affiliation with the party in March 1867. Johnson was impeached by the Republican-led House of Representatives in 1868 and was acquitted in the Senate by one vote. Upon the 1869 expiration of Johnson's only term as President, the National Union Party came to an end. The platform adopted at the 1868 Republican National Convention strongly repudiated President Johnson [15] while the platform adopted by the 1868 Democratic National Convention thanked Johnson. [16] Johnson received dozens of votes on the first ballot of the Democratic convention, but the party ultimately nominated Horatio Seymour. Meanwhile, the mainline Republicans decided at their 1868 national convention to use the term the National Union Republican Convention. The 1868 National Union Republican delegates nominated Ulysses S. Grant for President and his running mate Schuyler Colfax for Vice President. In 1872, all reference to Union had disappeared. [17] Historians regard the initial National Union coalition assembled in 1864 as part of the Republican Party lineage and heritage. [18]

See also

Citations

  1. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., ed. History of U.S. Political Parties: vol II: 1860–1910 (1973) 2:1287.
  2. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) 9:66.
  3. "HarpWeek | Elections | 1864 Overview". Elections.harpweek.com. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  4. Mark Grimsley and Brooks D. Simpson, eds. The Collapse of the Confederacy (2001) p. 80.
  5. Lincoln, Memorandum concerning his probable failure of re-election, August 23, 1864. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 7, p. 514.
  6. Allan Nevins, War for the Union 4:97–98, 120–122.
  7. Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (1995) pp 534-535.
  8. Charles R. Wilson, “New Light on the Lincoln-Blair-Fremont ‘Bargain’ of 1864" American Historical Review 42#1 (1936), pp. 71–78.
  9. William Frank Zornow, Lincoln and the Party Divided (1954) pp 145-147.
  10. "Elections: 1864 Overview". HarpWeek. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  11. Aynes, Richard L. (2009). "The 39th Congress (1865–1867) and the 14th Amendment: Some Preliminary Perspectives" (PDF). Akron Law Review. 42 (4): 1022. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 4, 2012.
  12. Hans Trefousse, Andrew Johnson: A Biography (1998) ch. 11–12.
  13. Thomas Wagstaff, "The Arm-In-Arm Convention", Civil War History; 1968 14(2): 101–119.
  14. Patrick W. Riddleberger, 1866: The Critical Year Revisited (1979).
  15. "Republican Party Platform of 1868".
  16. "Democratic Party Platform of 1868".
  17. Schlesinger, 2:1287.
  18. The standard multivolume history includes it with the Republican Party and does not give it a separate entry. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. ed. History of U.S. Political Parties: vol II: 1860–1910 (1973).

General references

Related Research Articles

1856 United States presidential election 18th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1856 United States presidential election was the 18th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. In a three-way election, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican nominee John C. Frémont and Know Nothing nominee and former President Millard Fillmore.

1860 United States presidential election 19th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1860 United States presidential election was the 19th quadrennial presidential election, held on November 6, 1860. In a four-way contest, the Republican Party ticket of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin, absent from the ballot in ten slave states, won a national popular plurality, a popular majority in the North where states already had abolished slavery, and a national electoral majority comprising only Northern electoral votes. Lincoln's election thus served as the main catalyst of the American Civil War. This election resulted in the first Republican president being elected.

1864 United States presidential election 20th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1864 United States presidential election, the 20th quadrennial presidential election, was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1864. Near the end of the American Civil War, incumbent President Abraham Lincoln of the National Union Party easily defeated the Democratic nominee, former General George B. McClellan, by a wide margin of 212–21 in the electoral college, with 55% of the popular vote. For the election, the Republican Party and some Democrats created the National Union Party, especially to attract War Democrats.

1868 United States presidential election 21st quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1868 United States presidential election was the 21st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1868. In the first election of the Reconstruction Era, Republican nominee Ulysses S. Grant defeated Horatio Seymour of the Democratic Party. It was the first presidential election to take place after the conclusion of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. It was the first election in which African Americans could vote in the reconstructed Southern states, in accordance with the First Reconstruction Act.

The Radical Republicans were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party from the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 until the end of Reconstruction in the Compromise of 1877. They called themselves "Radicals" because of their goal of immediate, complete, permanent eradication of slavery, without compromise. They were opposed during the War by the contemporary moderate Republicans, and by the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party as well as liberals in the Northern United States during Reconstruction. Radicals led efforts after the war to establish civil rights for former slaves and fully implement emancipation. After weaker measures in 1866 resulted in violence against former slaves in the rebel states, Radicals pushed the Fourteenth Amendment and statutory protections through Congress. They opposed allowing ex-Confederate officers to retake political power in the Southern United States, and emphasized equality, civil rights and voting rights for the "freedmen", i.e., former slaves who had been freed during or after the Civil War by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment.

Francis Preston Blair American journalist

Francis Preston Blair Sr. was an American journalist, newspaper editor, and influential figure in national politics advising several U.S. presidents across party lines.

Benjamin Gratz Brown American politician (1826–1885)

Benjamin Gratz Brown was an American politician. He was a U.S. Senator, the 20th Governor of Missouri, and the Liberal Republican and Democratic Party vice presidential candidate in the presidential election of 1872.

William L. Dayton American politician

William Lewis Dayton was an American politician, active first in the Whig Party and later in the Republican Party. In the 1856 presidential election, he became the first Republican vice-presidential nominee when nominated alongside John C. Frémont. The Republican Party lost that campaign. During the American Civil War, Dayton served as the United States Ambassador to France, a position in which he worked to prevent French recognition of the Confederate States of America.

Horatio Seymour American politician (1810–1886)

Horatio Seymour was an American politician. He served as Governor of New York from 1853 to 1854 and from 1863 to 1864. He was the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1868 United States presidential election, won by Republican and General Ulysses S. Grant.

1856 Republican National Convention Political nominating convention

The 1856 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention that met from June 17 to June 19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the first national nominating convention of the Republican Party, which had been founded two years before, and was held to nominate the party's candidates for president and vice president in the 1856 election. The convention selected former Senator John C. Frémont of California for president and former Senator William L. Dayton of New Jersey for vice president. The convention also appointed the members of the newly-established Republican National Committee.

The Unionist Party, later known as the Unconditional Union Party in the border states, was a political party in the United States started after the Compromise of 1850 to define politicians who supported the Compromise. It was used primarily as a label by politicians who did not want to affiliate with the Republicans, or wished to win over anti-secession Democrats. Members included Southern Democrats who were loyal to the Union as well as elements of the old Whig Party and other factions opposed to a separate Southern Confederacy.

Presidency of Andrew Johnson U.S. presidential administration from 1865 to 1869

The presidency of Andrew Johnson began on April 15, 1865, when Andrew Johnson became President of the United States upon the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and ended on March 4, 1869. He had been Vice President of the United States for only 6 weeks when he succeeded to the presidency. The 17th United States president, Johnson was a member of the Democratic Party before the Civil War and had been Lincoln's 1864 running mate on the National Union ticket, which was supported by Republicans and War Democrats. Johnson took office as the Civil War came to a close, and his presidency was dominated by the aftermath of the war. As president, Johnson attempted to build his own party of Southerners and conservative Northerners, but he was unable to unite his supporters into a new party. Republican Ulysses S. Grant succeeded Johnson as president.

1864 National Union National Convention Political convention

The 1864 National Union National Convention was the United States presidential nominating convention of the National Union Party, which was a name adopted by the main faction of the Republican Party in a coalition with many, if not most, War Democrats after some Republicans and War Democrats nominated John C. Frémont over Lincoln. During the Convention, the party officially called for the end of the ongoing Civil War, the eradication of slavery and the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation.

War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were members of the Democratic Party who supported the Union and rejected the policies of the Copperheads. The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy and supported the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln when the American Civil War broke out a few months after his victory in the 1860 presidential election.

1868 United States elections

The 1868 United States elections was held on November 3, electing the members of the 41st United States Congress. The election took place during the Reconstruction Era, and many Southerners were barred from voting. However, Congress's various Reconstruction Acts required southern states to allow Black men to vote, and their voting power was significant to the elections results.

1864 United States elections

The 1864 United States elections were held on November 8, 1864. National Union President Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term, while the Republicans added to their majorities in Congress. The elections were held during the American Civil War. Lincoln would be assassinated shortly into his second term.

1866 United States elections

The 1866 United States elections occurred in the middle of National Union/Democratic President Andrew Johnson's term, during the Third Party System and Reconstruction. Johnson had become president on April 15, 1865, upon the death of his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln. Members of the 40th United States Congress were chosen in this election. As this was the first election after the Civil War, many ex-Confederates were barred from voting, and several Southern states did not take part in the election. Delegations from Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, and South Carolina were re-admitted during the 40th Congress.

Radical Democracy Party (United States) American political party

The Radical Democracy Party was an abolitionist and anti-Confederate political party in the United States. The party was formed to contest the 1864 presidential election and it was made up largely of disaffected Radical Republicans who felt that President Abraham Lincoln was too moderate on the issues of slavery and racial equality. John C. Frémont was nominated as the party's presidential candidate, with John Cochrane as his running mate. However, their campaign failed to gain momentum and not wanting to act as a spoiler against Lincoln, they withdrew from the race in September.

Horatio Seymour 1868 presidential campaign

In 1868, the Democrats nominated former New York Governor Horatio Seymour for President and Francis Preston Blair Jr. for Vice President. The Seymour-Blair ticket ran on a platform which supported national reconciliation and states' rights, opposed Reconstruction, and opposed both Black equality and Black suffrage. Meanwhile, the Republican presidential ticket led by General Ulysses S. Grant benefited from Grant's status as a war hero and ran on a pro-Reconstruction platform. Ultimately, the Seymour-Blair ticket ended up losing to the Republican ticket of General Ulysses S. Grant and House Speaker Schuyler Colfax in the 1868 U.S. presidential election.

George McClellan 1864 presidential campaign

In the 1864 U.S. presidential election, the Democrats nominated Union Army General George McClellan for U.S. President and Ohio U.S. Representative George Pendleton for U.S. Vice President. During the campaign, McClellan vowed to do a better job of prosecuting the Union Army effort in the American Civil War than incumbent U.S. President Abraham Lincoln did. Ultimately, the McClellan-Pendleton ticket lost to the National Union ticket of Abraham Lincoln and former U.S. Senator Andrew Johnson.