Happy Halloween

by fifer1863 on October 31, 2015

On October 31, 1863, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon by artist Henry Louis Stephens about the controversial campaign of Clement Vallandignham, a leading Peace Democrat or “Copperhead” who was running for governor of Ohio.

Copperhead Clement Vallandigham
Under the image it states:

The State Elections
Pennsylvania.  “Friend OHIO, I thought thee hadst got rid of this noxious weed, as I of mine; and yet I see an ugly Pumpkin growing upon the land.”
Ohio.  “Not upon my land, I guess!  It’s the VALLANDIGHAM PUNKIN as I’ve tossed over into my neighbor’s field, and he’s bin and tuck root, you see, among the Canady thistles!”



Clement L. Vallandigham was born July 29, 1820 in Lisbon, Ohio and died June 17, 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio.  He was a famous politician during the Civil War who was court-martialed and exiled to the Confederacy because of his Southern sympathies and outspokenness against the Federal government.  Vallandigham was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1845 and as a member of the US House of Representatives, he was outspoken against the  policies of the Republican Party especially when it came to the topic of slavery.   He soon became the leader of a group of Midwest Democrats known as Copperheads. The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats who opposed the Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.

During the Civil War he continually attacked the Lincoln administration.  He claimed that Lincoln was destroying the Constitution. In 1863 he made numerous speeches throughout Ohio against the war and the government.  This lead to him to become one of the most suspected and hated men in the North. He was arrested in May by military authorities for expressing treasonable sympathy with the enemy.  He was tried and found guilty by a military commission and sentenced to imprisonment. Soon afterward Lincoln commuted his sentence to banishment behind Confederate lines.

Vallandigham eventually made his way to Canada where he continued to attack Lincoln and the Republicans.  In September 1863 the Ohio Peace Democrats nominated him for governor. He returned illegally to Ohio in 1864 and took an active part in that year’s election campaign. He also wrote part of the national Democratic platform in which the war was denounced as a failure.

After the war Vallandigham criticized the Radical Reconstruction policy of the Republicans as both unconstitutional and tyrannical, but in 1870 he recognized the uselessness of further opposition and urged his party to emphasize financial issues instead. He died the following year after accidentally shooting himself with a firearm that was an exhibit in a murder trial.


“Clement L. Vallandigham | Biography – American Politician.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.


Civil War era Presidential Elections

by Jim on November 21, 2009

In this season of elections, I thought it would be interesting to share a website on Civil War era elections.

Harper’s Weekly has created a website for researching historical elections from 1860 to 1912. According to the website, the Presidential Elections page features political cartoons from several different digital resource centers such as Harper’s Weekly, the Library of Congress and Vanity Fair. The website also “provides explanations of the historical context and images of each cartoon, campaign overviews, biographical sketches, a review of the era’s major issues, and other valuable information.”

Let’s take a moment to explore the 1860 election between Lincoln, Douglas, Breckinridge and Bell. First, each election contains four sections: Overview, Cartoons, Biographies and Events. From here you can learn about the events leading up to to the 1860 election, how the Democratic party split, the Union Constitution Convention, the Republican Convention and the Campaign.

One of the greatest part of this site for teachers are the political cartoons. Let’s look at one and see how you can use it in your classroom.

The above image shows Abe Lincoln as a rail-splitter and is intended to appeal to the average voter. Before giving your students the full description of the cartoon, ask them to tell you what they see, what do they think is going on in the cartoon, what does the little child represent and why are the words “Democratic Party” listed on the rail?

You can then follow up by reading them the complete description: “In order to appeal to average voters, Republicans emphasized the poor, hardworking origin of their candidate through the myth of Abraham Lincoln as a rail-splitter. This cartoon in the Wide-Awake Pictorial plays on that image by joking that the last rail he split is th Democratic Party in 1860, which divided into the Northern and Southern Factions.”

Then, have your students think about presidential campaign ads or commercials they have seen recently. Do any of those ads try to appeal to the average voter by making the candidate look like every hardworking American? I think so and can name a few but let me know what your students come up with as you review these cartoons.

Until next time….


Election Day in 1860 & 1864

by fifer1863 on November 4, 2008

The following are from The Lincoln Log which shows the daily activities of President Lincoln.

Tuesday, November 6, 1860. — Springfield, IL

  • Lincoln spends most of it at his state house office. About 3 P.M. he walks quietly to polling place in courthouse. Crowd gives him ovation. After cutting his own name from ballot, he votes straight ticket. Evening he spends in telegraph office, getting returns. S
  • Shortly after midnight he and Mrs. Lincoln attend supper, and soon go home.

Here are a map of the Electoral College vote for the 1860 election:

Tuesday, November 8, 1864 — Washington, DC

  • President interviews Mary E. Collins about special exchange of Capt. William A. Collins, Co. D, 10th Wisconsin Infantry.
  • Recognizes Teodoro Manara as consul of Republic of Guatemala at New York.
  • Tad discovers that soldiers quartered in White House grounds are voting for Lincoln and Johnson. Makes father go to window and watch.
  • At noon Lincoln discusses election with Noah Brooks
  • Receives from Carlos Pierce mammoth ox called “General Grant.”
  • 6:30 P.M. John Nicolay in Springfield, Ill., reports majority of 20 for Lincoln in township.
  • At 7 P.M. in rain President and John Hay go to Sec. Stanton ‘s office in War Dept. to receive election returns. Stanton and Sec. Welles, Asst. Secs. Fox and Dana, and others are present. During lull in telegraphic reports Lincoln reads aloud from writings of Nasby. Stanton expresses indignation at nonsense.
  • At mid-night Maj. Eckert provides supper. Lincoln “shovels out fried oysters.” During evening and night former Sec. Chase, Col. Eaton, Whitelaw Reid, correspondent for Cincinnati “Gazette,” and others pay short visits.
  • “I have the honor to resign my commission as a Major General in the Army of the U.S.A., with the request that it may be accepted to take effect today. I am, sir, very respectfully, George B. McClellan.”
  • Lincoln writes managing committee of Sailors’ Fair in Boston: “Allow me to wish you a great success. . . . To all, from Rear Admiral, to honest Jack I tender the Nation’s admiration and gratitude.”

Now, get out there and vote….