The President's Strategy for Influencing the Election:
". . . the peace party was quite encouraging."
Within the context of mounting expectations, Jefferson Davis recognized the external challenge the election presented. After the events, he wrote: "Political developments at the North [in 1864] . . . favored the adoption of some action that might influence popular sentiment in the hostile section. The aspect of the peace party was quite encouraging, and it seemed that the real issue to be decided in the Presidential election of that year was the continuance or cessation of the war." 1 Amid the ongoing problems of the Confederacy, Davis, in consultation with various advisers, devised a scheme during the winter and early spring of 1864 for influencing the course of the Northern political contest.
Davis had long known of dissension and disaffection in the North, and the prospect of fishing in troubled Northern political waters was not new to him. He had made an overt effort to intensify debate on the peace issue in the Federal congressional elections of 1862, appealing directly to dissident elements in the North through a proclamation which he prepared for release that fall by Braxton Bragg during his invasion of Kentucky and by Robert E. Lee during his drive into Maryland. Davis told his Northern audience that the Confederacy was fighting "solely for self-defense." He placed the onus for the war on Abraham Lincoln, who had rebuffed the Southern commissioners sent to Washington to effect "a peaceful adjustment of all differences" in the months before the firing on Fort Sumter. Promising attractive terms, Davis