“I Sprung from A Kindred Race”: George McClellan Cultivates the Irish Vote, 1863

Irish in the American Civil War

The Irish of the North overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Party during the period of the American Civil War. Many had little time for Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans, and in the 1864 Presidential Election most rowed behind George McClellan– the former commander of the Army of the Potomac– who was hugely popular among the Irish. Though his Democratic affiliations made him the natural choice for many Irish, McClellan nonetheless had put work into endearing himself to them. One such occasion was his appearance at a meeting in 1863, organised to raise funds for the relief of the poor of Ireland. McClellan no doubt saw this as an ideal opportunity to garner significant Irish support. His speech that evening is reproduced in full below, as is an explanation from one Irish Legion voter as to why he intended to support McClellan in the 1864 Election.

George McClellan and his wife during the Civil War (Library of Congress) George McClellan and his wife during the Civil War…

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