Lincoln’s Last October at the Cottage

By Erin Carlson Mast

Today is another crisp October morning at the Cottage.

October 1864 marks Lincoln’s last season in residence at the Cottage, a tumultous summer of military victories and defeats, and shifting public support for his administration and his reelection campaign. 

In August, Lincoln and many of his supporters indicated a belief that Lincoln’s chances of reelection looked bleak.   One colleague of Lincoln’s wrote: 

“I am in active correspondence with your staunchest friends in every State and from them all I hear but one report. The tide is strongly against us. Hon. E. B. Washburne writes that “were an election to be held now in Illinois we should be beaten.”  –H. Raymond to A. Lincoln, August 1864

In an effort to bolster their chances to win the 1864 reelection, the Republicans had nominated Andrew Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat whom had remained loyal to the Union even when his home state of Tennessee seceded, as Lincoln’s running mate.  Together they formed the National Union Party ticket. The main opponent was General George McClellan, a War Democrat running on the Peace Democrat platform.  General Fremont, a Radical Republican, was the other major opponent until he withdrew from the race in September.   

By October, around the time Lincoln moved back to the White House, Lincoln’s reelection campaign had gained considerable momentum and support, ultimately resulting in his reelection. 

Ms. Mast is the Curator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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