Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Schuylkill County Backs Lincoln. . .then McClellan

Well, it's an election year. . .and by all accounts it appears as if it will be an exciting one. With primary season upon us, I thought I'd write today about the Civil War presidential elections of 1860 and 1864 in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
In 1860, former Illinois Representative Abraham Lincoln did well in the anthracite rich county, carrying a total of 7,568 votes to Vice President John Breckinridge's 4,968. Stephen Douglas came in a distant third with 422, and old John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party brought up the rear in the four-man race with 159 votes. Interesting enough, Lincoln's votes came largely from the county's large coal-mining towns, such as Pottsville, which voted for Lincoln 1,122 to 471. The smaller towns and the county's agricultural districts backed the Democratic candidates Breckinridge and Douglas.
And then the war came, and Lincoln's support in Schuylkill County plummeted. In 1864, Lincoln chose the Democratic senator from Tennessee, Andrew Johnson, as his running mate. (Johnson was the only southerner in Congress to remain loyal to the United States during the war). Up against the Lincoln/Johnson ticket was former general George B. McClellan.
1864 Election Banner. . .
When the votes were counted, Lincoln got 7,166 votes from Schuylkill County while McClellan won with 9,244. For the troops in the field, however, it was a much different story. Schuylkill County's soldiers registered 685 votes for Lincoln, while McClellan garnered 296. Of course, Lincoln won the 1864 election in a landslide victory but as Schuylkill County demonstrated, his popularity was not universal. It's fortunate that the entire country did not follow Schuylkill County's example. . .
Political cartoon from 1864 featuring Lincoln standing for "Union and Liberty," and McClellan for "Union and Slavery."

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