National Union Party (United States)

National Union Party (United States)

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The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, held during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. State Republican parties did not usually change their name.

The temporary name was used to attract War Democrats
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

 who would not vote for the Republican Party. The party nominated incumbent President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 and former Democrat Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

, who were elected in a landslide.

Establishment


The National Union Party was created in 1864 during the Civil War. A faction of anti-Lincoln Radical Republicans held the belief that Lincoln was incompetent, and therefore could not be re-elected. A number of Radical Republicans formed a party called the Radical Democracy Party, and a few hundred delegates convened in Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

 starting on May 31, 1864, eventually nominating John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

, who had also been the Republicans' first presidential standard-bearer during the 1856 U.S. presidential election
United States presidential election, 1856
The United States presidential election of 1856 was an unusually heated contest that led to the election of James Buchanan, the ambassador to the United Kingdom. Republican candidate John C. Frémont condemned the Kansas–Nebraska Act and crusaded against the expansion of slavery, while Democrat...

.

Baltimore convention


Republicans loyal to Lincoln created a new name for their party in convention at Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 during the first week in June 1864, in order to accommodate the War Democrats
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

 who supported the war and wished to separate themselves from the Copperheads
Copperheads (politics)
The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats "Copperheads," likening them to the venomous snake...

. This is the main reason why War Democrat Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 was selected to be the Vice Presidential
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 nominee; then-current Vice President Hannibal Hamlin
Hannibal Hamlin
Hannibal Hamlin was the 15th Vice President of the United States , serving under President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War...

 was not nominated. The National Unionists supporting the Lincoln-Johnson ticket also hoped that the new party would stress the national character of the war.

The convention's temporary chairman, Robert Jefferson Breckinridge
Robert Jefferson Breckinridge
Robert Jefferson Breckinridge was a politician and Presbyterian minister. He was a member of the Breckinridge family of Kentucky, the son of Senator John Breckinridge....

 of Kentucky, explained that he could support Lincoln on this new ticket because:
As a Union party I will follow you to the ends of the earth, and to the gates of death. But as an Abolition
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 party, as a Republican party, as a Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 party, as a Democratic party, as an American [Know-Nothing] party, I will not follow you one foot."


News of his nomination at the 1864 National Union Convention
1864 Republican National Convention
The 1864 Republican National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States, took place from June 7 to June 8, 1864 in Baltimore, Maryland....

 elicited Lincoln's famous response on June 9, 1864:

In August 1864, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that, if he should lose the election, he would nonetheless defeat the Confederacy by an all-out military effort before turning over the White House:

Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope.

Changing mood


The complexion of the war changed as the election approached. Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's last victory in battle occurred June 3, 1864, at Cold Harbor. Union General Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's aggressive tactics began to bear fruit that summer. Admiral David Farragut
David Farragut
David Glasgow Farragut was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy. He is remembered in popular culture for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, usually paraphrased: "Damn the...

 successfully shut down Mobile Bay as a Confederate resource in the Battle of Mobile Bay
Battle of Mobile Bay
The Battle of Mobile Bay of August 5, 1864, was an engagement of the American Civil War in which a Federal fleet commanded by Rear Adm. David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Adm...

, August 3-23, 1864. Confederate General John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood
John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

 surrendered Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

, on September 1, 1864, to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

. The occupation of the city boosted both the Northern spirit and the Lincoln campaign.

Frémont withdraws


Frémont and his fellow Republicans hated their former ally, U.S. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair
Montgomery Blair
Montgomery Blair , the son of Francis Preston Blair, elder brother of Francis Preston Blair, Jr. and cousin of B. Gratz Brown, was a politician and lawyer from Maryland...

. Frémont, aware that his candidacy could result in victory for the Democrats, made a deal to drop out of the presidential race in exchange for Blair's removal from office. On September 22, 1864, Frémont dropped out of the race. On September 23, Lincoln asked for, and received, Blair's resignation. The National Union ticket went on to win handily in the election of 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, defeating the Democratic ticket of General George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

, whom Lincoln had previously relieved of his command, and George H. Pendleton
George H. Pendleton
George Hunt Pendleton was a Representative and a Senator from Ohio. Nicknamed "Gentleman George" for his demeanor, he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States during the Civil War in 1864, running as a peace Democrat with war Democrat George B. McClellan; they lost to...

.

Election


In the 1864 Congressional Elections
United States House election, 1864
Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1864 to elect Representatives to the 39th United States Congress. The election coincided with the presidential election of 1864, in which President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected....

, the party won 42 Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 seats (out of 54 senators seated, not including vacancies due to the secession of Confederate states), and 149 seats (out of 193) in the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. These candidates ran under various party names, including National Union, Republican and Unconditional Union, but were part of the overall Republican/National Union effort.

Post-Lincoln


Upon Lincoln's death in 1865, Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 became the only other National Union President.

After the bitter break with the Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies, Johnson used federal patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

 to build up a party of loyalists, but it proved to be unsuccessful. Johnson's friends sponsored the 1866 National Union Convention
National Union Convention
The National Union Convention was held on August 14, 15 , and 16 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The convention was called in advance of the mid-year elections of 1866 in an attempt to help president Johnson,...

 in August 1866 in Philadelphia as part of his attempt at maintaining a coalition of supporters. The convention sought to bring together moderate and conservative Republicans and defecting Democrats and forge an unbeatable coalition behind President Andrew Johnson and his Reconstruction policy.

In the fall of 1866 Johnson embarked upon a speaking tour (known as the "Swing Around the Circle
Swing Around the Circle
Swing Around the Circle refers to a disastrous speaking campaign undertaken by U.S. President Andrew Johnson August 27 - September 15, 1866, in which he tried to gain support for his mild Reconstruction policies and for his preferred candidates in the forthcoming midterm Congressional election...

") before the 1866 Congressional elections to attempt to garner support for his policies. His swing was heavily ridicule
Ridicule
Ridicule is a 1996 French film set in the 18th century at the decadent court of Versailles, where social status can rise and fall based on one's ability to mete out witty insults and avoid ridicule oneself...

d and proved ineffective as more of his opponents were elected. Republican National Committee
Republican National Committee
The Republican National Committee is an American political committee that provides national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. It is...

 chairman Henry Jarvis Raymond
Henry Jarvis Raymond
Henry Jarvis Raymond was an American journalist and politician and founder of The New York Times.-Early life and ancestors:...

 (1864-1866) lost the regard of the Republicans for his participation in the convention. The National Union movement became little more than the Democratic Party in a new form as Republicans left the movement and returned to the old party fold by the fall.

The last congressman to represent the National Union Party ended his affiliation with the party in March 1867. Andrew Johnson was impeached
Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president....

 by the Republican-led House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 in 1868, and he was acquitted in the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 by one vote. Upon the 1869 expiration of Johnson's only term as U.S. President, the National Union Party came to an end. The platform adopted at the 1868 Republican National Convention
1868 Republican National Convention
The 1868 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held in Crosby's Opera House, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, on May 20 to May 21, 1868....

 strongly repudiated President Johnson, while the platform adopted by the 1868 Democratic National Convention
1868 Democratic National Convention
The 1868 Democratic National Convention was held at Tammany Hall in New York City. Although former Governor from New York Horatio Seymour was nominated as the unanimous candidate for President, he stood virtually no chance of defeating the hero of the Civil War, Republican candidate Ulysses S. Grant...

 thanked Johnson, but did not nominate him.

Meanwhile the mainline Republicans decided at their 1868 national convention to use the term the "National Union Republican Convention." In 1872, all reference to "Union" had disappeared. Historians regard the initial National Union coalition assembled in 1864 as part of the Republican Party lineage and heritage.

Later uses


John Anderson
John B. Anderson
John Bayard Anderson is a former United States Congressman and Presidential candidate from Illinois. He was a U.S. Representative from the 16th Congressional District of Illinois for ten terms from 1961 through 1981 and an Independent candidate in the 1980 presidential election. He was previously...

 garnered 6.6% of the popular vote in 1980 running on the "National Unity Party" ballot line. Anderson, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, came in third behind Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and the Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

.

See also

  • History of the United States Republican Party
    History of the United States Republican Party
    The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous...

  • History of the United States Democratic Party
    History of the United States Democratic Party
    The history of the Democratic Party of the United States is an account of the oldest political party in the United States and arguably the oldest democratic party in the world....

  • National Union Convention
    National Union Convention
    The National Union Convention was held on August 14, 15 , and 16 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The convention was called in advance of the mid-year elections of 1866 in an attempt to help president Johnson,...