• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War


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.

Showing results 41-45 of 45

  • Louis Wigfall

    Photo of Louis T. Wigfall

    Ardent secessionist Louis Wigfall was one of the most hated men in the North in 1861, his name a byword for treason. On the eve of war, he was a United States senator from Texas staunchly set against compromise with the North. After a brief military career, he became a Confederate senator and opposed the central government of Jefferson Davis. Read more

  • David Wilmot

    Photo of David Wilmot

    Pennsylvania Congressman David Wilmot's "Wilmot Proviso" proposed prohibiting slavery in any territories gained from Mexico after the Mexican War. Although not an abolitionist, he did oppose the extension of slavery and its political influence, and was thus active in the Free Soil movement and the formation of the Republican Party. During the Civil War, he was Republican senator from Pennsylvania. Read more

  • Henry Wise

    Photo of Henry Wise

    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

  • Fernando Wood

    Photo of Fernando Wood

    Fernando Wood was a shipping magnate, nine-term Democratic Congressman and three-term Mayor of New York City in the middle part of the 19th century. He is best known for proposing that New York City secede from the Union and declare itself an open city in order to protect its lucrative cotton trade with the Confederacy. Read more

  • William L. Yancey

    Photo of William L. Yancey

    William Lowndes Yancey, southern politician, Confederate diplomat, journalist and orator, championed the causes of slavery, states' rights and secession in the run-up to the Civil War. Could this staunch southerner's views hold up, though, as the nation approached disunion? Read more