November 8, 1862: South celebrates Democratic congressional gains in the North

Governor Horatio Seymour
Democratic Governor Horatio Seymour of New York, elected 1862.

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reproduced an item from an unnamed Democratic northern paper about the mid-term election results. It was a bit over the top, though New York did actually go to a majority Democratic delegation. There was a net loss of 50 seats in the House for the Republicans, but they retained control by caucusing with 25 Constitutional Union members. In the Senate, Republicans actually picked up three seats. The election undoubtedly indicated some dissatisfaction with the longer than expected war, as well as with Emancipation, but the dream of an “informal meeting” of the new Congress ahead of its actual formation was not to be realized.


Extraordinary result of the Elections at the North–New York and New Jersey gone for the Democrats–General losses of the Republican party.

Elections were held on the 4th instant in the following States: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, and Delaware. The returns published in the Herald, of the 5th, show a most extraordinary change in the political condition of these States.–In New York, Horatio Seymour, Dem., is elected; fifteen Democrats and three Republicans [ electted ] to Congress. In Massachusetts, Governor Address, Republican, is re-elected, and nine Republicans and one Democrat elected to Congress. In 162 towns Andrews gets 45 332, and Sevens, Dem., 29,014. Andrews’s majority will reach 25,000. The Legislature will be strongly Republican. In New Jersey, Joel Parker, Dem., is elected Governor, and the whole Democratic delegation to Congress is elected. A dispatch says “the Democrats have swept the State.”–In Michigan the Republican State ticket is elected by a majority of about 5,000. From Missouri there is little upon which to form an estimate. In four wards in St. Louis the vote for Congressmen stood: Blair, 1,930; Kyce. Proclamation Repub, 1,954, Sogey, Dem., 232. In Illinois the returns from seventy towns give Ingersoll, Rep., for Governor 3,300 majority. In Wisconsin the State is hotly contested. The county of Milwaukie gives Brown, Dem, 4,700 majority over Potter, Rep. The friends of Brown claim his election without a doubt, but the Republicans claim that the returns from the balance of the district will elect Potter. Among the Democrats elected to Congress from New York city are Fernando Wood, his brother Benj. Wood, James Brooks, editor of the New York Express, and Brantus Coming. The New York Herald, commencing on the returns as far as received, says it may safely assure the extinguishment of the 100,000 Republican majority in New York, and the election of Horatio Seymour by a handsome majority.” It then adds:

Nor have we any doubt that the Democratic Union conservative gains for Congress in New York, New Jersey and Illinois have secured the next House of Representatives against our disorganizing, disunion, abolition radicals by a substantial working majority. The conservative vote of this city has been so overwhelming that it has carried everything along with it for Congress identified with the popular demand for a change of men and measures at Washington, without stopping to discriminate upon the special merits or demerits of individual candidates. The one great paramount idea of an emphatic and impressive popular verdict against our corrupt and reckless abolition faction, which has undertaken to rule or ruin the nation, is the secret of the astonishing results of these elections.

Such is the meaning of these astounding manifestations from our loyal States and from this imperial city, the head and front and main reliance of the Government in the prosecution of this great war for the Union. They do not mean that the war shall be ended in an ignominious and ruinous peace, involving a division of the Union into two independent confederacies, but that the war shall be prosecuted for the maintenance of the Union, and for nothing else, that the malign abolition influences which have brought defeats and disasters to our armies where we should otherwise have been crowned with victory, and that the radical Marplott, who, in Congress and in the Cabinet, have caused the squandering of hundreds of millions of money and the needless sacrifice of thousands of our brave soldiers, shall be henceforth repudiated by President Lincoln. He is thus admonished by the people of our loyal States that his own sound and patriotic war policy, which they approved in 1861, they now reaffirm against our abolition fanatics.

But how is this new Congress to reach the legislation of the General Government in season for any practical good? Under the regular course of things the present Congress, which lasts till the 4th of March next, will pass all the legislative measures for the support and direction of the Executive Government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1864. The new Congress, unless specially convened by the President, does not meet till December, 1863, and in the interval we must have this rebellion crushed; for such is the voice of these late elections. How, then, in our new House of Representatives, fresh from the people, to give its counsels to the President in their behalf? We know of no better method than an informal meeting of the members of the new Congress after the fashion of the late Altoona conference of the Governors of our loyal States. Accordingly, we suggest an informal meeting of the people a newly elected representatives, in order that they may agree upon a series of recommendations and declarations of the general policy which they believe would meet the cordial support of our loyal people. Let a meeting of this character be held in this city before the reassembling of Congress, and it may contribute much to aid the President in the recommendations of his annual message and in the important work of a reconstruction of his Cabinet.

The State of New York has given the finishing blow to our radical Abolitionists at the ballot-boxes. They must now be removed into the background. Their overthrow will revive the hopes of the Union men of the South, and, with the dispersion of the rebel army of Virginia, we may now expect a general Southern reaction in favor of the Union, which will speedily end this rebellion.

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