"The Ballot is Stronger Than The Bullet": The Issue of Race in the 1864 Presidential Election Campaign

Open Access
Black, Bianca Leigh
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Mark E Neely Jr., Thesis Supervisor
  • Catherine Wanner, Honors Advisor
  • Dr. Michael James Milligan, Faculty Reader
  • Lincoln
  • McClellan
  • 1864 election
  • race
  • slavery
The election of 1864, though of utmost importance to the Union‟s ultimate success in the Civil War and the existence of the United States, is not a topic often discussed in American historiography. Even when historians, particularly William F. Zornow, do write of the election, they often do not put emphasis on some of the most significant and controversial issues of the time, race and slavery; others, like David E. Long, seem to put too much emphasis on the topics, seeing slavery as the most important issue in the election campaign. In order to determine the true role of race and slavery rhetoric in the 1864 presidential election campaign, one examined letters, speeches, and other documents written, given, and distributed by both parties during the campaign. By doing so, it can be concluded that race and slavery, though included in many of these sources, were not pertinent issues for either party – but particularly the Republicans – in their attempts to influence voters and win the election.