After Union victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga in 1863, overall victory seemed at hand, and Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant General-in-Chief on March 12, 1864. When the spring campaigns turned into bloody stalemates, Lincoln supported Grant's strategy of wearing down Lee's Confederate army at the cost of heavy Union casualties. With an election looming, he easily defeated efforts to deny his renomination. At the Convention, the Republican Party selected Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from the Southern state of Tennessee, as his running mate in order to form a broader coalition. They ran on the new Union Party ticket uniting Republicans and War Democrats.
The only known photographs of Lincoln giving a speech were taken as he delivered his second inaugural address. Here, he stands in the center, with papers in his hand.
Nevertheless, Republicans across the country feared that Lincoln would be defeated. Acknowledging this fear, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that, if he should lose the election, he would still defeat the Confederacy before turning over the White House:
“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 cannot possibly save it afterwards."
Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope. While the Democratic platform followed the Peace wing of the party and called the war a "failure," their candidate, General George B. McClellan, supported the war and repudiated the platform.
Lincoln provided Grant with new replacements and mobilized his party to support Grant and win local support for the war effort. Sherman's capture of Atlanta in September ended defeatist jitters; the Democratic Party was deeply split, with some lead...