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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Henry Wise was a multi-term Congressman from Virginia whose prewar fame came from being governor of Virginia at the time of John Brown's raid in 1859. Wise was an ardent secessionist and defender of slavery, and played an influential role in the Virginia secession convention. During the war, Wise was a brigadier general of no particular distinction. Read more
Humphrey Marshall was a congressman from Kentucky in both the United States and Confederate States Congresses who had a brief, though unsuccessful, military career early in the war. Read more
James Garfield was a Republican Party politician from Ohio who was rapidly promoted to major general in the Union army in the early months of the Civil War, and later elected President of the United States. He was the second U.S. president to be assassinated. Read more
James Henry Hammond was one of the South's most outspoken defenders of slavery, popularizing the phrase "Cotton is King" and arguing for nullification, states' rights and advancing the Mudsill Theory. Read more
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