The Oct. 13, 1863, state election was a disaster for the Ohio Democrats who had refused to be part of the Union Party coalition and had instead supported Clement Vallandigham for governor.
President Lincoln was concerned that the off-year elections would seriously erode support for the administration in many states, but when the Union Party prevailed in Ohio, carrying war Democrat John Brough (pronounced Bruff) into the statehouse, Lincoln cabled to Brough: “Glory to God in the highest. Ohio has saved the nation!”
Democratic Banner Publisher Lecky Harper, of course, didn’t see things that way. In the Oct. 17, 1863, edition he wrote: “It is our unpleasant duty this week to make known to our readers the fact that the Democracy of Ohio were badly defeated on Tuesday. The entire Abolition state ticket has been elected by majorities certainly large enough to satisfy the most ardent friend of Negro freedom.”
He reported that the entire Democratic ticket in Knox County had been defeated by majorities of 200 to 230. He wrote that he didn’t want to speak at great length on the reasons for the defeat “at this time,” but proceeded to do so:
“Suffice it to say, that the whole power of the National and State administrations were brought to bear against the Democratic Party. Money was poured out like water, to corrupt the purity of the ballot box, and votes were bought, as cattle are bought in the market. Poor men are threatened with loss of work if they voted the Democratic ticket; and when so voting, in the face of threats, they were dismissed from their situations, and turned out of doors. The timid and weak were terrified by threats. Fraud, forgery, bribery and every species of rascality were resorted to, in order to secure the defeat of the Democratic Party.
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