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Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency

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Book Overview

Here, from the author of the acclaimed book The Class of 1846, is the dramatic story of what may have been the most critical election campaign in American history. Taking place in the midst of the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An in depth study of the fight for the 1864 election:

Author John C. Waugh has assembled a very large study of the political battle faced by President Abraham Lincoln as he ran for his second term in office. Waugh brings the reader to the front lines of struggle faced by the Lincoln administration and various political parties looking to cause unrest and hinder Lincoln's chances at reelection. The book also looks at many players involved in either helping Lincoln or destroying his chances. As the book progresses it uncovers odd political gain of many such as radicals trying anything to ruin Lincoln's chances while hysteria and hype flow through the papers. Anyone looking to understand the battle for the 1864 election owes it to them selves to read this book! 5 STARS!

The most important presidential election in our history

John Waugh's book is a great insight into Lincoln's re-election bid in 1864. The book is replete with examples of Lincoln's astuteness as a politician. Although, Lincoln was a self-made commander in chief with no real military experience, he was very able. Lincoln envisioned, before his generals, that the war would be protracted. He came to mistrust many of his top generals; they were not aggressive enough for him. The conduct of the war is starting to wear on the morale at home. This causes a split in the fledgling Republican Party. The Abolitionist thought that Lincoln was too soft on eradicating slavery, but they couldn't get a candidate of their liking chosen at convention. The anti-war wing of the party believed that Lincoln was bleeding the country dry; they abhorred the human and economic suffering. Lincoln was able to out maneuver both factions and win re-nomination. He then had to prepare to run against General McClellan, the Democratic Party's nominee, who he had fired for not aggressively prosecuting the war. The Democrats had selected McClellan on an anti war platform. Much to their chagrin McClellan ignores the party platform and runs as a pro-war candidate. This reversal is the first time in presidential political history that a candidate runs counter to the party platform. Despite McClellan's reversal the election is looking dire for Lincoln in August. Although Grant, the new general, is at least pursuing Lee's army, the war isn't moving fast enough. Many people in the North are looking to a decisive field victory to show that the war is at least coming to an end. All the doom and gloom in the White House comes to an end in September when General Sherman burns Atlanta. Lincoln can show the nation that the end is finally in sight. Lincoln very adroitly allows military units, especially from New York to travel home to vote. This shrewd political tactic garners Lincoln 7 out of 10 military votes. He winds up winning the election with 55% of the vote and a large portion of the Electoral College.Waugh who is a journalist by trade writes in a style reminiscent of the great newspaper editors of Lincoln's day. He uses many of the articles as background information for the book. This was a very interesting book, which illuminates Lincoln's adroitness as a politician. As a retired Army officer and student of political philosophy, I found this to be a great book on leadership. Highly recommended.

Outstanding!

For a history buff this is a must read, especially if you are a Civil War fanatic. On the other hand, those who are not really into history or politics might just enjoy this book also. The twists and turns of the plot, the shouting matches, the suspense, and the knife in the back tactics of some of the main players make this story almost worthy of being a daytime soap. The only thing missing is the sex. Many readers will find it hard to believe that in 1864 Abraham Linclon was not the beloved figure he is today. Not only was he a target for the Democrats but also came under heavy fire from many in his own party. Had not Sherman, Farragut, and Sheridan given the Union great wins on the field in the Fall of 1864 it is quite possible that Lincoln would have lost the election. Still more probable is that if the Democrats themselves had not made major mistakes in their platform and choice for Vice President, George McCellan would have been the 17th President of the United States. The trials Lincoln faced within his own party makes one wonder just how much better he would have done than did Johnson during reconstruction. John Waugh does a masterful job of telling his story. He keeps the book interesting from cover to cover and almost makes the reader feel they are there. Of special note is his ability to help the reader keep the players in this story straight. Many people who were prominate in this campaign are somewhat lost in history but Waugh never confuses the reader as he weaves them in and out of his text. I also found it very interesting how he pointed out the similar trials Jefferson Davis faced in Richmond.The most amazing thing is that elections were held at all during such a crisis. It is a credit to the leaders of both the Union and the Confederacy that they never really thought about not holding elections right on schedule. Thanks to Mr. Waugh for reminding us just how dear our form of government is. Thanks also for an outstanding book.

Wonderfully readable account of a fascinating campaign

This is one of the best history books I have ever read. John C. Waugh has written a lively story of an extraordinary election campaign - the reelection of Lincoln in 1864 as the Civil War dragged on. The contrasts with modern election campaigns are striking. We take 2-term presidencies as if not a given then certainly a standard goal. When Lincoln ran again in 1864, however, no president had been reelected in over 30 years! Neither Lincoln nor his Democratic opponent, George B. McClellan (the general Lincoln fired because he had the "slows") attended the conventions that nominated them or made any campaign speeches once they were nominated. Instead surrogates did all the compaigning for the two candidates. Mr. Waugh's book is a wonderful account of all the lively personalities who were players large and small in this campaign. As a newspaperman himself, he clearly relishes the highly partisan style of journalism which was prevalent at this time, and delights in leading his reader to a lively newspaper quote, or to yet another funny Lincoln story. I would have liked to have seen a few maps to help follow the Civil War campaigns. I also think Mr. Waugh would have done well to provide a brief "cast of characters" listing to help the reader keep all these people sorted out. But these are minor quibbles and this is history the way it should be written - always lively, informative and never losing sight of the humanity of the players upon the painted stage at this pivotal moment in American history. If you are an American history buff, a Lincoln admirer, or a person who loves the presidential campaign season, then this is a book you will delight in.

A marvelous work of History,It reads like a novel.

The election of 1864 was probably the most important Presidential election in our History.It is no understatement to say that if Abraham Lincoln had not been re-elected Our History would have been very different.In fact had Lincoln not won the United States might not even exsist today. In Re-electing Lincoln John Waugh gives us a superb account of this crucial campaign.Mr. Waugh is a former Political Reporter. And it shows.As I read this Book I often had the sensation that I was reading this in the newspaper or watching it on CNN. Mr. Waugh also has the gifts of a Novelist. He gives us a powerful and a suspenseful story with a cast of simply unforgetable Characters. As a History Teacher the thing that I gained most from Re-electing Lincoln was the realization that Political campaigns really have''nt changed much in 134 years.Those who think Campaign finance practices are sleazy today will find this Book a real eye opener.This Book is a wonderful read,even if your not a Civil War Buff. Don't pass it up.
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