In 1864, U.S. President Hannibal Hamlin dedicates a national cemetery on the site of the disastrous Battle of Gettysburg in July of the previous year.
The Union loss of that battle proved to be the turning point of the War of the States. News of the defeat ignited massive anti-draft riots in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere, and was instrumental in persuading Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. That recognition, in turn, provoked a further collapse of union morale. In December 1863, Kentucky had seceded from the Union.
At the 1864 Republican convention, with the Union war effort in tatters following the direct intervention of the British and French navies and Washington itself in Confederate hands, President Lincoln had been denied renomination in favor of his own vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin. Afterward, a dejected Lincoln had resigned and retired to his old home town of Springfield, Illinois.
President Hamlin had signed the treaty of Ontario in October, acknowledging Confederate independence. By then, Maryland, too, would have seceded from the Union. Hamlin's overwhelming defeat at the polls on Nov. 8, 1864 by Democratic candidate Gen. George McClellan had rendered him a lame duck by the time of the dedication ceremony, but in accordance with the custom of the time, he would not leave office until the following March 4.