Did Lincoln See Grant As A Political Threat?

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Messages
2,268
Location
Jupiter, FL
The fall of Vicksburg made Grant a national hero and a political threat to Lincoln. If one remembers, Lincoln spends a lot of energy finding out if Grant is a Democrat or a Republican. He spends energy if Grant has any political aspirations for high office. Grant gets commander of all the armies because Lincoln wanted to sideline Grant...
Herein is a thread for the quoted poster or others to present evidence for any of the following points:

1. Lincoln saw Grant as a political threat.

2. Lincoln put Grant in charge of the entire Union Army for political reasons, rather than because he thought it would be a good way to win the war.

3. Any parallels between how Lincoln treated Grant and how Polk treated Zachary Taylor (which is the best known example of a president treating a successful general as a political threat).
 
  • Like
Reactions: WJC

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
8,478
Location
Denver, CO
1. From time to time, probably.
2. I think so. Lincoln continued to direct the war and was looking for cover.
3. No. Grant was actually too powerful in the Midwest to be disrespected. A Democratic candidate Grant had a good chance of winning the Presidency.
 

Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Messages
2,268
Location
Jupiter, FL
Lincoln continued to direct the war and was looking for cover.
Lincoln was Commander-in-Chief, a constitutional duty he took seriously.

Who in 1864 would have been a better appointment as General-in-Chief than Grant? Halleck clearly wasn't effective and the appointment of someone else moved Halleck into a position better suited for his abilities. Where would Grant have been more effectively used in 1864, in terms of benefiting the war effort?

And in any case, what evidence do you have to think the move was was for political reasons rather than military ones? And that Grant was specifically chosen because he provided "cover"?
 
  • Like
Reactions: WJC
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,275
Location
Central Florida
Here here...

“Before appointing Grant lieutenant general, he wanted assurance that the new rank would not be used as a springboard to the White House. Two close friends of Grant from Galena were interviewed and gave full assurance that Grant’s interests were purely military. Only then did Lincoln proceed with the appointment.”29 One of those Galena friends was Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, a longtime Lincoln associate who often acted as a go-between for Grant and Mr. Lincoln during the Civil War. Washburne represented Galena, Grant’s hometown at the outset of the Civil War. “About all I know of Grant I have got from you,” President Lincoln told Washburne. “I have never seen him. Who else besides you knows anything about Grant?”30 Writing to Congressman Washburne in August 1863, Grant wrote: “The people of the North need not quarrel over the institution of Slavery. What Vice President [Alexander H.] Stephens acknowledges the Corner Stone of the Confederacy is already knocked out. Slavery is already dead and cannot be resurrected. It would take a standing army to maintain slavery in the South if we were to make peace today, guaranteeing the South all their former Constitutional privileges. I never was an Abolitionist, not even what could be called anti-slavery, but I try to judge to fairly and honestly and it became patent to my mind early in the rebellion that the North & South could never live at peace with each to except as one Nation, and that without slavery. As anxious as I am to see peace reestablished I would not therefore be willing to see any settlement until this question is forever settled.”31

http://www.abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org/abraham-lincolns-contemporaries/abraham-lincoln-and-ulysses-s-grant/

Here a little item...

https://books.google.com/books?id=J3m3Aw16348C&pg=PA102&lpg=PA102&dq=lincoln+worried+about+Grant's+loyalty&source=bl&ots=6E0q3FoxG3&sig=4kP6Y3s-EE62gayzaK8r2KjMbiM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwil8dvYy5DcAhUQKawKHXcwCoUQ6AEIiQEwDQ#v=onepage&q=lincoln worried about Grant's loyalty&f=false


 

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,275
Location
Central Florida
Here here...

Talk of Grant's candidacy was circulating in both parties and there was some enthusiasm for this successful commander. Following the Vicksburg victory, a Union captain wrote, "The backbone of the Rebellion is this day broken. The Confederacy is divided - Pemberton is a prisoner. Vicksburg is ours. The Mississippi is opened, and Gen. Grant is to be our next president."


Grant wanted office...

During late 1863 Grant wrote of this enthusiasm for his potential candidacy: "Nothing likely to happen would pain me so much as to see my name used in connection with a political office. I am not a candidate for any office nor for favors from any party. Let us succeed in crushing the rebellion in the shortest possible time, and I will be content with whatever credit may be given me, feeling assured that a just public will award all that is due."

Grant sees his mistake and backtracks... he desired office?

In another letter, Grant wrote:
"Everybody who knows me knows that I have no political aspirations either now or for the future. I hope to remain a soldier as long as I live, to serve faithfully any and every administration that may be in power, and which may be striving to maintain the integrity of the whole Union, as long as I do live. . . . Under no circumstances would I use power for political advancement, nor whilst a soldier takes part in politics. If in the conventions to meet, one candidate whos election I would regard as dangerous to the country, I would not hesitate to say so freely, however. Further, than this, I could take not part."

https://www.nps.gov/liho/learn/historyculture/lincolngrant.htm
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

DanSBHawk

First Sergeant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
1,552
Location
Wisconsin
Here here...

Talk of Grant's candidacy was circulating in both parties and there was some enthusiasm for this successful commander. Following the Vicksburg victory, a Union captain wrote, "The backbone of the Rebellion is this day broken. The Confederacy is divided - Pemberton is a prisoner. Vicksburg is ours. The Mississippi is opened, and Gen. Grant is to be our next president."


Grant wanted office...

During late 1863 Grant wrote of this enthusiasm for his potential candidacy: "Nothing likely to happen would pain me so much as to see my name used in connection with a political office. I am not a candidate for any office nor for favors from any party. Let us succeed in crushing the rebellion in the shortest possible time, and I will be content with whatever credit may be given me, feeling assured that a just public will award all that is due."

Grant sees his mistake and backtracks... he desired office?

In another letter, Grant wrote:
"Everybody who knows me knows that I have no political aspirations either now or for the future. I hope to remain a soldier as long as I live, to serve faithfully any and every administration that may be in power, and which may be striving to maintain the integrity of the whole Union, as long as I do live. . . . Under no circumstances would I use power for political advancement, nor whilst a soldier takes part in politics. If in the conventions to meet, one candidate whos election I would regard as dangerous to the country, I would not hesitate to say so freely, however. Further, than this, I could take not part."

https://www.nps.gov/liho/learn/historyculture/lincolngrant.htm
I'm not understanding...

Every source you quote shows that Grant had absolutely no interest in politics during the war.
 

Joshism

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Messages
2,268
Location
Jupiter, FL
Before appointing Grant lieutenant general, he wanted assurance that the new rank would not be used as a springboard to the White House.
I think we need some context here.

Does Lincoln want assurances Grant doesn't want to be president ever, or president in 1864?

A general who quits their military job during a war to run for president is shirking their duty, no matter their competency.

Further, after dealing with generals like McClellan and Hooker, Lincoln had good reason to be sure Grant would put military duties first and not let politics interfere.
 

wausaubob

Major
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
8,478
Location
Denver, CO
United States history up until 1863 demonstrates that successful generals make good Presidential candidates. Lincoln would have been foolish if he had not taken that history seriously. With respect to Grant, it took some time for Lincoln to satisfy himself that Grant had the job he wanted and his hands were full trying to do that job. Any thought of the Presidency would have been based on some unexpected incapacity of the President.
The pressure in the Midwest and in Congress generally, to do something about the war in the eastern theater was tremendous. All four appointments in the east were political. Sigel was a German immigrant. Grant was the most popular Midwesterner. Butler was a war Democrat. Sheridan was the son of Irish/Catholic immigrants. Grant over shadowed Meade and Hancock, who were McClellan men. If one poked around in the Navy appointments, the same pattern shows Dahlgren getting the key south Atlantic squadron.
Lincoln treated Grant well. While he only released control of the war to Grant in pieces, he sustained Grant through four months of the worst war news that the US was to experience until after Pearl Harbor.
Lincoln allowed Grant to get rid of Smith, and then form a unified command under Sheridan to take over defense of Washington, which was a large indulgence of faith. Lincoln and Assistant Sec'y of the Navy Fox then were able to inform Grant that the long asked for operation to close Mobile Bay was ready to proceed. Then Lincoln approved a temporary leave for Burnside, which became permanent, which was a difficult by necessary change.
Lincoln made the most of Grant's small steps in severing the Weldon railroad and then staked his Presidency on Sherman's right wheel around Atlanta.
It took some time, but eventually Grant got most of what he wanted and everything he needed and the risks paid off.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,275
Location
Central Florida
Here it is again... https://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/lincoln-promotes-grant-as-top-civil-war-general-march-10-1864-235790

In 1862, Lincoln asked Congress to revive the rank of lieutenant general to distinguish between the general in charge of all Union forces and other generals of equal rank who served under him. Congress also favored reinstating the rank, but only if Lincoln would bestow it on Grant.

Lincoln, however, had other ideas. After Union armies had suffered horrendous losses under a succession of inept leaders, he sought to bestow the rank on Maj. Gen. Henry Wager Halleck, then serving as “general in chief.” The president was reluctant to promote Grant, who had stood out as a brilliant campaigner, fearing it would make him a strong rival for the 1864 Republican presidential nomination.
 

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,275
Location
Central Florida
Lincoln sent a spy... snippets...https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2002/nov/23/20021123-102105-9647r/

President Lincoln and his advisers were perplexed. In March 1862, almost the only good news of the war had come from the western front, where a little-known general, Ulysses S. Grant, had captured two Confederate river defenses in Tennessee: Forts Henry and Donelson. But when Lincoln inquired about Grant, the word was mixed.
Some had said that he had performed capably in the Mexican War, but had later resigned from the Army amid rumors that he drank too much. Now, his recent successes notwithstanding, Grant was an unknown quantity. Where, for instance, did he stand on the sensitive issue of emancipation?


Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had a suggestion. He had as an assistant secretary Charles A. Dana, formerly managing editor of the New York Tribune, and he had considerable respect for Dana's judgment.

 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top