Freedom, Union, and Power: Lincoln and His Party during the Civil War

By Michael S. Green | Go to book overview

8
The Republican Party,
the Union Party, and
Lincoln's Reelection

FRANCIS LIEBER and Thomas Barnett were unlikely compatriots. A legal theorist at Columbia University, Lieber offered radical prescriptions for wartime ailments; Barnett was a government clerk for Secretary of the Interior Caleb Smith, his Whiggish boss, and a friend of S. L. M. Barlow, a Democratic leader and New York lawyer. But their views converged in 1864, Lieber's in a speech and Barnett's in a pamphlet, both calling for Abraham Lincoln's reelection. They also agreed that Democrats had no cause to oppose his reelection, because the party had no reason to exist. "We know of no party in our present troubles.… The only line which divides the people of the north runs between the mass of loyal men, who stand by their country, no matter to what place of political meeting they are used to resort, " and those "outside of it… are traitors to their country in the hour of need, " Lieber said. Barnett described the "Opposition Party" as "the only party. In a partizan sense, the supporters of the administration do not deserve to be called a party. … Administration men are simply and purely Union men who are in favor of all energetic and lawful measures to put down a wicked revolt, and to establish a healthy peace and a sound Union." But Barnett concluded, "The Republican party has fulfilled a heaven-born and heaveninspired mission. As a party, its work is done.… Henceforth its members are enrolled only under the broad banner of Union."1

Unlike Lieber and Barnett, William Seward and Salmon Chase had run for office. Yet the conservative and the radical echoed their views. The secretary of state, speaking near his New York home after the Democratic convention of 1864, accused Democrats of seeking to "subvert the republic." Chase said, "I no longer have any political side save that of my country; and there are multitudes who like me care lit

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