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Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system… Marcus Tullius Cicero

Among the great and abiding myths of American history is that Abraham Lincoln was swept into office in 1860 on a wave of moral righteousness and launched the great crusade to end slavery and make the blacks in every way equal. The “footnote” is that he defeated Stephen A Douglas whom he had defeated in a famous series of debates in 1858.

The truth is he was a minority president – unable to garner even 40% of the vote – and by the way he LOST the 1858 debates since they resulted in Douglas’s election to the United States Senate.

Nominee                   Abraham Lincoln         John C. Breckinridge
Party                          Republican                      Southern Democratic
Home state              Illinois                              Kentucky
Running mate         Hannibal Hamlin         Joseph Lane
Electoral vote         180                                   72
States carried         18                                       11
Popular vote          1,865,908                      669,148
Percentage             39.8%                               14.3%

Nominee                John Bell                              Stephen A. Douglas
Party                       Constitutional Union      Democratic
Home state           Tennessee                           Illinois
Running mate     Edward Everett                Herschel V. Johnson
Electoral vote     39                                          12
States carried     3                                             1
Popular vote      590,901                              1,004,823
Percentage         12.6%                                    21.5%

Reelecting Lincoln : the battle for the 1864 presidency    New York : Crown Publishers, c 1997    Jack C. Waugh United States Politics and government 1861-1865 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. x, 452 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 415-437) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Weaving corroborative detail and rich anecdotal material into a fast-paced narrative, John C. Waugh succeeds in placing this pivotal election in its proper context while evoking its rich human drama. In these pages, the men and women who figured in this epic campaign emerge in bold relief, with all their strengths, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. The result is a page-turner that also happens to be a true story.

The best historical writing is the kind that makes the past come alive. Waugh, a former newspaper correspondent, proves that history need not be dry: he uses his journalistic skills to infuse the pages with the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of those times. Drawing from an extensive array of sources, including published and unpublished reminiscences, memoirs, autobiographies, letters, newspapers, and periodicals, he clearly evokes the drama and uncertainty of that fateful year with all the immediacy – [and about the same level of accuracy(sic)] – of a political reporter covering a national presidential election today.  

Now comes Waugh with another cherry picked piece for the cult of Lincoln claiming that 1864 was the resounding crescendo of the triumph of 1860. Meaningful analysis is almost totally lacking. Even with a weak candidate – and McClellan was the John Kerry of his day – the anomaly of why Lincoln carried 70% of the troops in every state where they were under command of one of his appointed stooges and lost 70% in the one state where they weren’t isn’t explained. Nor is the fact that the “new” states were admitted just in time for the election. Nor is the fact that anti-Lincoln sentiment was at a fever pitch in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York – all states that he allegedly carried. It hasn’t been published yet – and it is too late for the 2012 elections which may mirror 1864 in many ways – but the true history of that election would demonstrate levels of fraud that might cause even a politician to blush.

Abraham Lincoln                      George B. McClellan
Party                       National Union Party               Democratic
Home state           Illinois                                           New Jersey
Running mate      Andrew Johnson                      George H. Pendleton
Electoral vote      212                                                 21
States carried      22                                                    3
Popular vote       2,218,388                                     1,812,807
Percentage           55.0%                                            45.0%

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