Presidential election of 1864. Political drawing by Thomas Nash
This election has been turbulent to say the least, erupting into contentious rhetoric, violence at rallies, and collective anxiety. But this isn’t the first time the U.S. has experienced such uproar from an election. In 1864, in the throws of the Civil War, incumbent Republican Abraham Lincoln was running for re-election against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top War general. Although both candidates wanted to bring the Civil War to an end, Lincoln wanted to also abolish slavery, while McClellan felt slavery was fundamental to economic stability and should be reinstated as a way to bring Confederate states back into the Union. Here in New York, this battle led to a plot to burn the city to the ground.