Civil War Wiki

War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads and Peace Democrats who controlled the party. The War Democrats demanded a more aggressive policy toward the Confederacy and supported President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. In the 1864 presidential election, War Democrats and the Republican Party shed its name and formed the Union Party; it nominated Lincoln president and nominated Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat, for vice president. As a result many War Democrats could vote for Lincoln, while avoiding the "Republican" ticket.

To court War Democrats, Lincoln appointed many to high civil and military offices. Some joined the Republican Party, while others remained Democrats.

Prominent War Democrats included:

  • Andrew Johnson, the U.S. senator, then military governor of Tennessee who was elected Vice President in 1864 on a ticket with Lincoln, and became President after Lincoln's assassination
  • John Brough, Governor of Ohio
  • Benjamin F. Butler, Congressman from Massachusetts; Union general
  • John Adams Dix, of New York, Buchanan's Secretary of the Treasury, Union general
  • Stephen A. Douglas, Senator from Illinois; Democratic Party's northern candidate in the presidential election of 1860, who died a few weeks into the war
  • Ulysses S. Grant, storekeeper in Illinois; Union general
  • Joseph Holt, Kentucky; Buchanan's Secretary of War; Lincoln's Judge-Advocate General of the Army
  • Francis Kernan, Congressman from New York
  • John A. Logan, Congressman from Illinois; Union general
  • George B. McClellan, railroad president; Union general; Democratic presidential nominee in 1864
  • Joel Parker, Governor of New Jersey
  • David Tod, Governor of Ohio
  • Edwin M. Stanton, Ohio; Buchanan's Attorney General and Lincoln's Secretary of War


  • Silbey, Joel H. A Respectable Minority: The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860-1868 (1977)