An Uncertain Message: Calling the SCV to Account

Take a look at the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  It exists to honor the service of the Confederate “citizen soldier”: the organization reminds us that “the  tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”  Finally, “Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans is open to all male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces.”

Here’s where things get tricky.  Continue reading

The Election of 1868

Republicans entered the presidential election year of 1868 aware of the lessons taught them by the outcome of the elections of 1866 and 1867.  Basically, emphasizing wartime sentiments bolstered the party’s chances, while emphasizing the party’s commitment to black rights chipped away at the party’s base in the North, where not all that many Republicans had to defect in closely-contested states in order for Democrats to secure a triumph.  Moreover, in the last presidential election, the enormity of Lincoln’s triumph in the electoral college obscured the fact that 45% of the northern electorate preferred George B. McClellan and the Democratic party in the wake of a series of important Union victories in the three months prior to election day.  One could treat the election of 1864 as demonstrating Republican maximum strength in the North.  With the war over, that strength might well decline … unless you could convince enough voters that the war wasn’t really over, that the fruits of Union victory might be sacrificed should the Democrats (supported by the votes of former Confederates) gain office.

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