lincoln_essay - America Won't Always Do What's Best for...

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America Won’t Always Do What’s Best for Horses Crossing Rivers The year was 1864, and .58 caliber “Minie ball” bullets littered the already blood- spattered earth. President Lincoln paced in the Oval Office, worried, seeing little progress made in this war – a war ironically meant to unify the nation but instead divided it – the Civil War. The tension in the atmosphere was thick enough to slice through with a blunt bayonet. To make matters even more taxing, it was election year. All eyes twitched spasmodically from the limb-strewn battlefields and the failing war effort to President Lincoln, on the verge of a nomination for the presidential election. But re- election for Lincoln was not imminent. During this war-torn era, the election process proved to be quite a struggle indeed. Many Republicans, observing the arduous conditions of the nation, realizing that significant advances were yet to be made in a war that threw the United States into a frenzied state of division, were unsure about nominating Lincoln as the Republican candidate in the 1864 election. Horace Greeley, then editor of the New York Tribune , stated, “Mr. Lincoln is already beaten. He cannot be elected. And we must have another ticket to save us from utter overthrow." (Fenimore) However, despite the lack of enthusiastic support, Lincoln was in fact nominated to carry the Republican ticket for the Presidency – possibly due to the fact that there weren’t many other viable options for a Republican candidate. Throughout the wartime campaign, there was much criticism, one of them being that if the Union did win the war, Lincoln would most likely be “too soft” on the South – in which case, all the bloodshed would prove to be essentially futile. (McNamee) Many 1
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politicians wanted a more stringent punishment for the Confederacy’s attempt to secede from the Union. The Democratic candidate who was expected to offer such fair retribution to the Confederate states was George McClellan. McClellan was an advocate of slavery and a former general who was dismissed by Lincoln from the position of head of the Union army – which, it is safe to assume, gave the 1864 election a somewhat embittered air. (Cooper) As the November election approached, all the elements seemed to be piling up against Lincoln’s re-election: an unsuccessful war, and most politicians doubting Lincoln’s ability to end the war swiftly and bring peace to the nation once again. The race was close, and no one could tell for sure whether McClellan would sit in the Oval Office for the next four years or whether Lincoln would keep his seat. Slowly, as the election drew nearer, the tides of war began to shift in the Union’s favor. A wave of spirit generated by Grant’s most recent successes on the battlefields renewed support for Lincoln from Republicans and Democrats alike. Election Day arrived at last. The race had been close for months – making it possible for either candidate to win. Strangely enough, the results of the election were quite unexpected – and were very contrary to the events of the past months.
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