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Supporting McClellan against Lincoln in 1864 Campaign Pamphlets
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This remarkable collection of campaign pamphlets from the presidential election of 1864 includes 17 pamphlets issued by the Democratic Central Executive Campaign Committee and 22 pamphlets published by the Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge. Together, they constitute a vindication of Democratic candidate and former general George B. McClellan and a harsh condemnation of Abraham Lincoln, his administration, and the northern conduct of the war.

[CIVIL WAR]. Book. Hand-Book of the Democracy, a collection of 39 pamphlets. New York: Democratic Central Executive Campaign Documents, 1864; New York: Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge, 1863-1864. 33. Original printed wrappers with wrapper title, as issued. 5¾ x 8¾ in. Sabin 30204.

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Among the prominent pamphlets published included in this collection are George B. McClellan’s 144-page “Complete Report of the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac”; a 64-page “Life and Services of Gen. Geo. B. McClellan” campaign biography; “Miscegenation Indorsed by the Republican Party”; “Republican Opinions about Lincoln”; “Letter of Mr. Marble to President Lincoln” after the suppression of the New York World during the Gold Hoax; “Emancipation and Its Results”; Vermont Bishop John H. Hopkins’ controversial “Bible Defense of Slavery”; and a variety of speeches by prominent Democratic spokesmen.

Each set of pamphlets is preceded by a printed List, with the price of each pamphlet opposite its title, ranging from 1 cent to 12 cents, but most are only 1 or 2 cents each. The total cost of all 39 pamphlets at the time was 87 cents.


the crisis of a nation has been reached in which no man can be neutral. The differences between political parties are so broad and so fundamental, that there is no middle ground on which hesitation or doubt can linger.... In George B. McClellan we find the noblest combinations of the qualities demanded by the alarming crisis in which the country is placed.” (“Speech of Judge Geo. F. Comstock, Delivered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music,” p1/c1)

From the dignified consistency of his civil record he speaks to-day to every American citizen as from the untarnished honor of his military career he speaks to every American soldier: ‘We shall be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.’” (“The Life and Services of Gen. Geo. B. McClellan,” p63/c2)

there is still hope for the country. On the 29th day of this month a convention to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the United States will meet at Chicago. It will be the most important assemblage that ever convened on this continent. Upon its decision will hang the fate of the nation.” (“Speech of Governor [Joel] Parker, at Freehold, N. J., Aug. 20, 1864,” p7/c1)

I think I know something of the sentiments of the people, and particularly of the Democracy, and I am satisfied they would repudiate the Niagara letter of the President. (Loud applause.) They would not insist on the abolition of slavery as a condition. If the Southern people chose, in their several States, to abolish slavery, they would be well satisfied provided the negroes were kept at home; but if they were not willing to dispense with that institution, for which the present generation is not responsible, but which was entailed on them partly by the action of the people of the North, the Democracy would be content to permit them to manage it in their own way, and get rid of it when they desired; believing, however, that it would be better for both races that there should not be immediate emancipation.... But there is one thing the Democracy would insist upon, and that is, the union of the States. (Applause.)” (“Speech of Governor Parker, at Freehold, N. J., Aug. 20, 1864,” p7/c2-p8/c1)

The liberty of the descendants of Africa in the United States is incompatible with the safety and liberty of the European descendants. Their slavery forms an exception—an exception resulting from a stern and inexorable necessity—to the general liberty in the United States. We did not originate, nor are we responsible for, this necessity. Their liberty, if it were possible, could only be established by violating the incontestable powers of the States, and subverting the Union. And beneath the ruins of the Union would be buried, sooner or later, the liberty of both races.” (“Speech of Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, at the Great Ratification Meeting in Union Square, New York, September 17, 1864,” p8/c2)

I believe...That the McClellan policy of receiving the Southern States back to their places in the Union as they were before they left it, is the only policy that affords the slightest prospect of peace and reunion, with the Constitution preserved, our nationality saved, and the public credit rescued from destruction.” (“Address of Hon. George Ticknor Curtis at Philadelphia, Sept. 30, 1864,” p13/c2)

The attempt to raise the colored race to a social equality with the white must result in a conflict of races and the annihilation of the negro.... Miscegenation is but another pet object of the Lincoln party, of the same stamp with emancipation, confiscation, and subjugation. If the nation is willing to be led to the slaughter in a vain and disastrous attempt to accomplish these objects, let it continue Lincoln in power; if it is willing only to go to the battle-field for the sake of restoring Union and peace, let it remove him.” (“Miscegenation Indorsed by the Republican Party,” p8/c1-2)

When the ablest men of Mr. Lincoln’s own party declare him incapable, the fair presumption is, that he is incapable; when they declare him a vulgar, crafty office-seeker, of weak character and tyrannical instincts, who has demonstrated his utter unfitness for his great station, the charges, at any rate, cannot be got rid of by the glib-tongued slander so much in vogue, that such accusations are inspired by secret sympathy with the rebels.” (“Republican Opinions about Lincoln,” p1/c1)

Now, no man doubts the right of the President to utter a Proclamation; at times, it is his duty even—but a Proclamation is one thing, and a Pronunciamento is another. The one is English, on English precedent; the other is Spanish, and comes to us from Spain, or, from the Revolutions of Spanish America.... He scorns Common Law, State Law, Constitutional Law, Latin Magna Charta, and Habeas Corpus, and English, as well as American written Constitutions, and introduces here, not from England, the Proclamation, but from Spanish America, the Pronunciamiento, that is, Revolution. A Proclamation upholds Law; the Pronunciamiento overthrows Law. The President has fulminated a Spanish Pronunciamiento.” (“Speech of the Hon. James Brooks, at 932 Broadway, Tuesday Evening, December 30, 1862,” p6/c2-p7/c1)

The great fallacy, so rife throughout the world, that slavery is the cause of our national troubles, rests on the almost universal persistent closing of the eyes to this fact of the physical difference between the two races. Slavery is not the cause of the sectional war, but a blind and mad resistance to a physical condition which God has ordained and which man is, in vain, attempting to subvert.” (“The Letter of a Republican, Edward N. Crosby, Esq., of Poughkeepsie, to Prof. S. F. B. Morse, Feb. 25, 1863, and Prof. Morse’s Reply, March 2d, 1863,” p9/c2-p10/c1)

Gigantic efforts are now being made to convince the people of the North that the overthrow of the present relations of the black and white races in the South, or what is mistakingly called ‘the Abolition of Slavery,’ would be a great benefit to all concerned—a benefit to the white race, to the negro race, and a grand step in the progress of civilization and Christianity. Now the simple truth is the exact opposite of this.” (“Emancipation and Its Results,” p3/c1)

The evidence of the New Testament is thus complete, plainly proving that the institution of slavery was not abolished by the Gospel.” (“Bible View of Slavery,” p5/c2)

The slavery of the negro race, as maintained in the Southern States, appears to me fully authorized both in the Old and the New Testament, which, as the written Word of God, afford the only infallible standard of moral rights and obligations. That very slavery, in my humble judgment, has raised the negro incomparably higher in the scale of humanity, and seems, in fact, to be the only instrumentality through which the heathen posterity of Ham have been raised at all.” (“Bible View of Slavery,” p16/c1)

Historical Background

The 1864 presidential election in the midst of the Civil War pitted incumbent President Abraham Lincoln of the National Union Party against Democratic challenger General George B. McClellan. Although he had been the commander of the Army of the Potomac and later as general-in-chief of the Union Army, McClellan was hampered by the Peace platform adopted by the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which declared the war a failure. President Abraham Lincoln won re-nomination, but the National Union Party National Convention that met in Baltimore selected War Democrat Andrew Johnson as Lincoln’s running mate.

Pamphlets like those included in this collection offered voters much to read in addition to extensive newspaper coverage of the successes and failures of the war and what was necessary to end it. In response to the creation of the Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge, Union League Clubs published and distributed numerous pamphlets to support the Lincoln administration and other Republican candidates. The pamphlets on both sides encouraged the faithful, strengthened the wavering, and persuaded the undecided to vote for their candidates. In November, 78 percent of the eligible electorate cast ballots.

Although in August 1864, Lincoln was convinced he could not be reelected, General William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta in early September and General Philip Sheridan’s successes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia from August to October ensured a victory for the National Union Party. Lincoln and Johnson won 55 percent of the popular vote and an overwhelming 212 to 21 victory in the Electoral College. McClellan and Pendleton received the electoral votes of only Kentucky, Delaware, and McClellan’s home state of New Jersey.

Society for the Diffusion of Political Knowledge (1863-1865) was founded by a group of prominent New York City Democrats on February 6, 1863. Painter and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) served as its first president, and other organizers included Democratic National Committee chairman August Belmont, future New York governor and Democratic candidate for president Samuel J. Tilden, current New York Governor Horatio Seymour, New York World editor Manton Marble, lawyer Samuel L. M. Barlow, and Congressman-elect James Brooks. The Society supported the repeal of the Emancipation Proclamation, defended slavery as an institution, condemned the administration’s abuses of civil liberties, and encouraged co-operation with moderates in the South to end the war.