Part of the USA Today Network
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln late in the Civil War (LOC)

1864 Election: Lincoln Lost York County

Abraham Lincoln was not popular in York County, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War years. Most of the populace tended to be Democrats, particularly in the southern and western townships. The Illinois Republican had more support to the north and east, especially close to the river. Venture near the Mason-Dixon line and the anti-Lincoln, pro-Democratic sentiment intensified. For example, in the election of 1864, residents of rural Manheim Township cast 216 ballots for Democratic challenger Major General George B. McClellan. The New Jersey soldier had commanded “Mr. Lincoln’s Army” early in the war. Only eight men in the entire township voted for President Lincoln in 1864. That, however, was a fourfold increase from 1860, when only two voters supported him.

In the borough of York, Lincoln received 44% of the 1,792 ballots cast. He lost Codorus Township by a whopping margin of 423 to 19 and Dover by a 434-82 final tally. Spring Garden and Shrewsbury were other notable Democratic bastions (voting 402-127 and 407-155 respectively). In North Codorus Township, Lincoln drew only 56 votes versus 399 for his challenger. Other than populous York borough, Lincoln received his highest vote total in Lower Windsor Township, winning it handily by a count of 275-112.

The major exception to this generality of a solid Democratic “wall” in southern York County was Hanover. There, in the town of roughly 1,000 people, a female-owned Republican newspaper held considerable local sway. Spectator publisher Maria Leader remained influential, helping the president win 224-114.

Across York County, 7,785 men voted for “Little Mac,” as the former commander of the Army of the Potomac was fondly called.  Only 4,696 residents decided for Lincoln. That was a far worse percentage of the total vote than in 1860. Then, Lincoln received 5,128 votes, or 47%, in a four-way election. Lincoln easily carried the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1864 and its critical 26 electoral votes, taking 51.75% of the popular vote.

The York County tabulation did not include the votes of the patients and staff of the U. S. Army General Hospital on Penn Common. Lincoln was extremely popular with Union soldiers across the country. At the York Hospital, he amassed 1,240 votes versus only 368 for McClellan.

Sources: September 20, 1864, Lewisburg (PA) Chronicle and November 15, 1864, York True Democrat.