As armies marched across Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky in the fall of 1862, back in Mount Vernon, Lecky Harper was promoting Democratic candidates in the 1862 elections.
To him, abolitionists had caused the war, and he called for voters to repudiate abolitionists and the Democrats who had sided with them. He believed that the Emancipation Proclamation would strengthen the South and prolong the war.
In Ohio, local elections (including for Congress) were held the second Tuesday in October. Other states held elections in November. It was an election that went well for the Democrats and was near-disaster for Lincoln.
Republicans dropped from 106 to 86 seats in the 185-member House of Representatives, but retained control through their alliance with 25 “Constitutional Union” Democrats who supported the war.
The Democrats in the House were led by Samuel Sullivan “Sunset” Cox of Columbus, who was married to a Buckingham of Zanesville. She was a cousin of Catharinus Buckingham, who had been mayor of Mount Vernon and was currently an aide to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Many of the Zanesville Buckinghams were strong Republicans and some were outright abolitionists.
But Democrats took control of the Ohio delegation, 14 to 5, and did well in Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana as well. Most accounts attribute the Democratic gains to factors that included failure to bring a speedy end to the war, inflation, high new taxes, rumors of corruption, Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus and fears that freed slaves would undermine the labor market.
The Emancipation Proclamation was a polarizer. It cost Lincoln votes in the cities and lower Midwest, but he gained support in New England and the upper Midwest.
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