A look at the campaigns of the 16th American president
Although the Democrats were likely to split votes, Americans were deeply divided over the issues of states' rights and slavery. Lincoln could count on little support in the southern states.
Still, this cartoon considered the prospect of Republicans Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin defeating their divided opponents in the 1860 presidential election.
Republican organizers set out to earn national recognition for their candidate. They employed traditional campaigning methods, distributing prints, newspaper articles, and biographies countrywide, organizing speeches by prominent party orators who “stumped” (traveled around speaking) for Lincoln, and hosting mass meetings.
Republican organizers capitalized on this fervor by holding torchlight parades. They raised banners, decorated wagons and sought out bands, uniformed precision marchers and groups of local supporters to take part in these hours-long events. Manufacturers also cashed in, patenting and marketing thousands of campaign torches, lamps, and lanterns.
A new process for reproducing tintypes inexpensively gave Republicans another campaign tool – photographs of the candidates.
Just after Lincoln received the Republican nomination, Party officials sent Chicago photographer Alexander Hesler to make several election campaign photographs, including this one.
In 1860, individual political parties printed ballots listing only candidates from that party. The voter obtained a ballot for the party of his choice. Throughout most of the South, Lincoln's name was not even on the ballot -- but with the vote split among so many candidates, he carried all eighteen Free states to win the November 6th election.
Southerners feared Lincoln would end slavery everywhere. Soon after he was elected, southern states seceded from the Union one by one—forming their own government. The first Republican president in U.S. history would face endless crises and constant criticism.
This ballot was used during the convention that voted to secede the state of Georgia from the Union in 1861.
In 1860, the Democratic Party had been split, unable to compromise. In 1864, Democrats were united – at least in their opposition to President Lincoln, his Emancipation Proclamation, and Union wartime policies.
At the Democratic National Convention, Major General George B. McClellan was nominated to run against his commander-in-chief.
Despite campaign efforts, President Lincoln's re-election hopes seemed slim after a gloomy summer of Union defeats and casualty lists. But, finally, news of several Union victories boosted public support.
This cartoon compares McClellan’s past military failings with the successes of Lincoln’s new general Ulysses S. Grant – depicted as a bull dog cornering the leaders of the Confederacy.
In his Second Inaugural Address, President Lincoln spoke of peace and encouraged people to approach their fellow countrymen "with malice toward none; with charity for all." Unfortunately, the first Republican President would not live to see the end of the Civil War. Just three days after the Confederate Army surrendered, Lincoln was assassinated.
Lincoln’s political supporters now mourned the president’s death. John McGrath, who’d waved this handmade flag during the 1860 campaign, carried it as he led a group of mourners to meet Lincoln's funeral train in 1865.
From The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation™.
To learn more about The Henry Ford's Lincoln-related collections, please visit our blog.
Keith Melder, “Hail to the Candidate: Presidential Campaigns from Banners to Broadcasts”
Schlesinger, Israel, and Frent, “Running for President: The Candidates and their Images (1789-1896)”