Philadelphia's Campaign Dial was by far the most extraordinary specimen of the campaign paper genre during Lincoln's two presidential races. Substantially raising the bar of quality of publications of its kind, it became the standard of excellence in its field. What other campaign paper could claim daily publication (save Sunday), eighteen full-page caricatures, more than fifty total cartoons, a special edition of the fifty-thousand-copy Pictorial Campaign Dial, an experienced publisher and staff, and a built-in base for potential subscribers? These remarkable assets arose from the Campaign Dial's emergence from the secure womb of an established financial paper, The Dial, which returned to its previous identity and former name after its political offspring fulfilled its brief mission.[1] However, like its cousins in other cities, the Campaign Dial matched the general model of campaign papers. Its exclusive purpose was to reelect President Lincoln. Its content was unabashedly partisan, it reveled in negative campaigning, and its period of publication was defined by the parameters of the campaign. It was a sophisticated version of the many campaign papers published throughout the country during the early-to-mid 1860s.

Week One, September 8–10

Making its debut in style, the maiden issue on September 8, 1864, presented a full, front-page cartoon, a rarity in the campaign pa- Page  [End Page 38] per genre. Wasting no time, D. E. Wyand, the paper's artist, credits the head-on collision of Sherman's impressive rout at Atlanta with the Democratic party convention's peace overture for an "immediate cessation of hostilities" as the proximate cause for the onset of the "Alarming Illness of Mr. Peace Democracy" (Figure 1).[2] The ironic coincidence of these two incompatible events suddenly catapulted Lincoln into the lead of the presidential sweepstakes as it plunged the Democratic party into division and political disarray. Yet, as the cartoonist would have it, the so-called administration of the "Atlanta Pill" interacted with two earlier invasive treatments: "Mobile Bitters" (Admiral David G. Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864) and "Kearsa[r]ge Gruel" (the USS Kearsarge sank the CSS Alabama, June 19, 1864). Collectively these Union remedies, claimed the artist, spelled ruin for the Confederacy, complicated the task of the Democratic party, and spurred Lincoln to inquire, "Well, nurse, how's poor Mr. Peace Democracy this morning?" The nurse replies, "Poorly, Sir, very poorly! These Mobile Bitters didn't agree with him at all, and I'm afraid this Atlanta Pill will about finish him." Lincoln then wryly retorts, "Ah, well! He'll go to another and a better party," a subtle allusion to the president's own political organization. [3]

The Campaign Dial swiftly exploited its sudden political edge over the Democratic press. When the New York World gratuitously asserted "that the Chicago Platform" placates the War Democrats, and the New York Daily News echoed "that [it] ... embodies the views of the Peace Democrats," the Campaign Dial protested: "Both these opinions cannot be correct." Could the War Democrats be satisfied when the platform was the mischievous project of "the whole nest of Copperheads"? This was just a grand scheme to hoodwink the nation. In time, these seeds planted by the Campaign Dial, would blossom into a full-blown conspiracy theory. Alleged- Page  [End Page 39]

 Figure 1. "Alarming Illness of Mr. Peace Democracy."
Figure 1. "Alarming Illness of Mr. Peace Democracy." Page  [End Page 40]
ly joining Clement Vallandigham in the plot were Charles Ingersol, "whose mouth has never been opened since the ... rebellion except in denunciation of the Government"; Fernando and Ben Wood; and Chauncey Burr, "who at Chicago was in favor of a committee to proceed to Washington for the purpose of hanging Lincoln." [4] Also kindling suspicions of Copperhead-Confederate complicity was inflammatory rhetoric from the Southern press: "The Atlanta (Rebel) Intelligencer says that if the Peace Democrats 'use the ballot-box against Lincoln, while we use the cartridge-box, each side will be a helper to the other.'" [5]

Although the early editorial position of the Campaign Dial conceded that the Democratic party might not intentionally be in cahoots with the Confederacy, it still reasoned that the peace platform, however inadvertent, played into the hands of the South: "No matter how strong may be the professions of the Democratic leaders that the party is not in favor of the South, the great point is that the South believes that it is, and the leaders of the rebellion are gathering encouragement from that belief."[6] Moreover, the editorial pursued the hypothetical implications of a Lincoln win or loss. If he won, the current considerable military momentum would be increased by the national mandate, while a loss would squander the gains.

It was a distinct advantage to go to press six days a week—adopting that course enabled the Campaign Dial to process and react to new information as it developed. Thus when General McClellan's controversial letter of acceptance to his political party's nomination became public, the paper immediately capitalized on the letter's abrupt departure from the party platform and his running mate's so-called peace-at-any-price. [7] The editorial zoomed in on McClellan's obvious disclaimer: "I could not look in the face of my gallant comrades of the army and navy, who have fought in so many bloody battles, and tell them that the labors and the sacrifices of so many of our slain and wounded brethren had been in vain—that we had abandoned that Union for which we have so Page  [End Page 41] often periled our lives." What immediately struck the writer of the editorial was that McClellan now represented the War Democrats, while George Pendleton, the vice presidential candidate, stood firmly on the foundation of the Peace Democrats. Again the specter of conspiracy rose to the surface of political debate: "Here are the two candidates, working in harness together, to each being delegated the duty of entrapping the wing of the party he represents. But when the candidates are elected, then the mask can with safety be thrown aside." [8] Nevertheless, if the Democratic party insisted on a peace agenda, the Campaign Dial comically touted its own sterling Peace Commission: "We have the best authority for stating that Mr. Lincoln has acceded to the Democratic demand for the appointment of Peace Commissioners. He has selected Generals Grant, Sherman, Meade, Hancock, Butler, Sheridan, Granger, and Admiral Farragut, "'with power to add to their number.'" [9]

As McClellan tossed his hat into the ring, a barrage of demeaning, satirical epithets was flung: "Little Mac," "Little Napoleon," "the Ball's Bluff strategist," "the Chickahominy hero," and the "Gunboat General." Who would vote for McClellan? "Every full-fledged Traitor ..., Every man who hopes that the North never may subdue the South ..., Every man who believes ... the Confederacy ought to be recognized ..., Every coward ..., Every deserter ..., Every lover ... of slavery." [10] Obviously, the American institution of politics—a war within a war—was underway.

Week Two, September 12–17

The most compelling logic against the Democratic party's peace initiative was grounded in the simple fact of the war's progress. If the military machine of the North could not be stopped, nothing else mattered—the peace versus war debate would be a moot question. Acknowledging the fundamental nature of that rationale, the Campaign Dial also repeatedly pressed the point of imminent, overwhelming victory. On September 12, Wyand's main caricature depicted "The Confederacy on His Last Leg!!" (Figure 2). Four legs on a five-legged platform, labeled "Repudiation of Debt," have either fallen ("Georgia & Kearsa[r]ge," "New Orleans," and "Mo- Page  [End Page 42] bile") or are falling ("Atlanta") to the ground. Moreover, General U. S. Grant has a powerful grip on the remaining leg ("Richmond"), which he wrenches to the obvious physical and psychological discomfort of Jefferson Davis, who dangerously sways to and fro on the remnants of the platform, about to be toppled from his tenuous perch. Symbolically wearing a wig of cotton, Davis appears as a sensational side-show anomaly of nature, equipped with three arms and hands—one coming out of his chest. The Confederate leader menacingly holds a slave in one hand, a whip in another, and shackles in the third. Thus Grant's final assault on Richmond promises to dethrone the renegade champion of slavery and disunion to achieve "A good long Peace Conference" (i.e., unconditional surrender). Furthermore, approaching Union reinforcements to General Grant's impressive dismantling of the Confederate cause are cautioned to "Stand From Under" to avoid any collateral damage.[11]

The Campaign Dial espoused a spectrum of bellicose views, claiming that war was the only bonafide instrument of an enduring peace, that War Democrats were defecting from the Chicago Platform, and that veterans and soldiers unitedly rejected any pacifist policy of appeasement. [12] Poetry, purporting to represent the determination of troops in the field to "fight it out," supported the military solution as the exclusive avenue to the acquisition of peace. "A Soldier's Rally" was printed on September [13]: "We have heard the rebels yell, / We have heard the Union shout, / We have weighed the matter very well, / And mean to fight it out; / In victory's happy glow, / In the gloom of utter rout, / We have pledged ourselves—'Come weal or woe, / By heaven! We fight it out.' / 'Tis now too late to question / What brought the war about; / 'Tis a thing of pride and passion, / And we mean to fight it out. / Let the 'big wigs' use the pen, / Let them caucus, let them spout, / We are half a million weaponed men, / And mean to fight it out."13

Nevertheless, the breaking story was the jarring repudiation of McClellan's candidacy by such prominent Peace Democrats as Clem- Page  [End Page 43]

 Figure 2. "Stand from Under!!! The Confederacy on His Last Leg!!"
Figure 2. "Stand from Under!!! The Confederacy on His Last Leg!!" Page  [End Page 44]
ent Vallandigham, Fernando Wood, and John Mullaly, editor of the Metropolitan Record. Withdrawing his political support, Mullaly explains his sudden disenchantment and compounds the public relations disaster in the process. "General McClellan says: 'I am happy to know that when the nomination was made the record of my public life was kept in view'; but he certainly cannot be ignorant of the fact that the 'record' of his 'public life' was the great obstacle to his nomination in the minds of the Peace Democracy, and that it was only upon the assurance that he was in favor of the immediate cessation of hostilities that they withdrew their objections to him as a candidate. It was their wish that his 'record' should be kept out of view, and they believed that he himself was not desirous of giving it a more extended publicity than it had already obtained; but they never supposed that he would refer to it as a matter of pride or satisfaction." [14]

Now journalists clamored to learn McClellan's real position. Is he actually in favor of an "immediate cessation of hostilities"? Why should his "record be kept out of view"? Is he just a pawn to capture the votes of the War Democracy while George Pendleton appeals to the Peace Democracy? Beyond these questions, the editorial ventures an astute political prognostication: "We venture the prediction that, before the election in November, Mr. Wood and his friends will receive such further assurance that the Hero of the Armistice is all right upon the great question, as shall lead to the withdrawal of all opposition on their part. Mark the prediction." [15]

Within the week, Fernando Wood and his friends returned to the fold. In an "I told you so" editorial, the Campaign Dial insists on a reasoned explanation for the change in posture: "Three days ago ... we ... predicted that, notwithstanding the fact that Wood and Vallandigham bolted because of McClellan's letter, they would soon receive such further assurances that, in spite of his letter, McClellan was still in favor of the immediate termination of the war, upon terms satisfactory to the Peace men who are firm friends of Jeff Davis. As these men have been consistent in their hostility to the Page  [End Page 45] government and consistent in their friendship for Jeff Davis and his crew, this sudden change must call for an explanation." [16]

The Campaign Dial counterattacked on another front. Since the Peace Democracy singled out Lincoln for criticism on "Arbitrary Arrests," "the Draft," and "Emancipation," the Campaign Dial took a leaf from the Daily Telegraph to scrutinize McClellan's alleged position on these same issues. Its partisan analysis contended that McClellan's independent military behavior sustained Lincoln on each point. That is, that McClellan, "without consultation with his superiors," advocated "the arrest of the Maryland Legislature," "strenuously besought the President to fill the armies by a draft," "and ... insisted upon the principle of seizing and using the Negroes of rebel enemies whenever and wherever they could be found." Now, claimed the editorial, he was abandoning his former stance "to serve a low party motive."[17]

By the end of the week, stinging caricature portrayed McClellan as a prestidigitator, magically severing the "Democratic War Wing" from the "Democratic Peace Wing" with the sharp cleaver of his "Letter of Acceptance" ( Figure 3). If McClellan's letter was political dynamite, to use an allied metaphor, the response of the peace wing's leadership lit the fuse and blew any semblance of cover for party division to smithereens. In the cartoon's background, the digging instruments of spades and picks and the spade image on playing cards (symbols of retreat) serve as harbingers of the paper's increasing focus on McClellan's performance as commander of the Army of the Potomac. [18]

In fact, the Campaign Dial devoted an entire column to an extensive extract from " J. J. Marks' able history of 'The Peninsular Campaign in Virginia'" under the provocative heading "McClellan's Retreat," which condemned the general's strategy at Malvern Hill. Another piece purported that at Manassas he had fallen prey to the deceptive ruse of "Quaker Guns—guns made of wood, but so painted and mounted as to appear to be real ones of a formidable character." His detractors deliberately alleged that his army "was fooled by them and kept at bay for weeks." Thus McClellan's military bravery, judgment, and leadership were all impugned or maligned early in the political campaign. In the vernacular of our time, Page  [End Page 46]

 Figure 3. "The McClellan Letter!! Prestidigitation!!! Prof.
McClellan the great Wizard of the South, dividing the Democratic
party wings with one blow of a paper letter."
Figure 3. "The McClellan Letter!! Prestidigitation!!! Prof. McClellan the great Wizard of the South, dividing the Democratic party wings with one blow of a paper letter." Page  [End Page 47]
George B. McClellan, the novice candidate, was receiving a rude entree to the bruising game of political hard ball.

Week Three, September 19–24

As the Democratic party continued to be plagued by internal division, the Campaign Dial savored its competitor's identity crisis. "The rank and file are at a loss to know whether to insist upon war or cry for Peace—whether to support the Chicago platform or endorse McClellan's letter." Even the Republicans feigned that they, too, were mystified. "The hodgepodge prepared by the Democratic party at Chicago ... makes it very difficult for all of us to understand what position our opponents occupy."[19] The caricature depicted McClellan and the Copperhead Clement Vallandigham or "Val—the angel of peace," on the "road to ruin," failing miserably to ride the divided donkey of "Democracy" in conflicting directions ( Figure 4). Significantly, it is Vallandigham, the ardent peace proponent, not McClellan, the ambivalent warrior, who rides the steed backwards. To further emphasize the war-peace division, bellicose bayonets protrude from McClellan's military uniform, and angelic wings are appendages to Vallandigham's attire. Each befuddled leader points to national goals that the other declines to accept. The essence of the crisis is embodied in the caption, "Deplorable Condition of the Sham-ocratic Nondescript."[20]

As the shrill cry from the Democratic press escalated concerning Lincoln's policy on civil liberties, the Campaign Dial moaned about the personal vituperation a local Copperhead newspaper, the Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, aimed at Lincoln the previous Sunday, to wit: "The elongated baboon at Washington ... Are we to submit to the edict of the tyrant at Washington? ... The lank, lean, filthy-mouthed, slab-sided, six foot thing that disgraces the seat once honored by Washington." [21] Given the demeaning rhetoric, the Campaign Dial retorted that the enemies of Lincoln had been cut sufficient slack to malign the president without political restraint.

Yet if the Democrats sought political leverage on the theme of Page  [End Page 48]

 Figure 4. "Deplorable Condition of the Sham-ocratic Nondescript."
Figure 4. "Deplorable Condition of the Sham-ocratic Nondescript." Page  [End Page 49]
civil liberties, the Republicans countered with the motif of treason. Would not a cessation of hostilities aid and abet the rebels? A form of syllogistic logic gave rise to a slightly different nuance to the treason thesis: "If an armistice should be declared, there would be no reason why the powers of Europe might not demand the opening of these Southern ports. The opening of these ports would immediately take the cotton of the South to European markets, place the Confederate loan at a high premium and enable the Confederacy to get all the money it needed. With this money it could build privateers so as to sweep our commerce literally from the seas. It could supply itself with arms ... of war with provisions ..., so as to leave no possible hope of ever crushing the rebellion." [22]

If the "coulds" and "mights" in this hypothetical argument compromised the premises and weakened the conclusion, this distinction would not have mattered to zealous partisans. Bayard Taylor's "On the Chicago Surrender" poetically articulated a similar point in patriotic cadence:

What! Hoist the white flag when our triumph is nigh?
What? Crouch before Treason? Make Freedom a lie?
What! Spike all our guns when the foe is at bay
And the rags of his black banner dropping away?
Tear down the strong name that our nation has won,
And strike her brave bird from his home in the sun?
By the God of our Fathers! This shame we must share,
But it grows too debasing for freemen to bear,
And Washington, Jackson, will turn in their graves,
When the Union shall rest on two races of slaves,
Or spurning the spirit which bound it of yore,
And sundered, exist as a nation no more! [23]

Albeit early in the political campaign, confidence oozed from the Republican press. "The leading article of the Independent of last week, closes thus: "The prospect of victory is brilliant. If a fortnight ago Mr. Lincoln's re-election seemed doubtful, the case is now changed. The outrageous character of the Chicago platform, and the sunshiny effect of our late victories by land and sea, have rekindled the old enthusiasm in loyal breasts. We summon all our friends to hard work." [24] Page  [End Page 50]

The Campaign Dial exuded its own euphoric political prediction. "So sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West," boasted its editorial, "we shall carry the ticket by such a majority as will crush at once the rebels in arms and the enemies at home."[25] As if that were not enough, Wyand transformed the exuberant election prognosis into political caricature. In "The Race to the White House" ( Figure 5), a confident, towering Lincoln lines up at the "starting post" against a diffident, absolutely dwarfed, McClellan: "Little Mac (despondently)—I tell you I'm afraid to run this race. When I consider his length and his strength, I feel sick—and besides, he's been over this ground before. Democratic Friend—Well, run it anyhow. I know you're rather small for him—but then you are the biggest we could get!!" [26]

Week Four, September 26–October 1

When the Copperhead press seemed reluctant to trumpet Sheridan's military success in the Shenandoah campaign, the Campaign Dial chided its journalistic enemies, borrowing an editorial from Horace Greeley's New York Tribune: "Amid the general joy of loyal men over Sheridan's victory, whose faces were downcast yesterday? Who felt that the great triumph in the Shenandoah rang the knell of their selfish hopes? What two great parties in America joined in lamenting this great victory for the Union? The party which Jeff Davis leads in Richmond, and which George B. McClellan leads at the North." [27]

This same Copperhead critique carried over into the realm of political caricature in a superscript on the front-cover drawing, which delineated the "Intense Disgust of the Northern Copperheads" ( Figure 6 ). True patriots, suggests the cartoon, ought to celebrate, not equivocate or denigrate, Sheridan's military triumph. In addition, the caption underneath the print contrasts the bold, "Dreadful want of politeness in General Sheridan" to the former timid "politeness of the Little Napoleon." Whereas General Sheridan "persists in treading on Gen. Early's heels, when that gentleman has his hands full," the cartoonist implies that General McClellan's military record is devoid of any comparable distinction. [28] Page  [End Page 51]

 Figure 5. "The Race to the White House."
Figure 5. "The Race to the White House." Page  [End Page 52]

Figure 6. "Dreadful want of politeness in General
Sheridan. He persists in treading on Gen. Early's heels, when that
gentleman has his hands full. What a contrast to the politeness of
the Little Napolean."
Figure 6. "Dreadful want of politeness in General Sheridan. He persists in treading on Gen. Early's heels, when that gentleman has his hands full. What a contrast to the politeness of the Little Napolean." Page  [End Page 53]

If General Sheridan's prowess seized publicity for the military in the Campaign Dial's weekly review of the news, General Frémont's withdrawal as an independent presidential candidate capped the political headlines. In "Fremont gets off the track" (Figure 7)—literally the "presidential track," symbolically in an old-fashioned horse and buggy—Wyand portrays "Lincoln's Union Line" steam engine easily gaining a huge lead over the diminutive "Democratic" engine, barely puffing along, as a disappointed Frémont relinquishes his presidential aspiration. Reluctantly, J. C. Frémont muses: "'I think I'd better take my Apple Cart off the track,—it's too slow a coach to compete with that of Lincoln's—confound him—and besides, it might upset him.' Whereupon the Great Pathfinder seeks another and a more suitable path—for him." [29] Indeed, Lincoln's political advisors had worried about the potential effect that Frémont's entry in the political maelstrom might have on diverting votes from the president's campaign; now Lincoln's status as the front-runner firmly congealed.

So enthusiastic over recent political and military developments is the October 1 front-cover cartoon that it wistfully predicts a Lincoln landslide by an 800,000 vote margin and pictures McClellan abandoning politics for an operatic role ( Figure 8 ). [30] That he is costumed in feminine attire and cast in the female lead questions his manly bearing. To underscore his tragic fate, the cartoonist shows him using a gigantic handkerchief to dry his tears. The top caption explains the transposition from politics to prima donna: "Little Mac after the Election, takes to the Opera as a means of subsistence. His first appearance in the character of Norma." The subscript portrays despair as "Little Mac sings 'Where now are the hopes I cherished? Gone forever, gone forever.' Here the singer subsides into such a flood of tears that they are obliged to carry him off!" [31] Page  [End Page 54]

 Figure 7. "Fremont gets off the Track."
Figure 7. "Fremont gets off the Track." Page  [End Page 55]

Figure 8. "Little Mac after the Election, takes to
the Opera as a means of subsistence. His first appearance in the
character of Norma."
Figure 8. "Little Mac after the Election, takes to the Opera as a means of subsistence. His first appearance in the character of Norma." Page  [End Page 56]

Week Five, October 3–8

As Republican optimism soared, election forecasts proliferated. In an October 4 front cover, the artist's grim assessment of General McClellan's chances for reaching the White House is no better than a frustrated political aspirant climbing a greased pole with a ton of weights attached to his coattails (Figure 9). The unrelenting load preventing McClellan from getting off the ground is attributed to "Pendleton" (1,000 lb.), McClellan's "Letter of Acceptance" (500 lb.), and the "Chicago Resolution" (500 lb.). In the caption, a disgruntled "Little Mac" whines: "Well, I didn't expect this kind of work. And I'm afraid they'll be putting new weights to my coat-tails all the time."[32]

Whereas Pendleton's candidacy, McClellan's letter of acceptance, and the Chicago platform all constituted genuine liabilities to be overcome, no weight had more gravitational pull than the military juggernaut. Using that tool, Wyand cleverly combines two-dimensional invidious associations from the military and political domains. Sensing the significance of that factor, Wyand anticipates Dr. Ulysses S. Grant extracting "the last tooth," "Richmond," from his patient, "Secesh," ( Figure 10) to be added to the growing pile of extractions, including "New Orleans," "Vicksburg," "Mobile," and "Atlanta." Once Richmond is extracted, McClellan's political fate is doomed.

However, even if dentist Grant's "Richmond" operation continues for months, the cartoon message still manages to thwart McClellan. The artist covers that contingency with the aid of guilt by association. In this case, Wyand subverts his political opponent by linking the Democratic Party as a treasonous cohort to the secessionist movement. Wyand accomplishes this by picturing "Mrs. Democracy" as the mother of "Secesh," who wipes tears from her eyes and inconsolably howls over her offspring's painful ordeal. The caption ties these two nefarious strands together: "Dentist Grant—'Now just keep quiet Mrs. Democracy, till I get this troublesome tooth out, and then you and your son Secesh will both feel all the better for it.'" Therefore, whether Richmond falls to the Union forces, or the Democrats are exposed as sympathizing with the enemy, McClellan's political cause loses credibility. [33] Page  [End Page 57]

 Figure 9. "The Greased Pole."
Figure 9. "The Greased Pole." Page  [End Page 58]

 Figure 10. "Dr. Grant at the Last Tooth."
Figure 10. "Dr. Grant at the Last Tooth." Page  [End Page 59]

Week Six, October 10–15

Since three pivotal states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana—held their elections one month before other states on October 11, 1864, the Campaign Dial referred to this bellwether date as "The Day!" For political pundits, it was a day invested with nervous anticipation and high hopes. Supremely confident, the Campaign Dial editorial could hardly conceal its giddy mood. "While the soldier in the trenches before the walls of Richmond drops a Rebel with a bullet, we at home, with a ballot, drop a traitor in the rear."[34]

On October 12, the editorial headline fairly basked in "Victory!" For Lincoln, the news could not have been better. "The returns from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana establish the fact that the Union Party has gained a great and glorious victory." The cartoonist's front-cover caricature rubbed it in with "A portrait showing the rage, agony, grief, disappointment and despair of ye Copperheads, from a sketch taken at the Democratic Headquarters" (Figure 11). The startled expression of the stereotypic Copperhead includes electrified head hair, erect facial hair, furrowed brow, raised eyebrows, dilated pupils, magnified circumference of the eyes, distended nostrils, and grinding teeth. Save for the triumphant, it was not a pretty portrait.[35]

For the Campaign Dial, the timing of the establishment of this political beachhead was ideal. On October 13, 1864, Sidney Cohen, the publisher, released the first edition of The Great Pictorial Campaign Dial. An advertisement heralded the 50,000 copy publication as "a newspaper of twenty-eight columns established with original illustrations of present political topics." "The Best Campaign Document that can be distributed," enthused the ad. "As first impressions of cuts are the best, and as orders will be filled according to their receipt, Leagues, Clubs, Ward Associations and New Agents" were urged to "send their orders in immediately." Wholesale orders could be purchased for "$10 per 100 copies."[36]

The woodcuts from the Campaign Dial were in great demand. Assuming that the cuts had been paid for by "patronage from the State and City Executive Committees," other media requested the Page  [End Page 60]

 Figure 11. "A Portrait, showing the Rage, Agony, Grief,
Disappointment and Despair of ye Copperheads, from a sketch taken
at the Democratic Headquarters."
Figure 11. "A Portrait, showing the Rage, Agony, Grief, Disappointment and Despair of ye Copperheads, from a sketch taken at the Democratic Headquarters." Page  [End Page 61]
financially unencumbered loan of these "pictorial embellishments." However, the publisher disavowed the receipt of any political patronage, noting "we have never received, during the campaign, one dollar," and that the Campaign Dial was produced and distributed "at a heavy loss." Other media could procure specific cuts, but they were obliged to defray the costs. Created as a public service, an editorial wished "it distinctly understood that no assistance is derived from the State or City Committee. With the exception of a few subscriptions and the regular pay for advertisements for the 'Union League,'" continued the editorial, "the Campaign Dial is independent of all outside aid." [37]

To be sure, significant battles had been won in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, but there was no evidence of a complacent political posture in the Campaign Dial. A motivational plea admonished the faithful to shirk no duty and continue to wage political war to the end: "We must not relax our efforts. A great work remains to be done in November. The election just passed was but an advance of the picket line. It was a successful movement ... The victory will not only be sure, but it will be overwhelming, if we do our duty during the coming four weeks. Let us emulate the zeal of Grant, who is determined not only to capture Richmond, but to destroy the enemy." [38]

Answering the call to vigilance, Wyand fashioned another caricature as ammunition against its foe. In the print, Uncle Sam weighs "Little Mac's Words" against "Little Mac's Actions" in the scales of justice, but McClellan's performance fails to achieve equilibrium with his pretensions ( Figure 12). Consequently, Uncle Sam turns the diminutive candidate away: "Uncle Sam: 'I'm afraid I can't give ye anything, Little Mac. Ye never bring me anything but Words, and the other politicians give me more of them than I want, for nothing.'" On the shelf of "Uncle Sam's Shop" sits a container labeled "Victories." The obvious implication is that these victories, at no cost to Uncle Sam, were delivered by Abraham Lincoln. [39]

Week Seven, October 17–22

Opening the new week, Wyand's initial caricature displays a weak-kneed "Mr. Peace Democracy" timidly holding an out- Page  [End Page 62]

 Figure 12. "Uncle Sam: I'm afraid I can't give ye anything, Little
Mac. Ye never bring me anything but Words, and the other
politicians give me more of them than I want, for nothing."
Figure 12. "Uncle Sam: I'm afraid I can't give ye anything, Little Mac. Ye never bring me anything but Words, and the other politicians give me more of them than I want, for nothing." Page  [End Page 63]
stretched umbrella, "Armistice," a hopelessly inadequate deterrent, to the charging, snorting, "mad bull" of "Rebellion" ( Figure 13 ). "Poor Old Mr. Peace Democracy's plan for stopping that mad bull, Rebellion" is, of course, precisely the image any artist hopes to convey—a big joke. [40] Naturally, the Democratic party neither planned nor anticipated the unexpected dilemma that arose from the volatile mixture of their peace platform, the presidential candidate's novel letter of acceptance, and Sherman's victory at Atlanta. Few presidential campaigns in American history have been caught in a quagmire so rapidly—with a platform so out of touch with emergent conditions, a presidential candidate so ill-suited to his party's philosophy and running mate, and the odds of political disaster so overwhelming.

Among the Democratic party's most difficult challenges was attracting the soldier's vote. When the early military ballots were tallied from Pennsylvania and Ohio, seventy-five percent of the soldiers favored Lincoln. Shrewdly, the Campaign Dial tacitly imbued the soldier's vote with patriotism. "The election on Tuesday last, both in Pennsylvania and Ohio, where our soldiers have the right to vote, has established, beyond the power of contradiction," averred the editorial, "that our brave boys understand the issue involved in the present contest. It also proves," concluded the writer, "that they vote the same way they fight—against rebellion." [41] Combining the popular vote in Ohio and Indiana with early returns from soldiers, Wyand used the graphic arts to depict a downcast McClellan as "The Modern Belshazzar [beholding] the terrible 'writing on the wall'" (Figure 14). [42] With the day of political reckoning drawing nigh, diverse political markers increasingly projected Lincoln's reelection.

Occasionally when its own political party was under fire, the Campaign Dial temporarily forsook its typical offensive modus operandi for a more defensive stance. Apropos is the defense of its sister institution, the Union League, from a Democratic party critique. At first, the Campaign Dial simply praised the Union League as an effective organization that "had adopted the right course to bring out the full Union vote." Its editorial also commended the Page  [End Page 64]

 Figure 13. "Poor Old Mr. Peace Democracy's plan for stopping that
mad bull, Rebellion."
Figure 13. "Poor Old Mr. Peace Democracy's plan for stopping that mad bull, Rebellion." Page  [End Page 65]

 Figure 14. "The Modern Belshazzar beholds the terrible 'writing on
the wall.'"
Figure 14. "The Modern Belshazzar beholds the terrible 'writing on the wall.'" Page  [End Page 66]
league for "free and open discussion of the issues involved in the present political campaign." Yet this apologetic posture did not last; soon the Campaign Dial resumed its familiar aggressive style: "The very fact that the Union League has been the recipient of the most vile abuse from the Democrats proves how damaging are the blows it deals its opponents. Let the Copperheads rail on to their hearts' content ... Our artist has to-day well illustrated the strength of the Union League, and the utter folly of the Southern and Northern Democrats in their efforts to break its organization." [43]

The artist displays the Union League as an impregnable bastion of defense for "American Liberty," protecting Columbia, who holds the charter of "Liberty and Union" ( Figure 15). Individual units of the Union League link their strengths together to forge a protective barrier against the enemies of freedom. Wyand depicts "McClellan & Northern Traitors" and "Jeff Davis & Southern Traitors" as dual nemeses to the integrity of the nation. A couplet from Macauley's Henry of Navarre sets the heroic theme: "Oh how our hearts were beating, when at the break of day, / We saw the army of THE LEAGUE drawn up in bright array."[44]

Week Eight, October 24–29

If the Campaign Dial tended to wallow in the mud of negative campaigning, pointing to its opponent's vices more than its proponent's virtues, there are, indeed, exceptions to the pejorative pattern. In a letter, John Bright, the English legislator, lauded Lincoln. Bright numbered himself among those British subjects "who deplored the calamities which the leaders of secession have brought upon your country, who believe that slavery weakens your power and tarnishes your good name throughout the world, and who regard the restoration of your Union as a thing to be desired and prayed for by all good men." He also hoped, "with an intense anxiety, that Mr. Lincoln may be placed at the head of your Executive for another term." John Bright liked Lincoln's "grand simplicity of purpose, and a patriotism which knows no change, and which does not falter." He was aware, too, that some Americans found fault with their president. But he surmised that "it would be strange indeed, if, in the midst of difficulties so stupendous and so unexpected, any administration or any ruler should wholly avoid mistakes." Page  [End Page 67]

 Figure 15. "The Union League: a league that is more than three
miles long."
Figure 15. "The Union League: a league that is more than three miles long." Page  [End Page 68]
He concluded his endorsement from abroad with this perspective: "To us, looking on from this distance, and unmoved by the passions from which many of your people can hardly be expected to be free, regarding his Presidential path ... we see in it an honest endeavor faithfully to do the work of his great office, and, in the doing of it, a brightness of personal honor on which no adversary has yet been able to fix a stain." [45]

To the tune of Yankee Doodle, Lincoln's attributes were also applauded. "The Rebs have trampled down our fields, / Destroyed our walls and ditches / But Abe can build the fence again, / And Andy mend the breaches. / (Chorus) / Lincoln is the man we need; / Johnson, too, is handy; / Yankee Doodle, boys hurrah, / For Union Abe and Andy! / The Copperheads begin to squirm, / The Rebs are looking surly, / Since Sheridan has made them run, / By fighting late and Early. / And of our gallant Sherman now / We feel a little prouder, / Because he's made a lively-Hood, / By stirring Rebs with powder. / We'll have a man for President / Whose courage never fails him, / That common sense, that built the fence, / Is just the thing that ails him!" [46]

Still, negative imagery dominated the Philadelphia campaign paper. In "Mac's Last Change of Base," the artist shows an irresolute McClellan vacillating between six choices, while he attempts to displace Pendleton from a rapidly deteriorating platform (Figure 16). "Oh Mac, don't kick me off," pleads a depressed Pendleton, "I can get peace votes." When Pendleton falls through a plank in the platform, he cleaves desperately to one of McClellan's boots. "Let go Pen," cries McClellan, "or we'll both sink." Then he plaintively interjects: "Oh! for a gun boat!!!" [47]

A second piece, "The New York Democratic Soldier's Vote Manufacturing Company," raises the specter of voter fraud ( Figure 17 ). This accusation by both Democrats and Republicans was commonplace. [48] The Campaign Dial's version shows masked thugs as Dem- Page  [End Page 69]

 Figure 16. "Mac's Last Change of Base."
Figure 16. "Mac's Last Change of Base." Page  [End Page 70]
ocrats, secretly purloining votes, while a shady character places an armful of tainted "soldier's votes" in a box labeled "A Free Ballot or A Free Fight." [49]

Figure 17. "A New and Profitable Branch of Honest
Industry. The New York Democratic Soldier's Vote Manufacturing
Figure 17. "A New and Profitable Branch of Honest Industry. The New York Democratic Soldier's Vote Manufacturing Company." Page  [End Page 71]

Final Week, October 31–November 5

To be sure, objective argument and dispassionate discourse had not been strong points of the Campaign Dial. Still down the homestretch, two articles seriously debated basic issues. The first tackled the question: "'Is the war a failure?' But is it true that the war is a failure? ... Nearly one-half the territory of which the Rebels had undisputed possession in the beginning of 1862 has been wrested from them. At that date they held the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf; now it is all in our possession ... They have lost hundreds of thousands of miles of territory—we not an acre ... They are everywhere struggling, but struggling in vain, to defend themselves against our victorious and advancing hosts; while at no point are we standing on the defensive. And yet those fellows who met at Chicago ... voted that the war on our side has been a failure!"[50]

The second essay, a substantial extract from Edward Everett's October 19 speech at Faneuil Hall, challenged the Democratic party's position on constitutional, pragmatic, and philosophical grounds. Let's pursue his rationale on the Constitutional issue: "Much is said about restoring The Constitution as it is and the Union as it was ... Have those who favor such a policy well considered what the Union was and the Constitution is in this respect? ... I do not refer to extreme opinions uttered by ardent men North and South, but to legislative acts and official measures. While the government of the United States is not chargeable with the smallest violation of the Constitution or the slightest departure from the spirit of the Union ... both have been wholly disregarded and set at naught by the slaveholding interest."[51] Page  [End Page 72]

Then Everett reviewed propositions that he thought would "defy refutation." First, that the framers of the Constitution deliberately excluded the word "slavery" from that document so as not to encourage its perpetuity. Second, that "the Constitution made provision for [the] final prohibition" for the African slave trade "which actually took place." And third, "contemporaneously with the formation of the Constitution, slavery was by the ordinance of 1787 prohibited in all the territory then belonging to the United States." In summation, he reasoned that the attitude toward slavery in the South and among significant elements in the Democratic party, toying as they were with a potential slavery compromise and the modification of the Union as it had been historically known, was contrary to the original spirit and intent of the Constitution.

Everett's pragmatic argument hinged on the wisdom and "consequences of a change of administration" at a critical juncture in national history. Any disruption of momentum and administrative continuity would create a "general paralysis," "encourage the enemy," disrupt and put in abeyance the recruitment of troops, convey a message of national indecision, disband effective colored units, stifle shipbuilding, squander economic resources, and impair military and public morale. "Under these circumstances I own that it seems ... little short of fatuity to endeavor to throw the administrative powers of the Government into abeyance."

Finally, Everett was also at odds with the philosophical contention of the peace Democrats that the emancipation of slaves, "to which it is said the people of the South will never agree," negates any hope for a stable, durable peace. To this assertion, Everett found "no foundation in fact." As support, he cited Jefferson Davis's recent utterance: "We are not fighting for slavery. It never was an essential element in the controversy."[52] Given the usual content in the Campaign Dial, Everett's constitutional, pragmatic, and philosophical views were refreshing.

Confident of impending victory, the Campaign Dial's last issue appeared on Saturday, November 5, three days before the Tuesday election. Its final shot across the bow of the Democratic party enunciated the core of its own philosophical position: "Here the party of the Administration stands: The war must be fought through on this line—no withdrawal of the emancipation policy—no armistice—no negotiation with the Rebel leaders—no peace till the Rebels are sub- Page  [End Page 73] jugated and the authority of the Government is everywhere re-established. Stand up to this without flinching; do up the final work of the canvass faithfully; close up the ranks and move on in solid column, and we shall come out of the great battle of the 8th of November with an overwhelming triumph." [53]

Not content to end with the election, the Campaign Dial's final print predicts Jefferson Davis's unconditional surrender. Portraying "Jeff Davis as Richard III [in] Positively his Last Appearance," Wyand depicts Generals Grant, Sherman, Hancock, Meade, and Sheridan and Admiral Faragut closing in for the kill (Figure 18). An overwhelmed King Richard, carrying his bag of "plunder," concedes: "I think there be six Richmonds in the field. A horse! A horse! my kingdom for a horse!!! (exit)—Richard III, Act 5, Scene 4." [54]

Figure 18. "Jeff. Davis as Richard
III—Positively his Last Appearance."
Figure 18. "Jeff. Davis as Richard III—Positively his Last Appearance." Page  [End Page 74]

In its valedictory editorial, the campaign paper announced what advertisements had proclaimed for the last few weeks. Whereas before the emergence of the campaign paper its predecessor was published just six days in the week, the Dial would now add the Sunday Herald to its regimen. The last paragraph spelled out its future intention: "The first issue of the 'Sunday Herald,' a loyal, but independent weekly newspaper, published by us, will be mailed to our patrons to-morrow, in lieu of Monday's 'Campaign Dial.' Our yearly subscribers will hereafter receive 'The Dial' in its former character as a financial paper."[55]

Thus the Campaign Dial receded quietly and gracefully into the annals of history. So obscure now is its fleeting existence, demise, and burial, that its significance as an important political document has languished since the Civil War. No other campaign paper from either of Lincoln's presidential elections created anywhere near the volume of rhetoric or political caricature; nor could any of its campaign paper peers match its value in tracing, in detail, the partisan developmental strategy of committed Republican politics, and the thematic configurations of the 1864 campaign. Truly in its genre it is distinctive, and surely worthy of remembrance. Page  [End Page 75]


  1. The Campaign Dial's maternal forerunner, The Dial, commenced publication on June 19, 1862, in Philadelphia as "a daily afternoon newspaper, devoted to Finance, Stock Sales of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston; Foreign and Domestic Markets; Domestic and Foreign Exchanges, Specie quotations; City and Land Warrants ... with a daily description of the new counterfeit bank notes." The Dial, June 19, 1862, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 1. return to text
  2. Although the artist is identified only by the initials D. E. W., Philadelphia's City Directory for 1864 lists an artist, D. Wyand, residing at 1165 S. 10th Street. The only other artists listed under W are Edgar Wyand and G. W. Wyand, who reside at the same address. An E. Wyand, presumably D. E. W.'s father, Edgar, contributed to Budget of Fun. See "The Monitor Set in Danger; or, All's Well That Ends Welles," Frank Leslie's Budget of Fun, July 1863. return to text
  3. Campaign Dial, Sept. 8, 1864, vol. 9, no. 41, p. 1. Although the Campaign Dial only existed from September 8, 1864, to November 5, 1864, it retained the numbering system (volume and number) of its predecessor, The Dial, a Philadelphia financial paper. A complete file of the Campaign Dial is located at Princeton University. Some cartoons from the Campaign Dial are also in the Special Collections at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. return to text
  4. "The Chicago Platform," Campaign Dial, Sept. 8, 1864, vol. 9, no. 41, p. 1. return to text
  5. "A Frank Admission," ibid., Sept. 9, 1864, vol. 9, no. 42, p. 2. return to text
  6. "The Democrats and Peace," ibid., p. 5. return to text
  7. At this point, McClellan had not yet fleshed out his specific views on the Chicago Platform, but the Campaign Dial sought clarification in its next issue: "Since his letter we are as wise as we were before. Why does he not tell us whether he believes we have had 'four years of failure?'" "McClellan's Silence," ibid., Sept. 10, 1864, vol. 9, no. 43, p. 4. return to text
  8. "McClellan's Acceptance," ibid., Sept. 9, 1864, vol. 9, no. 42, p. 5. return to text
  9. "Peace Commissioners," ibid., p. 4. return to text
  10. "Who Will Vote for McClellan?" reprinted from Pittsburgh Gazette, ibid., Sept. 9, 1864, vol. 9, no. 42, p. 5. return to text
  11. "Stand From Under," ibid., Sept. 12, 1864, vol. 9, no. 44, p. 1. return to text
  12. See "Peace," reprinted from the Lancaster Inquiry, ibid., Sept. 13, 1864, vol. 9, no. 45, p. 1; "Where Will the War Democrats Go," ibid., Sept. 14, 1864, vol. 9, no. 46, p. 5; "The Voice of a Brave Veteran," ibid., Sept. 13, 1864, vol. 9, no. 45, p 5. return to text
  13. "A Soldier's Rally," ibid., Sept. 13, 1864, vol. 9, no. 45, p 1. The soldiers' vote in the election affirmed the solid majority support for Lincoln: 116,887 to 33,748. Mark E. Neely Jr., The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), 100. return to text
  14. "Wanted—Information," Campaign Dial, Sept. 12, 1864, vol. 9, no. 44, p. 4. return to text
  15. Ibid. Ben Wood, editor of the New York Daily News, also bolted from McClellan's candidacy, and lamented that George H. Pendleton had not been selected as the presidential candidate. The Campaign Dial attacked Pendleton for what it alleged were extreme pacifist views. "The Peace Candidate," ibid., Sept. 13, 1864, vol. 9, no. 45, p. 4. return to text
  16. "Wood and Vallandigham," ibid., Sept. 16, 1864, vol. 9, no. 48, p. 1. return to text
  17. "The Three Cardinal Points of the Chicago Platform," reprinted from the Daily Telegraph, ibid., Sept. 13, 1864, vol. 9, no. 45, p. 5. return to text
  18. "The McClellan Letter!! Prestidigitation!!!" ibid., Sept. 17, 1864, vol. 9, no. 49, p. 1. return to text
  19. "War and Peace," ibid., Sept. 19, 1864, vol. 9, no. 50, p. 1. return to text
  20. "Deplorable Condition of the Sham-ocratic Nondescript," ibid., Sept. 22, 1864, vol. 9, no. 53, p. 1. return to text
  21. "Our readers may be disposed to doubt that the Democratic press is so far under the control of Mr. Lincoln as to be afraid to express their sentiments, but we assure them that every word of the above appeared in the Mercury of Sunday, September 18, 1864." "Freedom of the Press," ibid., Sept. 19, 1864, vol. 9, no. 50, p. 5. return to text
  22. "An Armistice or the Treason in the Chicago Platform," reprinted from the National Republican, ibid. return to text
  23. "On the Chicago Surrender," ibid., Sept. 20, 1864, vol. 9, no. 51, p. 1. return to text
  24. "A Call to Work," ibid., Sept. 19, 1864, vol. 9, no. 50, p. 5. return to text
  25. "The Signs of the Times," ibid., p. 4. return to text
  26. "The Race to the White House," ibid., Sept. 24, 1864, vol. 9, no. 55, p. 1. return to text
  27. "Just the Same," ibid., reprinted from the New York Tribune, Sept. 26, 1864, vol. 9, no. 56, p. 1. return to text
  28. "Intense Disgust of the Northern Copperheads," ibid., Sept. 29, 1864, vol. 9, no. 59, p. 1. return to text
  29. "Fremont gets off the Track," ibid., Sept. 27, 1864, vol. 9, no. 57, p. 1. return to text
  30. In terms of the eventual vote count this was, indeed, wishful thinking. Lincoln's popular vote majority was just over 400,000. However, the electoral margin was a substantial 212 to 21. return to text
  31. "Little Mac after the Election," ibid., Oct. 1, 1864, vol. 9, no. 61, p. 1. The tragic opera Norma was composed by Vincenzo Bellini, libretto by Felice Romani, and based on Alexandre Soumet's tragedy of the same title. The opera was first performed in the United States in 1841 in Philadelphia. The Simon Schuster Book of Opera, ed. Arnoldo Mondadori (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1978 English Translation) 167–68. return to text
  32. "The Greased Pole," Campaign Dial, Oct. 4, 1864, vol. 9, no. 63, p. 1. return to text
  33. "Dr. Grant at the Last Tooth," ibid., Oct. 6, 1864, vol. 9, no. 65, p. 1. return to text
  34. "The Day!" ibid., Oct. 11, 1864, vol. 9, no. 69, p. 4. return to text
  35. "A Portrait," ibid., Oct. 12, 1864, vol. 9, no. 70, p. 1. The editorial, "Victory," appeared on page 4. return to text
  36. This advertisement appeared in the Campaign Dial, Oct. 10, 1864, vol. 9, no. 68, p. 5. return to text
  37. "To Our Exchanges," ibid., Oct. 14, 1864, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 4. return to text
  38. "Victory," ibid., Oct. 12, 1864, vol. 9, no. 70, p. 4. return to text
  39. "Little Mac's Words, Little Mac's Actions," ibid., Oct. 14, 1864, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 1. return to text
  40. "Poor Old Mr. Peace Democracy's Plan for Stopping that Mad Bull Rebellion," ibid., Oct. 17, 1864, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 1. return to text
  41. "The Soldier's Vote," ibid. return to text
  42. "The Modern Belshazzar beholds the terrible 'writing on the Wall,'" ibid., Oct. 22, 1864, vol. 10, no. 8, p. 1. return to text
  43. "The Union League," ibid., Oct. 19, 1864, vol. 10, no. 5, p. 4. return to text
  44. "The Union League; a league that is more than three miles long," ibid., p. 1. return to text
  45. "John Bright on the Presidential Elections," ibid., Oct. 24,1864, vol. 10, no. 9, p. 1. return to text
  46. Only four of the eight verses are cited. "Union Soldier's Song," ibid. return to text
  47. "Mac's Last Change of Base," ibid., Oct. 26, 1864, vol. 10, no. 11, p. 1. This same image also graced the front cover of the subsequent issue. A brief note explained: "We are compelled to reprint the cut of yesterday in to-day's paper, the demand not being supplied." Ibid., Oct. 27, 1864, vol. 10, no. 12, p. 4. return to text
  48. For allegations of voter fraud in the Democratic party, see Thomas Nast's "How the Copperheads Obtain Their Votes," Harper's Weekly, Nov. 12, 1864, p. 725. For a comparable accusation of voter fraud in the Republican Party see, a separately published lithograph by Joseph E. Baker, "How Free Ballot is Protected," in Bernard F. Reilly Jr., American Political Prints, 1766–1876: A Catalog of the Collections in the Library of Congress (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991), 539–40. return to text
  49. "The New York Democratic Soldier's Vote Manufacturing Company," Campaign Dial, Oct. 19, 1864, vol. 10, no. 14, p. 1. return to text
  50. "Is the War a Failure?" ibid., Oct. 31, 1864, vol. 10, no. 15, p. 1. This article also contained partisan elements. return to text
  51. Passionate Democrats would contest this argument on the grounds of "arbitrary arrests" and the breach of civil liberties. "Excerpts from Hon. Edward Everett's Great Speech, in Faneuil Hall, October 19th," ibid., Nov. 1, 1864, vol. 10, no. 16, p. 1. return to text
  52. "Extracts from Hon. Edward Everett's Great Speech," ibid., Nov. 1, 1864, vol. 10, no. 16, p. 1. return to text
  53. "Close Up and Forward!" ibid., Nov. 5, 1864, vol. 10, no. 20, p. 1. return to text
  54. "Jeff Davis As Richard III—Positively his Last Appearance," ibid., p. 5. return to text
  55. "Valedictory," ibid., p. 4. return to text