Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NYC Voters Were Not Big Fans of Abraham Lincoln

So says Bill Morgan in NYT:
New York may have been the largest city in the Union during the Civil War, but most of its inhabitants were strongly opposed to the conflict – if not downright hostile to the Union’s war aims. During the secession crisis of 1861, the pro-Confederate mayor Fernando Wood even proposed seceding from the Union and establishing itself as an independent city-state, neither for nor against the North or the South.

The antiwar sentiment was mostly commercial in motive: Most people in the city felt that conducting a war against the Southern states would prove to be bad for business. Southerners owed tens of millions of dollars to New York banks, New York shipowners provided Southern cotton producers with the means to get their products to markets and poor New Yorkers believed that the abolition of slavery would flood the city with cheap black labor, putting newly arrived immigrants out of work.

These feelings only grew during the war, and came to a head during the 1864 presidential race. Indeed, few people today realize that Abraham Lincoln was not the popular choice of the people of New York City in either of his presidential runs. He not only failed to carry the city in either election, but in fact lost by landslides. It was only due to his strong Republican support from upstate New York voters that Lincoln managed to carry the state’s 33 electoral votes.

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