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During the spring and summer of 1864, Lincoln’s re-election as the American President was in question for a variety of reasons:

1.  A sitting president had not successfully won a second term since Andrew Jackson in 1832.

2.  The Republican Party, Lincoln’s party, had fractured and split.

3.  Northerners were divided over war aims - some wanted a more aggressive emancipation policy, while others wanted to      compromise to end the conflict.


At the same time, newly appointed General-in-Chief Grant launched a military invasion into Virginia, hoping to destroy Robert E. Lee’s Army. This Overland Campaign amassed more than 85,000 casualties, leading many throughout the nation (especially the Democratic Party) to cry for peace at any cost. Just how did this bloody stalemate impact the election of 1864?


Website Objectives

1. To present a summary and correlation of both the Election of 1864 and the military campaigns occurring    

    simultaneously in Virginia to readers.


2. To allow high school students the opportunity to practice their historical thinking skills, by analyzing a wide range of

    primary sources, creating their own document groupings and developing their own conclusions.


3. To provide teachers with a variety of resources, lesson ideas, worksheets and online activities.



"The fate of the nation hung in the balance of the 1864 elections, at least as much as it had four years earlier. Thompson's comprehensive site effectively captures the full significance of that pivotal moment in U.S. history." (James Oakes, City University of New York)


"Roxanne Thompson’s tightly focused “War and Politics:  Lincoln, Virginia, and the Election of 1864” packs a number of primary sources into a small site.  Thompson allows users to explore letters, military dispatches, and newspaper articles to delve deep into the relationship between Grant’s Overland Campaign and the election of 1864.  Her site’s close readings and range of activities make this an especially useful (and easy to use) module." (Anne Sarah Rubin, University of Maryland / Baltimore)


"Roxanne Thompson's "War & Politics in the 1864 Election" vividly demonstrates the uniqueness of that pivotal election, and it does so by both a practical and substantive use of documents.  She finds a nice balance between political and military matters which in turn shows that nothing was inevitable about this amazing, dangerous and transforming electoral campaign.  This is a marvelous teaching web site that can allow any teacher - through rich context and a great story - to show students why elections really matter.  Perhaps it could even make young people want to vote, knowing that it counts even when we are not in a civil war." (David W. Blight, Yale University)


"The Confederate state of Virginia did not participate in the Union presidential election of 1864, yet the fierce battles that raged there that spring and summer—to a virtual stalemate, and at great human cost—came close to defeating Abraham Lincoln’s quest for a second term.  Roxanne Thompson has created a fascinating and accessible website that probes the symbiotic ties between military and political success during the Civil War and re-enforces in teachable form how close the president came to losing thanks to the Virginia quagmire." (Harold Holzer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


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