Joseph Medill (American National Biography)

Joseph P. McKerns, "Medill, Joseph," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
After John Frémont's defeat in the 1856 presidential election, Medill began planning for the 1860 election. In an interview published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1899, Medill recalled that the strategy to secure the 1860 Republican presidential nomination for Abraham Lincoln was devised in the Tribune's offices in the summer of 1859. In December 1859, the strategy was put into action when Medill went to Washington, D.C., as the Tribune's correspondent. Once there, Medill promoted Lincoln's candidacy and boosted Chicago as the site of the 1860 Republican National Convention. When the convention opened, Medill ensured that uncommitted delegations were seated close to delegations that supported Lincoln. Medill and his circle promised cabinet posts in exchange for delegate votes, thus obtaining the support of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. When Ohio shifted its support to Lincoln on the second ballot, it began a landslide that gave Lincoln the nomination.

During the Civil War, Medill supported Lincoln's policies, although at times he seemed impatient with the president and even scolded him in person when Lincoln visited the Tribune's offices. Tribune editorials harangued Lincoln to declare emancipation, confiscate Southern property, and accelerate the war effort. Medill may have supported the abolition of slavery, but his views on African Americans were racist. However, Medill was among the earliest to advocate the arming of slaves. He insisted that no soldier in the field lose his right to vote during the war; because of Medill's urging, several states passed laws to that effect in 1864.
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