Despite the uncertainty and violence of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln underscored the necessity of democratic elections. Electoral contests were held throughout the entire war in areas under the authority of the United States including the Northern states, the Border states, and even parts of the country that had briefly fallen under Confederate control such as Louisiana, Arkansas, and Virginia.
The 1864 presidential election became a referendum on Lincoln's conduct of the war. Controversial measures, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the employment of African Americans as soldiers in the U.S. Army, rankled many Democratic voters in the North. Their angst was heightened by a sense that Lincoln was more concerned with emancipation than peace.
Conversely, many radical members of his Republican Party worried that Lincoln would bend to political pressure and backtrack on emancipation or consider a peace settlement. Their ire led to the formation of a brief third party challenge under the Liberal Democratic Party.