War Democrats

views updated


WAR DEMOCRATS were those who ceased normal party activity in 1861 and 1862 on the grounds that any partisan criticism of the Republican government during the Civil War amounted to disloyalty. Most regular Democrats supported the war effort but continued to oppose the Lincoln administration, arguing that the policies of individuals in office were easily separable from the cause of the Union. The War Democrats ran some candidates of their own, but they tended to cooperate with the Republicans. Though they embarrassed their party, they did not win enough votes to significantly change the political demographics of the period. Vice President Andrew Johnson was the best known of the War Democrats.


Dell, Christopher. Lincoln and the War Democrats: The Grand Erosion of Conservative Tradition. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1975.

Silbey, Joel H. A Respectable Minority: The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860–1868. New York: Norton, 1977.