Lincoln suffers with the Dog Days of Summer


Forum Host
Oct 10, 2012
Mt. Jackson, Va
The outcome of the 1864 presidential election, complete with a sweeping victory by President Lincoln, bore little resemblance to some of the low moments experienced during that year. Likely the lowest point in 1864 occurred on August 23rd. The previous day, the Republican National Committee, meeting in New York City, determined that Lincoln could not win the election in the fall.
Saddled with political difficulties and no recent major victories by the Union in battle, Lincoln faced the tough reality of likely defeat and wrote the following:
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he can not possibly save it afterwards.
The note was placed in an envelope and presented to Lincoln’s cabinet members. All of them signed the envelope, endorsing a document they did not see. This was the harsh assessment of Lincoln’s chances both politically and militarily in August 1864.
1864, however, was a particular year of both highs and lows. Soon after this “blind memorandum” was signed by Lincoln’s cabinet members, the situation started to improve. On September 3, 1864, a telegram arrived in Washington from General Sherman, fighting deep in Georgia. Sherman wrote, “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.” Almost overnight this welcome news spread throughout the Northern states and changed the mood of the public. In October 1864, General Philip Sheridan would further solidify Union gains with an important victory in the Shenandoah Valley over General Jubal Early and his Confederate troops. The “blind memorandum” as an historical event, is an important reminder of the often dark days Abraham Lincoln experienced as commander in chief, and the tumultuous, uncertain nature of the Civil War.

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