Articles tagged with: Civil War

The Roots of Liberty and Slavery

In 1888, John F. Smith was commissioned by Library of Congress to create a map depicting his impression of slavery’s spread across the United States. Created decades after the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the map is obviously subject to over twenty years of historical interpretation and the experience of Reconstruction. Nevertheless, Smith’s map offers an interesting view on slavery’s spread and the roots of its decline. Viewed through the lens of history, this map can support the viewpoint that the destruction of slavery was not an initial aim of the United States Civil War.

Two Accounts of Lincoln’s Assassination

President Abraham Lincoln shortly before his assassination.

President Abraham Lincoln

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot while he viewed “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. While numerous accounts of that fateful day exist, a May 28, 1865 letter from Dr. Charles Leale is especially moving as Dr. Leale was the first doctor to treat the stricken president. Combined with a diary entry from Horatio Nelson Taft, both the medical response and the human reaction to Lincoln’s assassination are visible.

The Humility of Abraham Lincoln

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of his most remembered speeches, the Gettysburg Address. Given in commemoration of the cemetery created to honor the soldiers who gave their lives on the Pennsylvania battlefield, Doris Kearns Goodwin notes that President Lincoln “translated the story of his country and the meaning of the war to words and ideas accessible to every American.” In fact, the main speaker of the day, Edward Everett, later wrote Lincoln to express that the president’s short speech accomplished what took him two hours to accomplish. While Goodwin’s passage aptly describes Lincoln’s speech, two key passages of the Gettysburg Address also embody the humility of the American president.

Lincoln’s Assassination From the Front Row

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

History is full of emotion. From the anger present in American households after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor to the elation at hand when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, emotion walks hand-in-hand with history.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater is no different. Journeying through the diary of Horatio Nelson Taft provides a front row seat to the emotion experienced as a nation’s hero fell under an enemy’s gun.

Lincoln and the Lure of Dictatorship

George Washington reviews troops during the Whiskey Rebellion.

George Washington reviews troops during the Whiskey Rebellion.

In the nearly 226 years since the United States Constitution was ratified, America has weathered numerous storms. From the Whiskey Rebellion to September 11, crisis after crisis has been addressed. While the powers of each of the various governmental branches have fluctuated based on the demands of the situation at hand, one reality has remained constant: true dictatorial powers have never been assumed.

This is not to say, however, that such power grabs have not been suggested.

General Lee’s Leadership Lesson

A century and a half ago, nearly 200,000 men stood before each other with arms ready atcivil-war-gettysburg-lees-map-l Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Over the next three days, one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War would unfold south of the city as Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge became immortalized in American history. By the end of the battle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Norther Virginia retreated south while nearly 8,000 men lay dead on the fields of battle.

The United States Navy and the Civil War Enrollment Act

"The Conscript Bill! How to Avoid it!!" 07037_2003_001On March 3, 1863, the United States Congress passed the Enrollment Act. Instituting a revised military draft to fill the Union’s increasing manpower needs, the Act called on all males aged twenty to forty-five years old to potentially serve in the United States Army for not longer than three years. The text of the Enrollment Act can be read here.

The Act had numerous exemptions from military service. Section Two of the Act allowed various federal officials, certain sons of dependent widows and infirm parents, and others to escape compulsory service. It was also possible for drafted men to pay a fee to be relieved of their duty to serve or offer a substitute.

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