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The year 1864 was a pivotal one in the American Civil War and the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The Union Army had achieved decisive victories in the July 1863 Battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg and in March 1864, President Lincoln appointed Ulysses S. Grant commander in chief of all Union armies. Under Grant’s leadership, Union forces won battle after battle culminating in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Savannah campaign, famously known as Sherman’s march to the sea.

Perhaps the most critical event of 1864 was the presidential election which pitted Lincoln against his former Army of the Potomac commander George McClellan. McClellan, the Democrat candidate, ran on a platform of asking for immediate peace with the states in rebellion and, in essence, granting them their independence from the Union. Had McClellan and the democrats prevailed in the election there would have likely been two separate nations with no guarantee of reconciliation between them.

This exhibition was originally on display in the Lincoln Case on the second floor of Morris Library from February 10–June 8, 2014.

Tags: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865; Presidents–Election; McClellan, George B. (George Brinton), 1826-1885

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