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“How the War Commenced, and How Near It Is Ended”: Broadside Supporting Reelection of Abraham Lincoln
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The National Union Executive Committee in New York issued a series of broadsides including this one to answer objections from the Democratic Party as to the progress of the Civil War. The Committee supported the reelection of Abraham Lincoln for president by the National Union Party, a temporary union of Republicans and War Democrats. This broadside features a map of the southern and border states with areas shaded to indicate Union control and areas remaining under Confederate control. Two columns of text below the graphic answer the questions, “Who Commenced the War?” and “Have we made any Progress in Crushing the Rebellion?

[CIVIL WAR; ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. How the War Commenced, and How Near It Is Ended. Printed Broadside. New York, NY: National Union Executive Committee, [ca. October] 1864. 1 p., 12¼ x 18¾ in., framed to 19¼ x 25¼ in.

Inventory #27486       Price: $2,400

One ‘lie well stuck to’ is that told by the Peace Democracy, that the administration of Mr. Lincoln is responsible for the war in which the country is involved. We have this asserted in the Chicago Platform; we have it reiterated daily in the Copperhead Presses and by Copperhead Speakers.

Another of the falsehoods persistently reiterated by the Copperhead Democracy, is the assertion that the Administration (or the people of the North) cannot succeed in restoring the Union and maintaining the integrity of the Government. The second resolution of the Chicago Convention declares that ‘Four years of Failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war,...demand that immediate efforts be made for a Cessation of Hostilities.’”

The map at the head of this page shows at a glance how false is the second assertion, that ‘the experiment of war’ is a failure.


States and Territories.

Square Miles.


Originally held in 15 States and Territories



Now held in 10 States, in part




Area Conquered..1,311,184 Sq. Miles.         Population recovered..7,638,062.

With a few exceptions, the ravages of war have been confined to the territory of those who commenced it. To-day not a rebel foot-step profanes the soil of the Loyal States, except that of a prisoner of war.

We have shown unmistakably who commenced the war. It must be apparent to all that the Government has thus far a decided and preponderating advantage. The end cannot be doubtful. They who violated the Divine Law have incurred the penalty, and will inevitably meet the allotted punishment. They who took the sword are perishing by the sword.[1]

Historical Background
During the midst of the Civil War, with nine states in open rebellion and two former Confederate states at least partially under military rule, the United States held its twentieth quadrennial presidential election. Although there was initially some opposition from more radical Republicans, incumbent Republican President Abraham Lincoln became the nominee of the new National Union Party, a coalition of Republicans and War Democrats, at its convention in Baltimore. The party refused to re-nominate Vice President Hannibal Hamlin and instead nominated War Democrat Andrew Johnson of Tennessee for the vice presidency.

The Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominated General George B. McClellan of New Jersey and George H. Pendleton of Ohio as their candidates. Both in their 30s, McClellan and Pendleton remain the youngest presidential ticket ever nominated. Peace Democrats, who considered the war a failure, pushed a peace platform through the Convention, though McClellan was opposed to it, and the contradictions, exploited in this broadside, harmed the Democratic campaign.

Former Republican presidential candidate John C. Frémont of California received the nomination of the Radical Democracy Party, which believed that Lincoln was too moderate on racial equality. Frémont and his running mate John Cochrane of New York were appalled by the Democratic platform and withdrew in September to avoid dividing the Republican vote and allowing McClellan to win.

The Lincoln administration’s conduct of the war, including emancipation, was the central issue in the election, and Democrats criticized the war as a failure and Lincoln as a tyrant who had violated the Constitution. Republicans emphasized the need for victory over the Confederacy and urged voters not to “change horses in the middle of a stream.” For much of the campaign, Lincoln was convinced he would not be reelected because the war was going badly. However, General William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta in September and General Philip Sheridan’s successes in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia gave hope that the war would soon end in victory.

On November 8, 1864, Lincoln won re-election with 55 percent of the popular vote to McClellan’s 45 percent. Lincoln carried all but three states and received 212 electoral votes. McClellan carried only Delaware, Kentucky, and his home state of New Jersey, for a total of 21 electoral votes. Congress rejected votes from Tennessee and Louisiana, where Lincoln also won and would have gained another 17 electoral votes. Lincoln thus became the first president since Andrew Jackson to win re-election.

National Union Executive Committee was a political committee of the National Union Party headquartered at The Astor House hotel on Broadway in New York City. Publisher Henry J. Raymond of New York was the chairman of the committee, which also included Nehemiah D. Sperry of Connecticut, William Claflin of Massachusetts, Daniel Clark of New Hampshire, Marcus L. Ward of New Jersey, Samuel A. Purviance of Pennsylvania, and George B. Senter of Ohio. The committee issued a series of broadsides answering such questions as “Is the War a Failure?”; “The Two Roads to Peace! How shall we End the Rebellion—Shall we Coax it, or Crush it?”; “Has the War Ruined the Country?” and “What Genuine Democrats Think of the Rebellion.” Raymond also authored a campaign biography, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, published by the Committee.

Condition: Possibly trimmed; very minor toning.

Provenance: From the James Milgram, M.D., Collection of Broadsides, Ephemeral Americana, and Historical Documents.

[1] The last sentence is a paraphrase of Matthew 26:52: “Then Jesus said unto him, ‘Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword’” (KJV).

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