The Union army's overwhelming vote for Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864 has led many Civil War scholars to conclude that the soldiers supported the Republican Party and its effort to abolish slavery. In Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln Jonathan W. White challenges this reigning paradigm in Civil War historiography, arguing instead that the soldier vote in the presidential election of 1864 is not a reliable index of the army's ideological motivation or political sentiment. Although 78 percent of the soldiers' votes were cast for Lincoln, White contends that this was not wholly due to a political or social conversion to the Republican Party. Rather, he argues, historians have ignored mitigating factors such as voter turnout, intimidation at the polls, and how soldiers voted in nonpresidential elections in 1864. While recognizing that many soldiers changed their views on slavery and emancipation during the war, White suggests that a considera-ble number still rejected the Republican platform, and that many who voted for Lincoln disagreed with his views on slavery. He likewise ex-plains that many northerners considered a vote for the Democratic ticket as treasonous and an admission of defeat. Using previously untapped court-martial records from the National Archives, as well as manuscript collections from across the country, White convincingly revises many commonly held assumptions about the Civil War era and provides a deeper understanding of the Union Army.A few blurbs:
“Jonathan W. White has written one of the more nuanced and compelling studies in existence of the political culture in the Union military. He challenges positions currently in the literature that Democratic soldiers wholeheartedly embraced emancipation and voted Republican in the 1864 election. In the process, he uncovers a surprising amount of meddling in elections and intimidation of soldiers by the Lincoln Administration. Featuring scrupulous research, transparent methodology, and forceful argument, this study is a must read for anyone interested in the impact of politics on the military in the Civil War.”—William Blair
“Jonathan W. White offers the best analysis, by far, of United States soldiers in the critical election of 1864. His meticulous handling of evidence and scrupulous attention to the context of the times yield a study that departs from the current scholarly orthodoxy and will force a major reconsideration of who voted, why they voted, and how their votes have been mischaracterized. It is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Abraham Lincoln’s reelection to a second term.”—Gary W. GallagherMore information is available here.