and who were willing to make the prosecution of the
war very difficult, there were not hosts who were
ready to push difficulty to the point of impossibility.
On the other hand the fight was made very shrewdly
by the Union men of Ohio, who nominated John Brough,
a “war Democrat,” as their candidate.
Then the scales fell from the eyes of the people; they
saw that in real fact votes for Brough or for Vallandigham
were, respectively, votes for or against the Union.
The campaign became a direct trial of strength on
this point. Freedom of speech, habeas corpus,
and the kindred incidents of the Vallandigham case
were laid aside as not being the genuine and fundamental
questions. It was one of those instances in which
the common sense of the multitude suddenly takes control,
brushes away confusing details, and gets at the great
and true issue. The result was that Vallandigham
was defeated by a majority of over 100,000 votes;
and thus a perilous crisis was well passed. This
incident had put the Republican ascendency in extreme
peril, but when the administration emerged from the
trial with a success so brilliant, it was thereafter
much stronger than if the test had never been made.
The strain was one of that kind to which the war was
subjecting the whole nation, a strain which strengthens
rather than weakens the body which triumphantly encounters
it. The credit for the result was generally admitted
to be chiefly due to Mr. Lincoln’s effective
presentation of the Republican position.
* * * *
As the second year of the war drew towards its close,
the administration had to face a new and grave difficulty
in the recruitment of the army. Serious errors
which had been made in calling and enlisting troops
now began to bear fruit. Under the influence
of the first enthusiasm a large proportion of the
adult male population at the North would readily have
enlisted “for the war;” but unfortunately
that opportunity had not been seized by the government,
and it soon passed, never to return. That the
President and his advisers had been blameworthy can
hardly be said; but whether they had been blameworthy
or excusable became an immaterial issue, when they
found that the terms of enlistment were soon to expire,
and also that just when the war was at its hottest,
the patriotism of the people seemed at its coldest.
Defeats in the field and Copperheadism at home combined
in their dispiriting and deadly work. Voluntary
enlistment almost ceased. Thereupon Congress passed
an act “for enrolling and calling out the national
forces.” All able-bodied citizens between
twenty and forty-five years of age were to “perform
military duty in the service of the United States,
when called on by the President for that purpose."
This was strenuous earnest, for it portended a draft.