Lincoln: The Image

The Most Important Presidential Election

Even more crucial to America's future than the watershed presidential election of 1860, the contest of 1864 proved that free elections could go forward during wartime.

The race pitted Lincoln against Democrat George B. McClellan, the former commanding General of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan detested Republican policy on emancipation, but was saddled by a peace plank in his party platform which called the war a failure and urged armistice.

Anti-Lincoln cartoons implied that, despite four years in the White House, Lincoln remained a clown, incapable of taking the national crisis seriously. His sense of humor, a quality that has endeared him to modern America, was a liability during this hotly contested presidential campaign.

These images examine the United States' most important presidential election.