Seeing Lincoln's Blind Memorandum

Matthew Pinsker

in Lincoln and Leadership

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243440
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243488 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

Seeing Lincoln's Blind Memorandum

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This chapter by Matthew Pinsker argues that Lincoln has been underappreciated as a party leader and shows how he managed his Cabinet and the Republican Party to quash the challenge of Salmon P. Chase to unseat him as the party’s presidential nominee and carried the election in 1864. It argues that Lincoln believed in the centrality of party politics for an effective democracy and that he paid much attention to details of party management, such as appointments, as a party leader. It argues that Lincoln’s use of his so-called Blind Memorandum revealed his belief that only a Republican victory in the 1864 elections could save the Union and secure the promise of emancipation because Democrats would compromise with the Confederacy if elected. Lincoln was prepared to accept the will of the people in 1864 but at the same time would use any means to win the war if Democrats won in 1864. In the end, Lincoln’s astute behind-the-scenes negotiations with party leaders in the states and Congress, understandings with newspaper editors, and management of competing interests among Cabinet members gave him control over the party’s fortunes and won the day.

Keywords: Blind Memorandum; Republican Party; Election of 1864; Lincoln and his Cabinet; Party politics; Civil War

Chapter.  6474 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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