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

Showing results 6-10 of 41

  • 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

  • David Wilmot

    Portrait of Senator 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

  • Gettysburg National Military Park

    Edward Everett

    Photo of Edward Everett

    Though arguably one of the most accomplished figures of his time, Edward Everett is perhaps best known as the speaker who preceded Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg. Read more

  • Elihu Washburne

    Photo of Honorable Elihu Benjamin Washburne

    Politician and diplomat, Elihu Benjamin Washburn was one of four brothers from Maine who helped establish the Republican Party in four different states. How would his influence ultimately shape the coming war? Read more

  • Fernando Wood

    Photo of Congressman and New York Mayor 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

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