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1864 Presidential Campaign

By 1864, the Country had grown weary of the long and bloody Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of the countries' best and bravest young men had fallen on the fields of Bull Run, Antietam, Shiloh, and countless more.

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Abraham Lincoln

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Many began to think that the war was not worth it, and the price of freedom too great. The Republican Presidential Candidate Abraham Lincoln thought no price was too great for the abolition of slavery and the creation of a society in which a man was not judged by the color of his skin. Unfortunately, after four long years of war, Lincoln's support was dropping fast, and people were looking for a way out of the war.

With this backdrop, the Democratic Party chose General George McClellan to be their Presidential Candidate at the Chicago National Convention in 1864. The Democratic Party Platform presented a plan of "Compromise with the South", which became known as "The Chicago Platform". While on its surface the Chicago Platform was seductive in that it promised an immediate cessation of hostilities, and a restoration of the union. What was unsaid in the platform, but clearly implied, was that the "compromise" would be to agree to make permanent the institution of slavery in exchange for an end to the Civil War and restoration of the Union. 

In other words, the Democratic party was ready to "Sell Out" the enslaved, in order to stop further loss of white lives. This is reflected in McClellan's acceptance speech, where he stated:

The reestablishment of the Union, in all its integrity, is and must continue to be the indispensable condition in any settlement.

If reestablishment of the union was the only "condition" that was "indispensable", then clearly the issue of abolition of slavery was dispensable, and the possibility of Slavery being permanently institutionalized in our country was on the negotiation table.

Thomas Nast exposed the hypocrisy of the Democratic Platform with his stunning illustration entitled "The Chicago Platform", which is shown above. In this illustration, Nast wrote out the "words" of the democratic platform, and wrapped the words around dramatic illustrations indicating what the words really meant.  In effect, Nast "decoded" the words of the platform in his illustration, to clearly communicate what the Democrats stood for . . . continuation of the institution of slavery in exchange for an end to the war.

The Democratic Platform:

The 1864 Democratic Platform began with the words:

Resolved, that in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution, as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern.

Nast points out in that the "people" referred to were clearly the white people. That returning to the Constitution of that day meant a return to a country where Blacks were property, and had no rights. The "Prosperity of the Southern States" clearly was a Democratic Promise to make slavery a permanent institution in the country, in exchange for an end to the Civil War.

The next section of the Democratic Platform reads:

Resolved, that the direct interference of the military authorities of the United States in the recent elections held in Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Delaware, was a shameful violation of the Constitution, and a repetition of such acts in the approaching election will be held as revolutionary, and resisted with all the means and power under our control.

In mid-term elections, the Government required that Citizens be loyal to the Union in order to vote, and the military was present to ensure free and fair elections, without intimidation from Treasonous Northerners, Confederate Sympathizers, and those enriched by the Slave Trade.  The democratic party opposed this, and believed that those slave-sympathizers engaged in treason against the country should be allowed to vote, and be allowed to intimidate others.  In the inset image below, Nast illustrates the free and safe elections, which were so offensive to the Democrats of the day.

The Chicago Platform went on to state:

"the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down"

The issue referred to here is that Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which freed the slaves.  The Chicago Platform viewed this as disregarding the constitutional rights of Southerners.  Specifically, the right to own slaves, to beat slaves, and to kill slaves. The Nast illustration captured this irony by wrapping these words around two illustrations . . . one shows Lincoln Freeing the Slaves, and the other shows the "old way", in which blacks were owned, beaten, and tortured at the whim of whites.

The Chicago Platform further reads:

that the aim and object of the Democratic party are to preserve the federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired

Nast's Illustration then points out that the "Rights of the States Unimpaired" was a nice way of saying, "States may Continue to practice Slavery, with all its associated brutality, unencumbered by the Federal Government".  The illustration shows a slave auction.  At the slave auction, a black family is being sold.  The Mother is being sold separately from the child and Husband.  Clearly, the family was being split apart and sold separately.  In the second image, a black man is shown tied to a tree and being brutally beaten by two men with whips. Other slaves are forced to watch the brutality, I suppose as a warning to them.  All this was accepted practice in the United States of the 1850's and 1860's.  The Democratic Platform of 1864 was strongly supporting continuing this practice as "Business as Usual".

This part of the illustration, which is the lower left of the original leaf, shows other implications of compromising with the south, as the Democrats wanted.  Slave hunters are shown moving North, and attacking Northern families that are harboring runaway slaves.  Union Generals are shown bowing to Jefferson Davis, paying homage to the Rebel Leader.  Southern Rebels are shown drinking and celebrating over the graves of Union Soldiers, who had died in a useless war.  Perhaps most inflammatory, is the illustration suggesting that if the Democrats were successful, Jefferson Davis could potentially be a strong candidate for President of the United States in 1868.

While totally undermining the Union Army, and what it was trying to do, the Chicago Platform went on to allege its support of the individual soldiers and their families.

Resolved, that the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiers of our army and the seamen of our navy, who are and have been in the field under the flag of their country; and, in the event of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned.

With the help of Thomas Nast, and his Powerful Illustrations, Abraham Lincoln did win the 1864 election.  The Union was restored, and Slavery was abolished, once and for all.  The Nation was put on a new path of freedom and justice for all. This illustration helps to show the "power of the pen", and that Thomas Nast was a Master Illustrator whose Pen helped shape our Nation, and the freedoms we still enjoy.

Source: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/democratic-party-platform.htm

 

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The Democratic Platform

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The 1864 Democratic Platform began with the words:

Resolved, that in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution, as the only solid foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of all the States, both Northern and Southern.

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The Chicago Platform

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The Chicago Platform went on to state:

"the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down"

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"Rights of the States Unimpaired"

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"Rights of the States Unimpaired" was a nice way of saying, "States may Continue to practice Slavery, with all its associated brutality, unencumbered by the Federal Government".  The illustration shows a slave auction.  At the slave auction, a black family is being sold.  The Mother is being sold separately from the child and Husband. 
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Jefferson Davis

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Perhaps most inflammatory, is the illustration suggesting that if the Democrats were successful, Jefferson Davis could potentially be a strong candidate for President of the United States in 1868.
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The Black Soldier

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Resolved, that the sympathy of the Democratic party is heartily and earnestly extended to the soldiers of our army and the seamen of our navy, who are and have been in the field under the flag of their country; and, in the event of its attaining power, they will receive all the care, protection, and regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the republic have so nobly earned.

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General George McClellan

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McClellan, GEORGE BRINTON, military officer ; born in Philadelphia, Dec. 3, 1826; graduated at West Point in 1846; was lieutenant of sappers, miners, and pontoniers in the war against Mexico, and was commended for gallantry at various points from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. After the war he was instructor of bayonet exercise at West Point, and his Manual, translated from the French, became the text-book of the service. In 1852 he was engaged with Capt. Randolph B. Marcy (afterwards his father-in-law) and Gen. C. F. Smith in explorations and surveys of Red River, the harbors of Texas, and the western part of a proposed route for a Pacific railway; also mountain ranges and the most direct route to Puget's Sound.

 

He was next sent on a secret mission to Santo Domingo; and in 1855 he was sent with Majors Delafield and Mordecai to Europe to study the organization of European armies and observe the war in the Crimea. Captain McClellan left the army in 1857 and engaged in civil engineering and as superintendent of railroads. He was residing in Ohio when the Civil War broke out, and was commissioned major-general of Ohio volunteers by the governor. He took command of all the troops in the Department of the Ohio; and after a brief and successful campaign in western Virginia, was appointed to the command of the National troops on the Potomac (afterwards the Army of the Potomac) and commissioned a major-general of the regular army. On the retirement of General Scott in November, 1861, he was made general-in-chief. His campaign against Richmond in 1862 with the Army of the Potomac was not successful. He afterwards drove General Lee out of Maryland, but his delay in pursuing the Confederates caused him to be superseded in command by General Burnside. General McClellan was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for President of the United States against Mr. Lincoln in 1864 (see below). He resigned his commission in the army on the day of the election, Nov. 8, and took up his residence in New York. After a visit to Europe, he became (1868) a citizen of New Jersey, and engaged in the business of an engineer. The will of Edward A. Stevens, of Hoboken, made him superintendent of the Stevens floating battery; and he was appointed superintendent of docks and piers in the city of New York, which office he resigned in 1872. In 1877 he was elected governor of New Jersey. He died in Orange, N. J., Oct. 29, 1885.

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George McClellan Quotes

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"Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of the Ruler of the Universe, and, relying on His all-powerful aid, do my best to restore Union and peace to a suffering people, and to establish and guard their liberties and rights." . . .General George McClellan, Accepting the 1864 Democratic presidential Nomination

"All things very quiet on this bank of the Chickahominy. I would prefer more noise." . . . George McClellan in a Dispatch to Secretary Stanton

"All quiet along the Potomac." . . . A Dispatch to Secretary Stanton

"The moment for action has arrived, and I know that I can trust in you to save our country" March 14, 1862 Dispatch from McClellan to the Army of the Potomac

"When this sad war is over we will all return to our homes, and feel that we can ask no higher honor than the proud consciousness that we belonged to the Army of the Potomac." March 14, 1862 Dispatch from McClellan to the Army of the Potomac

"The Union, which can alone insure internal peace, and external security to each State, Must and Shall be Preserved, cost what it may in time, treasure, and blood."  July 4, 1862 Dispatch to the Army of the Potomac at the conclusion of the bloody Seven Days Battle

McClellan's Letter Accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

ORANGE, N. J., Sept. 8.

To Hon. Horatio Seymour and others, committee, etc.:
GENTLEMEN,%u2014I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter informing me of my nomination by the Democratic National Convention, recently held at Chicago, as their candidate at the next election for President of the United States. It is unnecessary for me to say to you that this nomination comes to me unsought. I am happy to know that,

 

1864 Democratic Presidential Nominee, General George B. McClellan

when the nomination was made, the record of my public life was kept in view. The effect of long and varied service in the army, during war and peace, has been to strengthen and make indelible in my mind and heart the love and reverence for the Union, Constitution, laws, and flag of our country impressed upon me in early youth. These feelings have thus far guided the course of my life, and must continue to do so until its end. The existence of more than one government over the region which once owned our flag is incompatible with the peace, the power, and the happiness of the people. The preservation of our Union was the sole avowed object for which the war was commenced. It should have been conducted for that object only, and in accordance with those principles which I took occasion to declare when in active service. Thus conducted the work of reconciliation would have been easy, and we might have reaped the benefits of our many victories on land and sea.

The Union was originally formed by the exercise of a spirit of conciliation and compromise. To restore and preserve it, the same spirit must prevail in our councils and in the hearts of the people. The reestablishment of the Union, in all its integrity, is and must continue to be the indispensable condition in any settlement. So soon as it is clear, or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready for peace upon the basis of the Union, we should exhaust all the resources of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations, and taught by the traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and interests of the country, to secure such peace, reestablish the Union, and guarantee for the future the constitutional rights of every State. The Union is the one condition of peace. We ask no more.

Let me add what I doubt not was, although unexpressed, the sentiment of the convention, as it is of the people they represent, that when any one State is willing to return to the Union it should be received at once with a full guarantee of all its constitutional rights. If a frank, earnest, and persistent effort to obtain these objects should fail, the responsibility for ulterior consequences will fall upon those who remain in arms against the Union, but the Union must be preserved at all hazards. I could not look in the face my gallant comrades of the army and navy who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that their labors, and the sacrifices of so many of our slain and wounded brethren, had been in vain, that we had abandoned that Union for which we have so often perilled our lives. A vast majority of our people, whether in the army and navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace on the basis of the Union under the Constitution, without the effusion of another drop of blood, but no peace can be permanent without Union.

As to the other subjects presented in the resolutions of the convention, I need only say that I should seek in the Constitution of the United States, and the laws framed in accordance therewith, the rule of my duty and the limitation of executive power; endeavor to restore economy in public expenditures, re-establish the supremacy of the law, and by the operation of a more vigorous nationality resume our commanding position among the nations of the earth. The condition of our finances, the depreciation of the paper money, and the burdens thereby imposed on labor and capital, show the necessity of a return to a sound financial system, while the rights of citizens and the rights of States, and the binding authority of law over the President, army, and people, are subjects of no less vital importance in war than in peace.

Believing that the views here expressed are those of the convention, and the people you represent, I accept the nomination. I realize the weight of the responsibility to be borne should the people ratify your choice. Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of the Ruler of the Universe, and, relying on His allpowerful aid, do my best to restore Union and peace to a suffering people, and to establish and guard their liberties and rights.
Very respectfully,
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN


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Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)

"Unconditional Surrender." Union general who was a West Point graduate. He reentered the Army with difficulty in Civil War, but after capture of Fort Donelson, he swiftly rose to command Army of Mississippi, leading it to the capture of Vicksburg [in July 1863]. His occasional lapses into liquor were controlled by his wife and loyal lieutenants like John Rawlins and William T. Sherman. Loyal to his subordinates, straightforward and simple in his dealings with others, he was calm, stubborn and determined in battle.

Mr. Lincoln's respect for Grant had grown during 1862 and 1863, On July 5, 1863 before he learned of the Union victory at Vicksburg, the President said of the western commander: "He doesn't worry and bother me. He isn't shrieking for reinforcements all the time....And if Grant only does thing down there—I don't care much how, so long as he does it right—why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of the war!"1 Secretary of the Interior John Palmer Usher "heard Mr. Lincoln say, on one occasion: 'General Grant is the most extraordinary man in command that I know of. I heard nothing direct from him and wrote to him to know why, and whether I could do anything to promote this success, and Grant replied that he had tried to do the best he could with what he had: that he believed if he had more men and arms he could use them to good advantage and do more than he had done, but he supposed I had done and was doing all I could; that if I could do more he felt that I would do it.' Lincoln said that Grant's conduct was so different from other generals in command that he could scarcely comprehend it.'"2 The President's attitude toward Grant was summed up in a letter he sent the Union commander on April 30, 1864:
"Not expecting to see you again before the Spring campaign opens, I wish to express, in this way, my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know, or seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster, or the capture of our men in great numbers, shall be avoided. I know that these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there is anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it.

And now with a brave Army, and a just cause, may God sustain you.3


Against his wishes, Grant came to Washington and was named General-in-Chief of the Army in March 1864, in which capacity he served until 1869. "Word of his arrival having spread, he found on his return to Parlor 6 [of Willard's Hotel] a special invitation to come by the White House, presumably for a conference with the Commander in Chief, whom he had never met although they both were from Illinois and were by now the two most famous men in the country," wrote historian Shelby Foote. "If he had known that the President's weekly receptions were held on Tuesday evenings he would perhaps have postponed his call, but by the time he completed the short walk up the avenue to the gates of the executive mansion it was too late. He found himself being ushered up the steps, through the foyer, down a corridor, and finally into the brightly lighted East Room, where the reception was in full swing. The crowd, enlarged beyond the norm tonight by the news that he would be there, fell silent as he entered, then parted before him to disclose at the far end of the room the tall form of Abraham Lincoln, who watched him approach, then put out a long arm for a handshake. 'I'm glad to see you, General, he said.4

General Grant briefly visited the Army of the Potomac and then returned to the White House, where President Lincoln attempted to convince him to stay for dinner. When Grant asked to be excused, Mr. Lincoln responded: "But we can't excuse you. Mrs. Lincoln's dinner without you, would be Hamlet with Hamlet left out." Responded Grant: "I appreciate the honor Mrs. Lincoln would do me, but time is very important now—and really—Mr. Lincoln, I have had enough of this show business."5

Grant left town as soon as possible, returned to Nashville, and then came back to Washington to visit President Lincoln. At the White House again, he met privately with President Lincoln. Henry Halleck had told Grant not to brief Mr. Lincoln on his plans -- and President Lincoln gave Grant a similar warning. Unlike previous generals, Grant had the President's confidence—and Grant showed his confidence in the President by sharing his plans. Grant himself said later that Mr. Lincoln claimed "all he wanted or ever had wanted was someone who would take the responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government in rendering such assistance."6

Grant moved his headquarters from the West to the East, where he and President Lincoln were in frequent contact. Calm and thoughtful, simple and direct, Grant collaborated with the nominal head of the Army of the Potomac, George Meade. Meade was as irritable as Grant was phlegmatic. Nevertheless, the two generals were a good team. Although Lincoln had confidence in Grant, he worried in 1864 that the general might harbor presidential ambitions and sent several emissaries to check on his political intentions.

Even before Grant was elevated to lieutenant general, President Lincoln attempted to gauge his political ambitions. He asked Congressman Elihu Washburne, who in turn referred him to Grant friend J. Russell Jones. Jones hurried to Washington with a letter he had received from Grant that stated: "Nothing could induce me to think of being a presidential candidate, particularly so long as there is a possibility of having Mr. Lincoln re-elected." After reading the letter, Mr. Lincoln told Jones: "My son, you will never know how gratifying that is to me. No man knows, when that Presidential grub gets to gnawing at him, just how deep it will get until he has tried it; and I didn't know but what there was one gnawing at Grant."7

The President continued to test Grant's presidential ambitions during 1864 through a variety of emissaries and informants, but he found that Grant lacked conflicting aspirations. When General Frank Blair, a Lincoln ally, wrote Grant about the election, Grant replied: "Everyone who knows me knows I have no political aspirations either now or for the future." Grant instructed Blair to "Show this letter to no one unless it be the president himself."8 According to historian David E. Long, "Certainly Grant had a preference in this election. The war and Lincoln had raised him from an insignificant officer to the highest rank and the most successful battlefield leader in U.S. history. He wrote Congressman Elihu B. Washburne on September 21, "I have no objection to the President using any thing I have ever written to him as he sees fit—I think however for him to attempt to answer all the charges the opposition will bring against him will be like setting a maiden to work to prove her chastity.'"9

Pennsylvania politician Alexander McClure found conflicting attitudes towards Grant when he visited the White House. Although the President worried about Grant's political ambitions, President Lincoln also valued Grant's fighting instincts: After the Battle of Shiloh, which Grant nearly lost on the first day, McClure visited the White House. Not always the most reliable witness, McClure later wrote:
So much was I impressed with the importance of prompt action on the part of the President after spending a day and evening in Washington that I called on Lincoln at eleven o'clock at night and sat with him alone until after one o'clock in the morning. He was, as usual, worn out with the day's exacting duties, but he did not permit me to depart until the Grant matter had been gone over and many other things relating to the war that he wished to discuss. I pressed upon him with all the earnestness I could command the immediate removal of Grant as an imperious necessity to sustain himself. As was his custom, he said but little, only enough to make me continue the discussion until it was exhausted. He sat before the open fire in the old Cabinet room, most of the time with his feet up on the high marble mantel, and exhibited unusual distress at the complicated condition of military affairs. Nearly every day brought some new and perplexing military complication. He had gone through a long winter of terrible strain with McClellan and the Army of the Potomac; and from the day that Grant started on his Southern expedition until the battle of Shiloh he had had little else than jarring and confusion among his generals in the West. He knew that I had no ends to serve in urging Grant's removal, beyond the single desire to make him be just to himself, and he listened patiently.

"I appealed to Lincoln for his own sake to remove Grant at once, and, in giving my reasons for it, I simply voiced the admittedly overwhelming protest from the loyal people of the land against Grant's continuance in command. I could form no judgment during the conversation as to what effect my arguments had upon him beyond the fact that he was greatly distressed at this new complication. When I had said everything that could be said from my standpoint, we lapsed into silence. Lincoln remained silent for what seemed a very long time. He then gathered himself up in his chair and said in a tone of earnestness that I shall never forget: 'I can't spare this man; he fights.'"10


President Lincoln also had to worry about Grant's military judgment on the way to Richmond in the spring of 1864 and the subsequent deadlock around Petersburg and Richmond. In the fall of 1864, President Lincoln summoned General Grenville Dodge to the White House and interrogated him over lunch. Mr. Lincoln "finally led up to the placed where he asked me the question of what I thought about Grant, and what I thought about his next campaign. Just as he asked the question, we got up from the table. I answered, 'Mr. President, you know we western men have the greatest confidence in General Grant; I have no doubt, whatever, that in this next campaign he will defeat Lee—how, or when is to do it, I cannot tell, but I am sure of it.' He took my hand in both of his and very solemnly said, 'You don't know how glad I am to hear you say that.'"11

Grant seldom visited the White House between the time he was appointed to head the Union armies in 1864 and the day President Lincoln was assassinated. One Sunday afternoon, a month after President Lincoln had named him a lieutenant general, William O. Stoddard came to the President's office and asked Mr. Lincoln, who was resting on the sofa, what kind of man Grant was: "Well...I hardly know what to think of him, altogether. He's the quietest little fellow you ever saw," said the President. "Why, he makes the least fuss of any man you ever knew. I believe two or three times he has been in this room a minute or so before I knew he was here. It's about so all around. The only evidence you have that he's in any place in that he makes things git! Where he is, things move!" Unlike other generals, the President told Stoddard, Grant did not look for excuses to avoid an advance. "When Grant took hold I was waiting to see what his pet impossibility would be, and I reckoned it would be cavalry as a matter of course, for we hadn't horses enough to mount even what men we had. There were fifteen thousand or thereabouts up near Harper's Ferry, and no horses to put them on. Well, the other day, just as I expected, Grant sent to me about those very men; but what he wanted to know was whether he should disband them or turn 'em into infantry."12

After the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5-6, President Lincoln awaited news from General Grant. A New York Tribune reporter brought a report and a personal message from General Grant: "He told me I was to tell you, Mr. President, that there would be no turning back." President Lincoln was so frustrated by Union generals who had turned back that he kissed the Tribune reporter.13

Grant had served in Mexican-American War and resigned from army in 1854 to try a series of farming and business ventures, all of which were failures. He was working as a clerk for his brother in Galena, Illinois at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Grant was subsequently elected to two corruption-plagued terms as President (1869-1877) before embarking again on a series of disastrous business ventures. He never did have any luck in business. He was a far better general and writer than he was a politician, president, or public speaker.
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