The Making of a President, 1868
The prescient Founders feared a standing army not only because of its availability to an imperial-minded president, but also to be feared for the vast constituency it would mobilize as veterans might be more loyal to their esteemed general and potential pensions, rather than the Constitution. Despite the electoral advantage of pension-hungry veterans, Grant would only win the presidency by a majority of 300,000 votes over Horatio Seymour, and owe his victory to recently enfranchised freedmen herded to the polls by the terrorist Union Leaguers. Those 500,000 freedmen provided Grant’s slim margin of victory.
Cape Fear Historical Institute
The Making of a President, 1868:
"The thought of Radicals and even of most orthodox Republicans was that the strategy of peace must bring about only such Reconstruction as would give "safety and power to the loyal." But large sections of the North…showed indifference to the Radical fire bells; they raised instead the most embarrassing questions concerning the economic burden of the war debt, the high cost of "protected" manufactured goods, the taxation of bonds, the retention of Greenbacks and an inflated money. Hence, the Radical "Directory" turned, though not without misgivings, as our parties have often done before in pursuit of their own interests, to the military captain as standard-bearer. Catechized and found safe enough by the professional politicians—only the quality of his Radicalism left some doubts—General Grant with all his aura of martial glory and successful patriotism was now borrowed for the propaganda campaign agaisnt rebels and Copperheads.
"With Grant at the masthead," one enthusiatic Republican worker had predicted, "the combined powers of darkness cannot beat us." The potential of Grant could be measured easily even before the Republican National Convention opened in May, when an impressive Soldiers and Sailors Convention, called together by (General) Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), nominated Grant by acclamation. An organized and highly-interested support by nearly 1,000,000 voters was thus assured in advance. "Death to the Traitors!" was the slogan most often heard at the torchlight processions of the Boys in Blue.
The keynote for the approaching electoral tournament was sounded by (Republican Senator) Oliver Morton…."You have laid aside your arms and assumed the character of peaceable and quiet citizens, but your duties are not all performed. The great question now confronts you…whether these precious flags are to be the emblems of barren victories, whether the heroes in war shall become mere children in peace; whether they shall shamefully and blindly surrender at the ballot-box the great prizes which they conquered upon the field."
(The Politicos, 1865-1896, Matthew Josephson, Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1938, pp. 46-47)