Rare Civil War Soldiers’ Poll-Book – Election of 1864


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Rare Civil War Soldiers’ Poll-Book – Election of 1864 – During the election of 1864, 19 Union states, including Pennsylvania, allowed soldiers in the field to cast their votes by absentee ballot. In Pennsylvania, absentee elections were conducted on October 11, 1864 (as denoted in this poll book, being the second Tuesday in October) and election officials recorded the votes of various companies of soldiers in poll-books. This poll-book for the election held on October 11, 1864, notes the votes cast by members of Company F, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Utilizing these poll-books, Union soldiers, from Pennsylvania, cast absentee ballots, in 1864. By lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 and relaxing property ownership requirements, parties sought to attract more voters during the Civil War and Reconstruction and in periods of high immigration.

This poll-book represents that of Company F of the 47th Pa. Volunteer Infantry, with voting “held at camp, in the field near Middletown, Virginia”. It is representative of soldiers from Lehigh Country; it lists the names of the “electors” participating in this election. The offices listed as being the objects of this election and the soldiers’ voting tallies were: U.S. House of Representatives – Congressman from the State of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State Senator and State House of Representatives member, County Coroner, County Commissioner, Director of the Poor, County Treasurer and County Auditor.

The book is in overall fine condition. On the cover, is boldly titled “POLL BOOK October Elections Companies”; on the back cover, which is separated into three segments along old fold lines, is a period label reading “Lehigh”. The front and back covers are firmly bound together, and all of the component pages are in fine, readily legible condition. These original poll-books are rarely encountered outside of historical societies and university collections.