Sunday Survey -- Capture and the Election of 1864

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Steven G. Miller:
There were plans to try to capture (also known in the North as "kidnapping") Lincoln prior to the election of 1864. Jubal Early was apparently trying to accomplish this during his July '64 raid, but his attempt to take Washington, and Old Abe, fell apart and he was stopped on the outskirts of the District. If, say, the plotters had not been successful in carrying him off and managed to kill him instead, what would the outcome of the Election? Would George B. McClellan have been elected, or would Andrew Johnson been successful on a sympathy vote?

If Lincoln had been taken away instead of being killed, what would the outcome of the voting been? Would the electorate have supported a prisoner of the enemy?

Thats a tough one, because Lincoln wasn't very popular. Richter could possibly add some insight to this, as I believe he has alot of knowledge, all-things-political during that era.

     Very tough one, Randal. Being Lincoln easily whupped McClellan, I'll take Johnson on the sympathy/don't change horses in mid-stream vote.

     If Lincoln had been abducted and not killed is the tough part. It would have fared poorly for his reputation as a strong, unifying leader to be held in enemy hands. However, in that case, by 1864 late, the war was turning. I'll say the Republicans would have won. What's strange is if Lincoln was abducted, with no known info on his fate, could he even have been on the ballot? Tough question, Steve. What were you drinking last night?     

Steven G. Miller:
No drinkin'; just heavy thinkin'.

I sort of think that if Lincoln was made prisoner, the soldier reaction would have been stronger than it was against McClellan. "Little Mac" was a peace at any price kind of candidate. Lincoln was very popular with the troops and if he had been killed I think it would have energized the soldiers against the south.

     That's a great point. "Little Mac" was a peace at any price man. His dismal war record shows that fighting wasn't in his make up. 


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