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 33

  • 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

  • Fort Sumter National Monument

    Francis Wilkinson Pickens

    Photo of Francis Pickens

    In his capacity as Governor of South Carolina, Francis Pickens initiated the first military action of the Civil War on January 9, 1861, when he authorized an attack on the Federal supply ship Star of the West in Charleston harbor. Read more

  • Henry Clay

    Photo of Henry Clay

    Henry Clay, lawyer, politician and skilled speaker, was known as the Great Compromiser for his role in brokering compromises in Congress on the issue of slavery in the first half of the 19th century. Read more

  • Henry Wise

    Painting of Henry A. 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

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