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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  November 28, 2014 2:00pm-3:01pm EST

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we continue our coverage of symposium on the 1864 presidential election. thomas horrocks looks at lincoln's published campaign biographies which were wide spread at the time and outlined his qualifications and personal life. he also examines how public opinion changed throughout the campaign. the lincoln group of dc hosted this hour long event. >> so let me begin by waving his book, tom horrocks has written a book on lincoln's campaign biograph biographers. tom is the former director of the john hay library at brown university. john hay, of course, was one of lincoln's two secretaries. tom holds a ph.d. in history from the university of pennsylvania and is the author, editor of six books including "popular print and popular medicine, health advice in early american almanacs." then "the living lincoln,"
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"president james buchanan and crisis of national leadership," "lincoln campaign biographies" is his most recent book and he is currently editing a book with harold holtzer entitled "the an no tated lincoln." let me present tom horrocks. >> hello, everyone. can you hear me? i'm going to be showing some slides early on of several lincoln's calm ina biographies from 1860s. don't get upset. i do understand i'm talking about 1864 but i need to show -- talk a little bit about the '60 campaign biographies to put the 1864 campaign biographies into conte context. there's two points i want to make at the outset. one is the close relationship between the world of prim and
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politics by mid 19th century, many newspapers and their editors were aligned with a political party. newspapers and their editors were openly partisan. this is a trend that began in the 1820s when newspapers became the favorite print medium for political news. newspapers were part of an extensive and powerful publishing industry that emerged in the first half of the 19th century, aided by advancements in communications, technology, and transportation, increasing literacy and the spread of mass education and rise of an urban middle class consumer. with the expansion of voting rights for white male, more and more americans became interested and involved in the political process. politicians had to adjust to this trend. they now had to compete for votes among a larger population of eligible voters. this is where the world of print comes into play.
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many publishers found politics to be profitable on many levels in the decades prior to the civil war. aligning one's paper with political party and producing pamphlets and other genres of print on the party's behalf provided not only financial backing and renumeration but it could also, and often did, lead to a lucrative appointment or even to a political career for a publisher and editor. conversely, it became essential for a political party where a politics to understand and take advantage of the power of print in order to have a chance of success, especially on a national level. my second point relates to the first. in lincoln's time, presidential candidates did not publicly campaign. this was part of a tradition that can be traced back to the republican ideals of founders. one did not seek public office for private interests or
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personal gain. one accepted this office for the public good. it was perceived as virtuous to sacrifice one's private life to serve the public good. in other words, the office sought the candidate, not the other way around. thus, with candidates on the sideline and out of view, it was up to the political parties to promote them and craft and disseminate a message to energize and mobilize voters. by lincoln's time political parties had become adept at these essential tasks, aided enormously by parties organization and, of course, a communications infrastructure. now, let me say a few words about the 1860 campaign and the campaign biographies. the dynamic image of honest abe that emerged out of the illinois republican convention and national convention helped enormously in electing lincoln president in 1860. of course, creating an image of a candidate or a formulating a
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compelling message is one thing. how you promote a candidate or communicate the message to voters is another. in 1860 lincoln was unknown to many americans outside of illinois. lincoln and his image had to be produced or packaged and this was critical in the age when candidates were not visible during a campaign. in 1860 and in 1864 the most productive way to do this was through the printed word and image. in the weeks and months following lincoln's 1860 nomination there is genres of print, newspapers, pamphlets, book, almanacs, broadsides, sheet music, songsters and cartoons circulated widely evoking powerful im fuful image associated with lincoln, hard work, dignity and independence of free labor and the west as a land where rugged individualism, economic opportunity and the principles of democracy came
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together. the republican party was involved in much of this activity. either directly or indirectly through a communication net vork of partisan newspapers and publishers. and through use of congressional franking privileges. the political parties and partisan publishers did not monopolize. the publication of these various forms of printed material. recall, what i said at the beginning concerning the rise of the publishing industry and the various factors that aided its rise. by the 1840s commercial firms and entrepreneurs were almost active in producing printed material of political nature. not so much competing against political organizations as aiding and abetting them, commercial publishing houses pursued for the most part an agenda that was driven by profit rather than politics. whereas political organizations or parties produced material in order to persuade and mobilize voters, commercial firms tended to be nonpartisan, publishing
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books and engravings of sheet music that promoted the fortunes of every candidate in the race. after all, it made good business sense to meet the needs of potential customers regardless of their political persuasion. it is the home spun honest rugged rail splitter image that one encounters frequently in the various forms of print in the months between lincoln's nomination in may and the november 1860 election. most americans who encountered various genres of print promoting lincoln and the lincoln image would have linked lincoln to the west, a log cabin birth, honesty, and split rails but may not have understood completely the larger context of the symbols meaning. the campaign biography would provide this. 19th century americans seeking information regarding presidential candidates had at their disposal various genres of print matter. whereas pamphlet, broadsides and newspaper articles and
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editorials offered snapshots of the candidate's life and career were his views on particular issues campaign biographies provided in one place the most extensive amount of information concerning a candidate's life, character, and qualifications for the presidency. the genre emerged during the 1824 campaign between john quincy adams and andrew jackson. it has appeared in one form or another in every campaign since. the purpose of campaign biographies was to prevent a positive portrait of the candidate. one that would resonate with voters. they were produced by political parties, partisan newspapers, and their editors and nonpartisan publishers and commercial firms, taking advantage of the public's sudden interest in the lives of the men who might be president. there were composed by anonymous party hacks, newspaper editors
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or journalists, or budding writers. campaign biographies were presented as being objective and free of partisanship, offering only facts called from interviews with friends, public speeches, or the public record. authors tended to present themselves as nonpartisaned a meymy mirers of the candidate bringing inspiring story to the attention of the public out of patriotic duty. candidates sometimes initiated and/or participated in private with the production of these campaign biographies. lincoln, for example, wrote two auto biographical sketches which he shared with journalists and, of course, know that they would end up being included in a campaign biography or more. they were produced very quickly, within a matter of weeks between usually within weeks after a candidate was nominated. and first one to appear usually
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served as the chief source for those that followed. they ranged in length from a one-page newspaper article to a six- to eight-apage pamphlets t 200-page books ranging in price from anywhere from 25 corrects for paper wrappers to $1 for a cloth-bound book. they were distributed and sold either individually and in bulk through book store, publishing house, traveling agents or cold reporters and obviously there were some that were once purchased were then shared hand to hand among friends. and i suspect that a number of these were bought in bulk by political parties and then given out free at political rallies. there was a set formula by the time of lincoln's elections in
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1860 and 1864. a candidate's life is presented as one worth emulating, a life story presented in a series of episodes, a life story shaped by certain factors considered essential to a moral and virtuous life. in 1860 there were 16 lincoln campaign biographies. and i'll show you just a sample of those right now. this is the first lincoln campaign biography that appeared in book form. this is one by barrett. i'm just going to go through these quickly. but you get a i understasense oy look like, and virtually all of them included a piece of lincoln's image because this was a time when that's the only way people actually got to see a candidate unless they saw them in person. see what they looked like.
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the honest abe rail splitter image promoted by his campaign biographies were countered by positive images of his three opponents. of course, there was also an anti-lincoln images that were also circulated. so let me talk about the 1864 campaign. when lincoln ran for re-election in 19864 the landscape had changed for him and the nation. the purpose of the 1864 biographical accounts, unlike the 1860 counterparts, was not to introduce lincoln to american voters but to endorse the re-election of a president who had led the nation through a long and bloody civil war. both revered and reviled within the northern states, lincoln by the summer of 1864 was in trouble politically. his chances for re-election appeared to be slipping away as the war dragged on and battlefield casualties continued
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to mount a shocking rate. the copperhead segment of the democratic party was deeming the upper hand of the pro war counterparts while convincing in growing numbers of northerners that lincoln was not only raging a vengeful brutal war on fellow americans but was sledding the constitution, abusing the power withes of presidency. as proof they pointed to the emancipation proclamation, prescription, and lincoln support of confiscation of property and slaves of those who side with the confederacy. as democratic hopes of defeating lincoln rose significantly in thor? summer of 1864 republicans, even supporters of the president, grew increasingly despondent. some looked at you'grant as replacement. republicans and abolitionists nominated general charles g. freet month as their
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presidential candidate weeks before the republican convention. there were even some looking toward benjamin butler. despite doubts concerning his chances at re-election lincoln was nominated on the first ballot at the republican convention held in baltimore in early june. his adept use of patronage and shrewd cultivation of the press, awarded printing contracts and government positions to friendly newspapermen enabled him to obtain enough support in the republican party and war democrats to fight off serious opposition at the convention. continuing the strategy begun in 1862 of lincoln support for unionism and the war with pa patri patriotism, nonpartisan ship as one historian calls it, lincoln and the republicans adopted the name of the national union party and replaced vice president hamblen with war democrat andrew johnson as lincoln's running
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mate. days before the democrats met in chicago lincoln received a bleak assessment regarding his re-election chances from henry j. raymond, editor of the "new york times," and chairman of the republican national union party committee. the tide is setting strongly against us, raymond responded, reported despondently, and nothing but the most resolute and decided action on the part of the government and its friends can save the country from falling into hostile hands. on august 24th, the day after reading raymond's disheartening account, lincoln composed his famous secret memorandum. the mixed message contained conveyed by the democrats choice of the pro war nominee tied to a peace plas form espousing an immediate end to the conflict presented the republicans with a flim glimmer of light amid stark clouds of despair. these clouds were disbursed in
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the gloom permeating the lincoln re-election campaign was lifted by the news of general william sherman's capture of the atlanta a week after the democratic convention. although lincoln's re-election chances improved significantly in september of 1864 supporters of both the president and mcclellan engaged in an intense and bitter campaign that had, in reality began before the nominating conventions with each side proclaiming that the future of the country was at stake. and the selection of the opposing candidate would either result in a dictatorship under a tyrant or in the elevation of a traitor to a presidency. lincoln had many -- lincoln had many national, state, and local party leaders working on his behalf. and friendly editors and journalists mobilizing support. his state paper, speeches, and public letters were put to use in 1864 by his campaign managers. political supporters, and commercial firms to remind
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voters of where he stood on the issues. the task of republican party operatives as well as commercial firms promoting lincoln's re-election were quite different than four years earlier. however, when their candidate was an obscure western lawyer unknown to many americans. the honest abe rail splitter image presented to voters in 1860 was by itself inadequate four years later. in 1864 lincoln required no introduction. moreover, lincoln's opponents through editorials, fiery speeches, and racially charged cartoons had been defining him for years as an uncooth, hick, incontempt commander in chief, tyrant on destroying the constitution and the country and enforce racial equality. the honest,on abe honest abe ra splitter was ignored however. in 1864 it served as platform or
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foundation on which biographies ear rethed a new image appropriate for the time. thus, campaign managers, the republican party, and other supporters mounted a vigorous defense of lincoln's first term as president, reminding voters of as many virtues and as captivating life story, while betraying democrats is unpatriotic political partners and as traitors. as in previous elections print paid a dominant role in the presidential campaign of 1864. broadsides, poster, pamphlet, sheet music, cartoons and newspapers served as channels through which the political parties communicated their message and mobilized their constituent sis. various genres of print were also insured by commercial publishers advocating a certain candidate or cause or merely seeking financial profit by taking advantage of america's interest in the election. as expected campaign biographies of both lincoln and mcclellan
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flooded the market in the months preceding the election. ten lincoln biographies were published in 1864 with nine of these accounts including material on lincoln's life before his presidency. two and possibly four of these works were issued before lincoln's official renomination either signaling confidence or concern about his chances. most included engraved portraits of the president and excerpts of his letter, speeches, and proclamations. one of the first 1864 campaign biographies to appear was from henry j. raymond, editor of the "new york times" as well as the chair of the national union parties executive committee. his history of the administration of president lincoln sanctioned and aided by the white house was published sometime in may before the national union party held its convention on june 8th with less than 50 of the 496 pages devoted to lincoln's life before 1860
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raymond's books was intinded to place the president's acts and words in such a form that those who read them may judge for themselves of the merits and defects of the policy he has pursued. although advertised as impartial, truthful, and the standard account of lincoln's administration by the publisher derby and miller, it was considered -- it was considering its author and its sponsor, anything but impartial. after lincoln was renominated, raymond expanded the biographical account that appeared in his history of the administration for a smaller and less expensive publication, and that is the image you see before you. the life of abraham lincoln issued in paper wrapwrappers, published by the new york publishing house of derby and miller and national union executive committee, the book consists of 136 pages including
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john savages 50-page biography of andrew johnson. joseph barrett, the former editor of the scincinnati daily gaez gazette, author of 1860 lincoln biography produced a work in which concluded with slight modifications, his earlier account of lincoln's life with the history of his presidency up through the first months of 1864. the philadelphia publishing house of t.b. peterson and brothers issued the life and public services of abraham lincoln before the national union party assembled the baltimore. written by the philadelphia journalist david brain nard williamson it was issued in both paper and cloth editions. another campaign biography that appeared before lincoln's renomination was written by orville james viktor. long-time editor and writer for beetle and company's various
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publishing ventures. the private and public life of abraham lincoln which covers the candidate's life through 1863 and issued as number 14 of beetle's company's dime buying gra call library was published as small paperback that could fit into a reader's pocket. the cover of the volume depicts lincoln as a boy honing his reading skills by the light of the hearth fire. a home spun image that conveys a message that pervades the beetle's series that one can achieve success through determination, hard work, and persevere wrens. although the intended was to present lincoln's life including his presidency as a morales son, it also served another purpose, promoting the president's re-election. one historian searched that this little booklet was popular among union soldiers. some of whom were avid readers
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of several beetle series. among the m a pain biographies of lincoln published after his renomination include the life of abraham lincoln and anonymously written pamphlet entitled "the working man's reasons for re-election of abraham lincoln" and the character and public services of abraham lincoln by newspaper editor and author of juvenile books, william p.thare. the image of lincoln and his party and his biographers shaped and promoted in 1864 was of a president who faced the most serious crisis in the nation's history and through coolness, courage, and confidence, resolved foreskith and competent leadership held the rebellion in check, prevented the complete destruction of the union, and emancipated the enslaved. for most of lincoln's biographers the image of the honest rail splitting man of the people was still relevant as it
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was used to explain lincoln's success as president. many biographers contend that lincoln's character was as central to his success as president as it was in his life before 1860. in their view, one could not appreciate lincoln's strength of character without understanding his humble upbringing and the many struggles of his early life. surely the successes of his early life were har bon jers of triumph in this period of strife, declares thare. elements of character that adorned his youth and blossomed into golden manhood, he asserts, prefigured his successful administration of national affairs as a ruler of the american republic. viktor expands on this theme, resurrecting the image of lincoln overcoming the primitive log cabin experience of his youth through hard work and discipline self education. lincoln's character molded by the rugged environment prepared him for the extraordinary
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challenges of the presidency. as one biographer notes, no president ever encountered the same difficulties which have met the president incumbent of the white house at every step he has taken since the day of his administration. raymond and other buyigra fers agreed that the crisis faced by lincoln was unprecedented. no one of his predecessors encounter eddieitys of equal mag any feud or was called to perform duties of equal magnitude. elected by a minority of the popular vote with his election blamed by some as the cause of the civil war, lincoln was called upon to address the crisis, a task that proved to be one of the most gigantic that ever fell to the lot of a head of any nation. another biographer claims that no man other than lincoln ever entered office in our history whose duties were so difficult, whose responsibilities were so
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great or whose path was so beset by danger and embarrassment. war had suddenly broke out in the country which so long had lapped -- had lapped in the blessings of peace, plenty, and security that it was holy unprepared for war. lincoln's success in managing a long and bloody war and his achievements especially concerning emancipation are attributed to several character traits he brought to the presidency. many biographers point to the president's honesty and integrity as intragal of the trust of the people of the north. according to barrett lincoln's policy has been fully set forth in his own words, no dessem bling, no insincerity gives the least false tinge. the frank way of his has given him a hold upon the popular heart and upon the love of all
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true men such as few statesmen have ever had. by universe all acclaim he is honest old abe, writes another biograph biographer. and in the midst and trials and tribulations of the civil war there was one man whom the people felt would never betray them and this man was their own president. the sentiment is echoed by raymond who contends that no man whose honesty was open to suspicion, no matter what might have been his abilities or his experience could possibly have retained enough of the public confidence to carry the country through such a contest as that in which we are now involved. because no one suspected lincoln of abusing the powers of his office, the expense -- at the expense of his country's liberties, the people of the north lavishly and eagerly conferred upon him their trust and loyalty.
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thare gives things to a good providence for sending the people a ruler whose honesty is as clear as the sun and fair as the moon. and to our malignant foes, army with banners. another theme articulated by lincoln's biographers is that the people trust and support lincoln because he is perceived as one of them. he speaks the language of the common people, declares raymond. he has no pride of intellect, not the slightest desire for display, no thought or purpose but that of making everybody understand precisely what he believes and means to utter. thare, too, admirably to lincoln's connection to ordinary people me appears to regard his fellow men as equals and acts upon the principal that neither office nor honor can add true worth to manhood, despite holding the highest office of the land lincoln is as familiar
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and loving as he ever was and possesses that remarkable faculty for making everyone feel at home in his presence. lincoln was more than a friend to ordinary americans. he also served as a father figure, especially to the young soldiers who dawned a uniform to fight bravely for the union cause. lincoln's admiration, respect for soldiers is why the president is endeared to our loyal army and a bond of mutual love and respect is cherished between them. there are many instances of his unfamed attachment to the soldier including countless errands of sympathy and love to other -- and love into the wards and hospital. lincoln's close relationship with the common soldier, so of whom refer to him as father abraham, rose in importance as an issue at the democrats no m nated general george mcclellan known for securing love and
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loyalty of troops pop there character traits high latlighte with coolness in the face of setback, resolve under fire by both radical republicans and democratic copperheads, a superior intellect, and according to one writer, a student of providence. a key to lincoln's success and the opinion of thare is his willingness to acknowledge the hand of god in events. moreover, he is a man without moral stain since his habits are as simple and pure today as they were in his early manhood, a man who never smoke, never uses intoxicating drinks, never utters a profane word or engages in a game of chance. is understand usual in the political world. the president's moral and pie us abouts protect him against the seductions of office or honor. they move to link them directly
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to his actions as president. a strong character formed on the western frontier, molded by a strict regimen offal self education, prepared lincoln the assume the mantel of leadership and the role of the father of his country originally defined by george washington. lincoln's management of the war, his emancipation proclamation, suspension of habeas corpus, the draft is defended by his campaign biographers. emancipation proclamation is hailed by barrett of new era in the progress of the war, landmark in the nation's history for all time. the proximate cause cla mission immigration restore tractor-trailer faith and revived the confidence of those who now saw the only hope of a complete overthrow of the slave holders conspiracy in the utter eradication of its mischievous and immoral cause. reagan contends that although lincoln's proclamation had not
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accomplished all it expected it to do, it drew to our side more unmistakably the sympathies and the friends of freedom everywhere and shut up the path of those friends of rebellion. in addition, it brought thousands of courageous blacks into the union army. another biographer considers the preliminary and final versions of the proclamation, the two most important proclamations ever penned by a president of the united states. despite their hearty support of lincoln's policy concerning emancipation and his use of the war powers in his office against confederate sympathizers in the north, two biographers go out of their way to ensure readers that the president was no radical. raymond, no mod call himself, claims that lincoln consistently stood up to radical republicans as well as to democratic copperheads while pursuing a moderate course.
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his policy has been from the outset a timp rate one, says raymond, as all policies of government to be successful must always be. thare echoes this sentiment declare that lincoln with two violent factions on almost every question pressing their respective claims has pursued an even handed course that has disarmed their animosity and resulted in greater harmony. campaign biographers are quick to point out that lincoln's politicallys a stult issues such as emancipation and habeas corpus and draft are supported be i a large majority of northerners. the power exercised by president lincoln in suspending the habeas corpus gave some easiness to a class of men who attempted to obstruct the government and put down the rebellion but the measure was fully sustained by the people. not surprisingly all of lincoln
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campaign biographers proclaim the president's first term success. all stress however that lincoln's work is not complete. the war must be won. the union must endure. the nation's future depends on the re-election of lincoln. for example, one biographer urges readers to give the president the chaps to complete the work commenced in his first term. justice demands a fair trial for his policy and that cannot be had without his re-election for a second term. after all the writer argues, lincoln's re-election would secure the restoration of the union by rendering the most fatal of blows to the hopes of the rebels. thare warns against changing presidents in the time of war. after all, to change our president in the face of the enemy would be as suicidal as to change a competent general on the eve of a battle. lincoln deserves re-election
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because he had grappled with the greatest crisis in american history and yet has maintained under firm and resolute guidance a government that stands forth today as a model of national forbearance to challenge the admiration of the world. and he has qualified to do even better during his second term because he is now -- he has now that best of all qualifications, experience. he has become acquainted with the machine and knows how to run it. lincoln contends another biographer has proved himself equal to the emergency facing the nation. he has been tried and not found wanting. and no better return for the pearls encountered, laborers accomplished and the benefits derived to the country than his re-election. the positive -- this positive image of lincoln, man of the people, who had become a trusted
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father figure, conveyed through the campaign biographies as well as other, ena january as of pri was designed by his critics of a despot willing to wage bloody, destructive war while spleding the constitution in order to end slavery. establish equal rights for blacks and subjugate the people. harsh criticism came not only from democrats but from those within his own party, republicans condemned him for being too slow on emancipation, wanling a soft war on the south, and pursuing what they considered a too lenient reconstruction policy. the most have itry olic assaults on lincoln's character and presidency came from the democrats, especially the copperhead press. blasting his suspension of habeas corpus, the emancipation proclamation and other adm administrative measures deemed
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as unconstitutional abuses of executive power. many anti-lincoln publications and cartoons appealed to the racial prejudices of northern voters. one pamphlet, abraham uses biting sarcasm to indict lincoln as an infidel who made a pact with the devil in order to become king of the united states. j.f.feeks the new york firm who issued abraham africanas first, had the lincoln catechism. this publication uses a series of questions and provides answers that lampooned lincoln as a dictator intent on forcing the american -- on the american people emancipation, and other despotic atrocities.
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this played on white american fears of racial equality took a toll on lincoln's standing with the northern public, especially as casualties and defeats on the battlefield continued to mount. but while the increasing effect iveness of the democrat's anti-lincoln campaign may have weakened the president's prospects for re-election their strong antiwar stance caused significant problems for the party's nominee, george mcclellan. like lincoln, mcclellan did not campaign personally. they organized speeches, rallies, and parades and along with commercial publishing firms oversaw the dissemination of pro-mcclellan publications including ten campaign biographers as well as anti-lincoln materials as you see here. the image of mcclellan promoted by his campaign biographies is that of a devoted patriot, war
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hero, strong character who will end the war with honor, reunite the country, respect the constitution, protect individual liberties, and reject fanatical attempts to rearrange the social order by forcing equal rights for blacks. of course we know the outcome of the 1864 election. lincoln won -- was re-elected by a wide margin over the democratic opponent and carrying 22 states with 212 electoral votes to mcclellan's 3 states, 21 electoral votes. so let me conclude about the role of campaign biographies, both in '60 and in '64. the honest abe rail splitter image of lincoln promoted in 1860 was appealing to many northern voters, particularly of those residing in the western states. it was one to which many american, especially those living in similar circumstances, could relate.
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republican parties nomination in 1860 rustic, ax-wielding self-made western man of the people captured the attention of the publishing industry and commercial firms. several publishers sensing the rags to almost riches story of lincoln's life would be profoundly appealing to consumers issued campaign biographies of the candidate within weeks of his nomination. it appears that judging by the appearance of multiple editions and variance, a few biographies sold well. that several of these publications regularly appear in today's market indicates that at least two or three had large print runs indicating the publisher's assumption that they would sell. while the cloth editions of lincoln's campaign biographies averaging $1 in price is beyond the financial reach of many americans those issued in paper wrappers averaging 25 cents were
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affordable to many. when lincoln ran for re-election in 1864 he was no longer an unknown western lawyer. after three years of the bloody civil war and the wake of several controversial measures lincoln required no introduction. thus, the honest abe rail splitter image, while inadequate by itself, for the 1864 election, retained its appeal and, more important, its relevance at least to those writings campaign biographies. the image of 1860 was resurrected by his biographers to remind voters of the qualities that initially endeared them to lincoln and how these virtues informed his actions as president. the man who had become the beloved and trusted father figure to loyal northerners brought to the presidency a strong moral character marked by courage, confidence, integrity and resolve that was shaped by the western frontier. lincoln's campaign biographers
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for the most part conform -- biography, excuse me, conformed to a formula established by writers of previous works of this nature. the same can also be said of those written on behalf of douglas and breckenridge and mcclellan and other lincoln's opponents in '60 and '64. readers of these works encountered virtues in lincoln associated with candidates of previous presidential elections. lincoln's life story like that of all virtuous and moral men was inspiring and worth emulating. there was a slight divergence from the norm in lincoln's 1864 biographies, however. in these works lincoln's life story is used primarily as a backdrop to a spirited defense of his presidency. the positive images of lincoln promoted by his supporters and disseminated through print were challenged by competing images in both elections. not only were there campaign
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biographies of his opponents but there were scores of anti46 lincoln imams and symbols accessible to voters. by the 1864 election, attacks on lincoln and his administration had become as have it olic as commonplace. what effect did these competing images and messages have on america's perception of lincoln, what roam did lincoln's campaign biographies play in his re-election? one can safely assume that lincoln's campaign biographies resonated with some voters, convincing them to vote for him in '60 and in 1864, but did they energize and convince enough voters to make a difference in the outcome of the these elections? answering these questions requires documentation and evidence that are unfortunately frustratingly illusive to the historian. sales figures for lincoln's campaign buying brafies as well as those of his opponents are
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virtually nonexistent. we do not know how many of these works were printed let alone sold. but even if reliable statistics on print runs and sales were available, they would not provide the evidence that gets to the heart of the questions posed above. how many people tread biographies? what did they take away from the reading experience? what actions were reactions did these publications inspire? it is often difficult to deduce how people read and what attitudes they brought to or took away from the reading experience. what evidence does exist is anecdotal and fragmented. in this instance, all one can do is infer or speculate based on the meager evidence at hand. in terms of the 1860 election there were indications that several lincoln's biographies sold well. moreover, the image of lincoln promoted by his biographies as well as through other genres of
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print appeared to connect with ordinary americans. judging by the various symbols that adorn broad size, posters, sheet music, banner, and other campaign materials, the rail splitter image was popular with the republican party faithful and embraced by the commercial sector. that image has endured. found on the covers of illustrations in numerous books, especially those xwegeared to children and young adults and movies and various works of art. in fact, the abraham lincoln vampire slayer, the weapon of choice is the ax. in case any of you have seen that. to reiterating some voters would have been introduced to lincoln and life story through reading campaign biography and some would have voted for lincoln based on the buying graphical account they read. but did campaign biographies make a difference in the '60 and '64 campaigns?
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well, one can say with any certainty is that they could not have hurt and undoubtedly helped lincoln's chances. but lincoln's inspiring biography and the images associated with it was one of several elements that worked in the candidate's favor. critical factors in the 1860 election with a split among democrats and presence of a third-party candidate. the growing popularity in the north and west of the republican message of free labor and free soil, prohibiting slavery in the territories, federal support for internal improvements, and the issue of corruption in the buchanan administration. in addition, voter whogs showed up at the polls to vote for lincoln may have been motivated by other factors such as party loy loyalty, religious concerns or ethnic solidarity. if douglas were in another compromised democratic candidate would have been lincoln's sole
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opponent or if there was no constitutional union party to nominate john bell. and in 1864, would lincoln had been re-elected if sherman had not captured atlanta when he did? would the father abraham image evoked by campaign biographies convince enough voters to stick with the man they voted for in 1860. the inability to answer several key questions concerning the impact of lincoln's campaign biographies however does not lessen the value of these publications in terms of what we can learn from them. this underappreciated and unstudied genre provides a lens through which scholars can examine what party leaders, commercial firms, the american reading public, and in some cases candidates themselves fault-worthy essential qualities of character and leadership in a particular time in our history. in 1860 and 1864 an american
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voter seeking information regarding lincoln, the candidate or refresher course on lincoln the president, had several forms of print at their disposal. of these, the campaign biography was the only source that provided in one place the most extensive amount of information concerning his life. it would be foolish, of course, to claim that lincoln's campaign biographies were the deciding factor in his electoral victories. one can argue, however, that at the very least these works, both re-enforce and shaped readers positive assumptions and views concerning lincoln, introduced him to new voters and perhaps changed the minds of thoisz who were unsure or unwary of the man who in 1860 was touted as honest abe the rail splitter or in 1964 as father abraham. thank you.
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any questions? yes? >> the campaign biography appear before a candidate would be nominated, for example, did stewart have a campaign biography in 1860? >> most were produced before the nominee of the party was named. on occasion there were some that were published before the nominating convention and that was, in a sense, to help generate support for that candidate at the nominating convention. or, they were produced because there was an assumption that a particular candidate would be nominated. you mentioned stewart. there was a boston firm that published a lincoln campaign biography in 1860. when lincoln was nominated they already had in press a campaign
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biography for steward because they were assumed that steward was the nominee of the party. of course they had to scrap that and quickly put together a biography of lincoln.
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how trarp distributed and how many sold and how many printed, we just don't have that kind of information.
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did you have to go into people's attics or were they fairly well preserved and accessible? >> some of them are well preserved. those that were bound in cloth are obviously in much better shape than those produced in paper wrappers. you get lot of information from the paper wrappers, not only an image of the candidate but it will give you the price of the campaign biography. what you normally have if someone had it bound in cloth and the paper wrappers were lost. yes? >> how much, if any, attention
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was paid to his personal life, married life, or the death of his son to evoke sympathy? >> as i said, there was a formula for biographies, and by lincoln's time they -- very little was said about their domestic life, their private life. occasionally there will be something said briefly about the candidate's spouse and children, but in lincoln's case the little that was said about mary lincoln welcome all c was very positive and very little said about the children. i think that was still considered taboo, unlike today, of course, we want to know everything about, you know, a person's public and private life. yes? you back -- >> were these all relentlessly promotional or such a thing as one reasonably centered or --
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that is not prejudiced? >> they were overall biased. i mean, they were presented obviously, as i stated, as nonpartisan and the writers of these biographies presented themselves as out of the public goed presenting a person's biography, not for any partisan reasons but being a good citizen, i think you should know about this particular candidate. of course no one took that seriously. yes, you way over there. >> i know that you mentioned that a lot of these publications were for sale. but were others distributed widely free and then, if that was the case, who paid for these materials? >> you could buy campaign biographies in bulk from the publishers. and i suspect that the various
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parties purchased them in bulk from the commercial firms and then distributed them free of charge at campaign rallies and had them available at party headquarters and so on and so forth. okay. thank you. okay. you right there. >> were any published in another language or in what languages and were any translated to there languages, german, for example. >> the question is about were there campaign biographies published in other languages. yes, in languages? there were. in 1860, for example, there were two of lincoln's biographies that were translated into german. the german vote was important to republicans particularly in 1860. there was a campaign translated into welsh that is interesting.
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into welsh in 1860. in 1864, i don't think there were any of lincoln's campaign biographies that appeared in another language. that is kind of interesting. whether or not that is a sign that they were confident that they had the german vote soed up, i don't know. it's kind of interesting. certainly as you get in to the middle of the century and later into the 19th century as immigration is picking up, you are having biographies issued in other languages, particularly german. >> the confed reas had a lot riding, particularly on the out come of the 1864 election. do you see a suggestion in the literature in that campaign that
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an attempt was made to influence northern voters's opinions? or were they hoping for success on the battlefield? >> both. the question is about the confederacy and their interest in the campaign and role in publications and is that correct? they had the copper head press working on their behalf. and they were very interested in the out come of the 1864 election. in fact, it got to the point particularly after sherman's victory in atlanta, the battle of mobile bay, sheridan's campaign through the shenandoah valley, in a sense lincoln's defeat was in a sense their last chance. there hope if he could be
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defeated that maybe his successor would be willing to negotiate. one more question i had. >> talk about the origin of honest abe. is that prior to 1860? was there publisher promoting that idea? >> he was used occasionally before the 1860 campaign. in fact the rail splirt image was discovered or promoted out of the 1860 illinois state convention. it was the brain child of richard oceanles bee. oceanles bee knew of honest abe, the honest old abe moniker and felt that by itself it wasn't -- it wasn't going to generate enough enthusiasm. they should have something else.
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they eventually go to the long story and came up with the rail splitter. i think it was the rail splitter more than honest abe that caught on, though getting back to the campaign was an issue. we don't tend to think about it now, but it was an important issue in 1860. the honest abe part of that symbol meant something to a lot of people. thank you. >> you are watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. sunday at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. eastern time, house of representatives and curator farrah elliott use artifacts and photographs to trace the history of women in the house beginning with the election of jeanette
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rankin in 1917 and ending with the story of margaret chase smith. here on c-span 3. >> next on american history tv, we continue the look at the 1864 presidential election between abraham lincoln and general george mclellan, the former commander of the army of the potomac. university of virginia history professor elizabeth barron examines the election from the point of view of the confederates. this is a portion of the symposium by the lincoln group of d.c. >> it's my pleasure and privilege from the university of virginia who will speak on the election of 1864 in confederate eyes. this is an important topic to


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