Lincoln Landmark - Re-elected President of the United States, November 10, 1864
Lincoln faced two former generals, power trips in his own party, and a divided public. In August, Lincoln was prepared to lose the election, but do all he could to save the Union; yet electoral victory came after a military victory from Atlanta showed the war was winnable.
Following Lincoln’s historic election to a second term, he was serenaded by well-wishers. Lincoln offered brief, prepared remarks, focusing on the heights of democracy… scheduled elections in the midst of a civil conflict.
11/10/1864 It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong or the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies. On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralyzed, by a political war among themselves? But the election was a necessity.
We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases.
Human nature will not change… But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good, too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how strong we still are…
I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good… FT 208-9