Photo of Confederate President Jefferson Davis

An enormous range of beliefs flowed across the political landscape of pre-Civil War America, and this is reflected in the rise and fall of a dozen different political parties that tried and failed to find a unifying political strategy that would end sectional strife. Only the events of April 12, 1861 would clarify this landscape and politicians of every description welcomed it… at first.

People from Politicians

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  • Gettysburg National Military Park

    Andrew Curtin

    Photo of Andrew Curtin

    Republican Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew Curtin found his chief role in the war in June of 1863, when Lee's Army of Northern Virginia invaded his state, which culminated in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was also a friend of President Lincoln, and helped marshal support for the war amongst Union governors. Read more

  • Vicksburg National Military Park

    Cadwallader Washburn

    Photo of Hon. Cadwallader Colden Washburn

    In 1854, Cadwallader Washburn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Illinois, the first of his three terms. He served as a delegate to the 1861 Washington Peace Conference, a final effort by the states to prevent civil war. Read more

  • Christopher Memminger

    Photo of Christopher Memminger

    Christopher Memminger was a South Carolina politician and financial expert who helped draft his state's official justification for secession and the Confederate Constitution. Read more

  • Claiborne Jackson

    Photo of Claiborne Jackson

    Claiborne Jackson was the Governor of Missouri from 1860 until he and other secessionists lawmakers were forced from office by loyalist troops in 1861. Jackson fled to southwestern Missouri then Confederate Arkansas, where he died in 1862. Read more

  • Clement L. Vallandigham

    Photo of Claire Laird Vallandigham

    An Ohio Congressman, Clement Vallandigham served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1858 until 1862. While in Congress he became a leader of the Copperhead faction of anti-war Democrats and a vigorous proponent of states' right, including the right to secede. Read more

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