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Union party

Union party, in American history.

1 Coalition of Republicans and War Democrats in the election of 1864. Abraham Lincoln was renominated for President with Andrew Johnson, the Democratic war governor of Tennessee, as his running mate. The Union party was hardly more than a name; very few Democrats were attracted, and the party reverted to its Republican designation in 1868.

2 In 1936 various radical groups discontented with the New Deal formed the Union party at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Father Charles E. Coughlin, Dr. Francis E. Townsend, and Gerald L. K. Smith, who had succeeded the recently assassinated Huey Long as the leader of the Share-the-Wealth movement, were the prime movers in the new party. William Lemke, a Republican congressman from North Dakota, was put forward as presidential nominee, and Thomas C. O'Brien of Boston, a labor lawyer, was nominated for Vice President. Although some believed that the Union ticket might deprive Franklin Delano Roosevelt of many normally Democratic votes, Lemke failed to get on the ballot in many states and polled only 882,000 votes. The strange coalition that had created the Union party fell apart immediately, and the party disappeared.

See D. H. Bennett, Demagogues in the Depression (1969).

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Union Party

UNION PARTY

UNION PARTY, a fusion party conceived by Republicans in 1861 to combine people of all political affiliations into a single movement committed to the preservation of the Union and to war. Republicans wanted to project an image of wartime nonpartisanship, and they also expected to capitalize on wartime patriotism to siphon off Democratic support. Most Democrats, including a significant number willing to tone down their partisan rhetoric, refused to bolt their party altogether to join the Union coalition (the War Democrats were the notable exception). After 1862 and for the duration of the war, Republicans and occasionally War Democrats ran against regular Democrats under the Union Party banner.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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

JeremyDerfner

See alsoWar Democrats .

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