War Democrats

War Democrats

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War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected 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...

/Peace Democrats who controlled the party. The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 and supported the policies of Republican Party 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...

 when 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...

 broke out a few months after his win in the 1860 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

.

Recognizing the importance of the War Democrats, the Republican Party changed its name 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. The National Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

 nominated the incumbent president and "former" Republican Lincoln for president and "former" 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...

 for vice president. As a result many War Democrats could support Lincoln's Civil War policies, while avoiding the "Republican" ticket. While a large number of Republican dissidents had maintained an entity separate from the National Union party leading up to the 1864 election, they withdrew their ticket for fear that splitting the vote would allow the Copperhead Democrats and their "peace at all costs" ticket to possibly win the election. The National Union ticket won 42 of 54 available 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 and 149 of 193 available 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...

 seats.

Following Lincoln's 1865 assassination
Abraham Lincoln assassination
The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of...

, National Union Vice President and War Democrat Johnson became President. In the 1868 lead up to the first post-Civil War presidential election
United States presidential election, 1868
The United States presidential election of 1868 was the first presidential election to take place after the American Civil War, during the period referred to as Reconstruction...

, President Johnson stood as a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, though he never finished higher than a distant second in the 22 ballots cast at the Democratic 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...

.

Lincoln appointed other War Democrats to high civil and military offices. Some joined the Republican Party, while others remained Democrats.

Prominent War Democrats included:
  • 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...

    , the U.S. senator, then military governor of Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

     who was elected Vice President in 1864 on a ticket with Lincoln, and became President after Lincoln's assassination
  • John Brough
    John Brough
    John Brough was a War Democrat politician from Ohio. He served as the 26th Governor of Ohio during the final years of the American Civil War, dying in office of gangrene shortly after the war concluded....

    , Governor of Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

  • Benjamin F. Butler
    Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician)
    Benjamin Franklin Butler was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts....

    , Congressman from Massachusetts; Union general
  • John Adams Dix
    John Adams Dix
    John Adams Dix was an American politician from New York. He served as Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Senator, and the 24th Governor of New York. He was also a Union major general during the Civil War.-Early life and career:...

    , of New York, Buchanan's Secretary of the Treasury, Union general
  • Stephen A. Douglas
    Stephen A. Douglas
    Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

    , Senator from Illinois; Democratic Party's northern candidate in the presidential election of 1860
    United States presidential election, 1860
    The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

    , who died a few weeks into the war
  • 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...

    , storekeeper in Illinois; Union general
  • Joseph Holt
    Joseph Holt
    General Joseph Holt was a leading member of the Buchanan administration and was Judge Advocate General of the United States Army, most notably during the Lincoln assassination trials.-Early life:...

    , Kentucky; Buchanan's Secretary of War; Lincoln's Judge-Advocate General of the Army
  • Francis Kernan
    Francis Kernan
    Francis Kernan was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He was a U.S. Senator from 1875 to 1881....

    , Congressman from New York
  • John A. Logan
    John A. Logan
    John Alexander Logan was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President...

    , Congressman from Illinois; Union 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...

    , railroad president; Union general; Democratic presidential nominee in 1864
  • Joel Parker
    Joel Parker
    Joel Parker was an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 20th Governor of New Jersey from 1863–1866 and from 1871-1874.-Early life, family:...

    , Governor of New Jersey
    Governor of New Jersey
    The Office of the Governor of New Jersey is the executive branch for the U.S. state of New Jersey. The office of Governor is an elected position, for which elected officials serve four year terms. While individual politicians may serve as many terms as they can be elected to, Governors cannot be...

  • David Tod
    David Tod
    David Tod was a politician and industrialist from the U.S. state of Ohio. As the 25th Governor of Ohio, Tod gained recognition for his forceful and energetic leadership during the American Civil War....

    , Governor of Ohio
  • Edwin M. Stanton
    Edwin M. Stanton
    Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

    , Ohio; Buchanan
    James Buchanan
    James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

    's Attorney General and Lincoln's Secretary of War
    United States Secretary of War
    The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

  • Michael Crawford Kerr, 32nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
    Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
    The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

    from December 6, 1875 to August 19, 1876