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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In 1856, John C. Breckinridge became the youngest vice president in U.S. history as the running mate of James Buchanan and four years later he lost the presidency to Abraham Lincoln. Siding with the Confederacy despite his native Kentucky remaining in the Union, Breckinridge rose to the rank of major general and became Confederate Secretary of War during the final weeks of the conflict. Read more
John C. Calhoun was one of the most powerful politicians and political theorists in South Carolina history. Throughout his 40 year career he served as a Congressman, Secretary of War, Senator, Vice President, and Secretary of State. Learn more about how Calhoun's views on slavery and states' rights polarized America and helped in propelling a nation towards civil war. Read more
An accomplished secretary, diplomat, and author, John Hay was one of Lincoln's closest advisors during his years in the White House. Read more
Governor of Mississippi at the time of the Civil War, John Pettus was a dedicated secessionist who boldly proclaimed: "I am Mississippian to the Core. My ancestors are buried upon her hillsides. I am, and have been and ever expect to be within her borders. Whatever may happen, I am with her Heart and Soul." Read more
John Milton, the son and grandson of Revolutionary and War of 1812 veterans and a descendent of the famed poet of the same name, was elected Governor of Florida during the election of 1860. An ardent southern supporter, he may have survived the battles of the Civil War, but could he survive the bitter agony of defeat? Read more