The Election of 1864

The summer of 1864 was one of dismay for President Abraham Lincoln and his administration: throughout the Union, the appetite for war had rapidly shrunk; particularly as compared to the heady days of 1860 that ushered Lincoln into the White House. While some voters in the North saw the continued prosecution of the war asContinue reading “The Election of 1864”

The Emancipation Proclamation

American history is replete with instances of the public pressuring a president to take action on an issue. On far fewer occasions, presidents, through speaking to voters, calling for congressional action, or issuing executive orders, have risked political capital to lead the public to advance on a prominent issue. In the middle of 1862, PresidentContinue reading “The Emancipation Proclamation”

The Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln

From the time of the Election of 1860 to the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, there was uncertainty as to how Lincoln and his administration would handle the growing Confederacy and existential crisis facing the country. 

The Election of 1860

Every presidential election is consequential, but the Election of 1860 would play a significant role in whether the United States would remain one nation. The division of the North and South on the issue of slavery threatened to cause a secession of the South. The result of the election would determine whether that threat would materialize and causeContinue reading “The Election of 1860”

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

Senator Stephen Douglas had come into the political spotlight through his work in the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which had temporarily held the country together but perpetuated the institution of slavery. Douglas, a Democrat, was a force to be reckoned with for keeping a seat in the United States Senate despite theContinue reading “The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858”

A Supreme Court Tragedy: Dred Scott v. Sandford

In 1857, the United States Supreme Court decided one of the most controversial cases in the history of the country. Just days after James Buchanan began his term as president, Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote the opinion for the Court, ruling that neither slaves nor freedmen could be citizens of the United States. The implicationsContinue reading “A Supreme Court Tragedy: Dred Scott v. Sandford”

The Evolving Political Parties of the 1850s

The Democratic Party and Whig Party were the dominant political parties from the early 1830s up until the mid-1850s. Both were institutions in national politics despite not having a coherent national organization by cobbling together a diverse group of states to win elections. While the Democrats had a more populist agenda, the Whigs were moreContinue reading “The Evolving Political Parties of the 1850s”

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

In 1844, Asa Whitney, a merchant in New York, proposed that a transcontinental railroad be built. While he hoped to lead the construction of the railroad and reap the benefits of the ambitious project, that was not to be. However, three components of his plan captured the spirit of Americans toward the construction of theContinue reading “The Kansas-Nebraska Act”

The Compromise of 1850

Upon President Zachary Taylor taking office, he sent a message to Congress deploring the sectionalism that was pervading the country. See David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 91. He looked to George Washington’s warnings against “characterizing parties by geographical discriminations,” which appeared by 1849 to be a prescient warning. Id. citing James D. Richardson,Continue reading “The Compromise of 1850”

The Theories of Slavery

In the 15 years leading up to the Civil War, a wide variety of theories emerged for how the federal government should deal with slavery expanding, or not expanding, into the territories acquired by the United States.