August 29, 1864: Democrat Party Platform

Friday, August 29, AD 2014


The convention of the Democrats in 1864 to nominate a standard bearer for President opened on August 29, 1864 in Chicago.  The convention was badly split between War Democrats and Peace Democrats.  The Peace Democrats were strong enough to have a platform approved which dealt with one issue, the War, and which was highly critical of a continuation of the War and called for immediate peace negotiations:


Resolved, That in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern.

Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.

Resolved, That the direct interference of the military authorities of the United States in the recent elections held in Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Delaware was a shameful violation of the Constitution, and a repetition of such acts in the approaching election will be held as revolutionary, and resisted with all the means and power under our control.

Resolved, That the aim and object of the Democratic party is to preserve the Federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired, and they hereby declare that they consider that the administrative usurpation of extraordinary and dangerous powers not granted by the Constitution; the subversion of the civil by military law in States not in insurrection; the arbitrary military arrest, imprisonment, trial, and sentence of American citizens in States where civil law exists in full force; the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press; the denial of the right of asylum; the open and avowed disregard of State rights; the employment of unusual test-oaths; and the interference with and denial of the right of the people to bear arms in their defense is calculated to prevent a restoration of the Union and the perpetuation of a Government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed.

Resolved, That the shameful disregard of the Administration to its duty in respect to our fellow-citizens who now are and long have been prisoners of war and in a suffering condition, deserves the severest reprobation on the score alike of public policy and common humanity.

Resolved, That the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy, who are and have been in the field and on the sea under the flag of our country, and, in the events of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned.

Continue reading...

November 5, 1862: Lincoln Removes McClellan

Monday, November 5, AD 2012

By November 5, 1862, Abraham Lincoln had reached the end of his patience with George B. McClellan, Commnder of the Army of the Potomac.  The story of the War in the East for the Union in 1862 was largely the tragedy of Little Mac.  A superb organizer and trainer of troops, and not a bad strategist, McClellan lacked all tactical ability and  could not win battles.  Additionally, he simply was afraid to risk the fall of the iron dice of war.  McClellan had created the Army of the Potomac and made certain that the men under his command were well supplied, paid on time, and well-equipped, and as the above video indicates most of his men were fond of him.  If some other general could have acted as field commander, McClellan would have made a fine chief of staff.  As it was, the Army of the Potomac was not going to meet with success as long as Lincoln left him in command, and his removal was inevitable.    Here is the text of the order removing McClellan and turning a page in the Union war effort:

Continue reading...

7 Responses to November 5, 1862: Lincoln Removes McClellan

  • My Dear McClellan:

    If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.

    Yours respectfully,

    Abraham Lincoln

    One of my favorite Lincoln letters, and one which encapsulates his issues with McClellan.


    WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, October 24 [25?], 1862.


    I have just read your despatch about sore-tongued and fatigued horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietam that fatigues anything?


    On another occasion Lincoln asked an aide what they had just visited. The aide said The Army of the Potomac. Lincoln responded that they had just visted McClellan’s personal body guard.

  • McClellan loved the Army of the Potomac that he had created and he hated the idea of risking it in battle. Unfortunately to be a good soldier one must both love the Army and then see parts of what one loves be destroyed before one’s eyes in order to win battles. This dichotomy was brilliantly explored in this clip from the movie Gettysburg:

  • McClellan is one of those historical personages I would like to have observed in person. There is no doubt the AoP loved him as much as he loved them, but none of that inspiring charisma shows up in his correspondence.

    Alas for the Union that Lincoln gave the Army to Burnside…

  • “that Lincoln gave the Army to Burnside…”

    Burnside, unlike McClellan, a general who had no redeeming features, as opposed to his successor Hooker who might have done well except that in Lee and Jackson he was up against the greatest military partnership in American history.

  • Meade was competent, but if only Hancock had been offered, or Reynolds accepted, command.

    Well, it turned out as it turned out.

  • I think Meade was competent as a Chief of Staff for Grant. On his own his Mine Run campaign in the fall of 1863 showed severe limitations.