The Washington Post Does It Again

It gave a forum to none other than Brag Bowling … again.

Absentee ballots
Memorandum Aug. 23, 1864, from Abraham Lincoln to his Cabinet in a sealed envelope to be opened only after the November election:

“This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; so he will have secured his election on such grounds that he cannot save it afterwards.”

Lincoln was simply reading the tea leaves. Four years of horrific fighting with massive casualties, high living costs, opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation, continuation of the draft and opposition to his political and unconstitutional policies (such as the denial of the writ of habeas corpus, mass arrests and closure of opposition newspapers) had left his popularity at low ebb. Tactical losses from the Wilderness to Petersburg produced 65,000 casualties. The unpopular war seemed no closer to ending than in 1861.

George McClellan was considered a formidable challenger whose party’s platform included ending the war and Confederate independence, although McClellan rejected that part in his letter accepting the nomination.

The mid-term 1862 elections proved disastrous to the Republican Party with congressional losses in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana and Lincoln’s home state of Illinois.

Lincoln had significant opposition in the Republican Party. The Radical Republicans doubted Lincoln’s fervor to end slavery and thought his Reconstruction plan was not punitive enough to the South.

Prospects brightened greatly with victories in Mobile Bay, the Shenandoah Valley and Atlanta on Sept. 6, 1864. Still, a November victory was uncertain. What could he do to guarantee a victory?

The answer lay in the novel use of absentee ballots. Letting American troops vote absentee while in the field had not been done before. Lincoln banked on the hope that the soldiers would support him and continue with the war to validate their sacrifices. Many thought this could lead to corruption. Blank absentee ballots showed up throughout the army. Whole regiments were given furloughs to return home and vote. Lincoln took it a step further. In many polling precincts, armed Union troops intimidated voters. His electoral victory in New York has been credited to the menacing presence of soldiers. Accusations of voter fraud were made in nearly every state. Lincoln was reelected on Nov. 8, 1864. As he hoped, the army ballots proved decisive. The horrific war and subsequent Reconstruction would proceed as Lincoln planned.

Congratulatory letters poured in. Two of note came from European supporter Karl Marx writing on behalf of the International Working Men’s Association.

By the way, Mr. Bowling is the director of the Stephen D. Lee Institute, an educational group established by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Really.

10 thoughts on “The Washington Post Does It Again

  1. Brad September 13, 2014 / 4:40 am

    It’s hard to understand why in a group of distinguished commentators they would give a nut job like him a platform.

  2. Ira Berkowitz September 13, 2014 / 5:16 am

    Reader be ware.

  3. monodisperse September 13, 2014 / 5:32 am

    None of which seems out of line with current scholarship, if maybe a bit spun. Remember Dana candidly stating “All the power and influence of the War Department … was employed to secure the re-election of Mr. Lincoln.”. Surely it’s “play the game, not the man”, and to do otherwise seems very partisan.

  4. OhioGuy September 13, 2014 / 7:02 am

    Well, absentee ballots for soldiers were used in the 1863 gubernatorial election in Ohio. So it wasn’t a dastardly idea dreamed up by Lincoln in 1864. Soliders did vote overwhelmingly Republican. There was some intimidation by soldiers on furlough of voters in at least one Northwest Ohio county, a Copperhead stronghold, but it was doubtful that it affected the statewide result very much.

  5. jfepperson September 13, 2014 / 8:12 am

    The sad thing is they consider him a Civil War “expert.”

  6. Joshism September 13, 2014 / 9:10 am

    “Congratulatory letters poured in. Two of note came from European supporter Karl Marx writing on behalf of the International Working Men’s Association.”

    Ah, the classic “Somebody I think is bad supports your opinion/action therefore your opinion/action is bad” argument.

    In other news, it’s a terrible thing to be a teetotaler because Hitler didn’t drink alcohol but Winston Churchill did.

  7. John Foskett September 13, 2014 / 10:02 am

    The Stephen D. Lee Institute looks like another propaganda operation masquerading as an educational entity. I wonder if Baghdad Bob Ph.D. is on the faculty. From the website:

    The Stephen D. Lee Institute’s goal is to organize accomplished and distinguished professional scholarship to inform our members and the general public of the Southern side of the war. To that end the Institute makes available recognized scholars to present such subjects as states’ rights and the Constitutional aspects of the war; economic motives for invasion of the South; the dubious benevolence behind the slavery issue; Union Army war crimes and other unsavory aspects of the war against the South in 1861–1865; and other aspects of the true causes and nature of the war.

    • Jimmy Dick September 13, 2014 / 1:00 pm

      I wonder if Ed Bearss knows he is listed on the Institute’s faculty with Thomas DiLorenzo?

      • John Foskett September 14, 2014 / 10:20 am

        I sincerely hope that Bearss, Krick, and Brown, at least, would ask that their names be disassociated from this outfit after reading its agenda. I’m not surprised that they salute Maxwell, however, after he and Turner laid that cinematic gong show on the public in 2003.

  8. The other Susan September 13, 2014 / 11:20 am

    I love how he throws in random true statments so that it it our fault if we assume they have anything to do with his point.
    Lincoln had significant opposition in the Republican Party. The Radical Republicans doubted Lincoln’s fervor to end slavery and thought his Reconstruction plan was not punitive enough to the South.
    Oh okay, so I’m suposed to think they didn’t vote for Lincoln.

    Accusations of voter fraud were made in nearly every state.

    You could probably insert this same phrase before a counless number of presidents who were elected. Accusations of course not actual confirmed fraud. Oh and by the way who was it that was accused of the fraud? Cause looking at New York the answer is the Democrats.

    The horrific war and subsequent Reconstruction would proceed as Lincoln planned

    Oh no, gasp, reconstruction! I guess this is another fellow who thinks the KKK did great things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s