Stories from PA History
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Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of the Civil War
Lincoln's path to greatness passed through Pennsylvania, from his participation in the Republican Party's first convention in 1856 through his declaration of the nation's "new birth of freedom" at Gettysburg in 1863. Pennsylvania itself played a crucial role in shaping the Civil War era, not just on the battlefield, but through efforts of James Buchanan, Simon Cameron, Andrew Curtin, Thaddeus Stevens, and other native sons.

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Overview: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of the Civil War
Chapter One: Pennsylvania Democrats
Chapter Two: Rise of the Republican Party
Chapter Three: Wartime Mobilization
Chapter Four: Gettysburg Address

Historical Markers In the Story
marker icon Abraham Lincoln (Bristol) (Bucks) marker icon Abraham Lincoln (Harrisburg) (Dauphin)
marker icon David Wilmot (Bradford) marker icon First Republican National Convention (Philadelphia)
marker icon Galusha Grow (Susquehanna) marker icon Lincoln Biography (Chester)
marker icon Lincoln Homestead (Berks) marker icon Lincoln Nomination (Wayne)

Lesson Plans for this Story
Take your students back in history with these discussions and activities for the classroom

Story Bibliography

Original Documents
icon full text Abraham Lincoln's  Autobiographical Sketch, written for the Chester County Times, 1859

1846 Rep. David Wilmot (D, Pa) introduces a "proviso" to prohibit slavery in any territory acquired as a result of the Mexican War
1854 Republican Party organizations, under a variety of names, begin to form across the North
1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act creates national controversy over the prospect of extending slavery into the western territories
1856 At the First Republican national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania nominates John Frémont for president and William Dayton for vice-president
1856 Democrat James Buchanan defeats Republican John Frémont and American Party candidate Millard Fillmore to become the nation's fifteenth president
1856 Republican organizers meeting in Pittsburgh call for the new party's first national convention
1857 U.S. Supreme Court rules in Dred Scott v. Sanford that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the territories
1858 Pennsylvania congressman Galusha Grow gets involved in a fistfight with a southern House member that turns into an unprecedented brawl
1860 - 1861 Seven states from the Deep South secede from the Union rather than accept the legitimacy of Lincoln's election
1860 Abraham Lincoln is nominated for president by the Republican Party at its national convention in Chicago
1860 Lincoln wins a four-way contest for president with a significant majority of the electoral vote, but only 39 percent of the popular ballot
1861 First Battle of Bull Run in July results in embarrassing Union defeat
1861 In April, Confederates fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina and the Civil War begins
1861 In April, Camp Curtin opens on the outskirts of Harrisburg
1862 In September, President Lincoln announces his intention to emancipate Rebel-owned slaves
1862 Pennsylvania governor Andrew Curtin hosts a face-to-face meeting for 14 loyal governors at Altoona, Pennsylvania, from September 24-26
1862 Union forces stop the Confederate invasion of Maryland in the Battle of Antietam in September
1862 In January, Secretary of War Simon Cameron is forced to leave office
1863 From July 1 to July 3, the Battle of Gettysburg takes place, marking a turning point in the war
1863 Lincoln delivers his famous Gettysburg Address on November 19th at the dedication of the national cemetery
1863 Camp William Penn begins training black soldiers for combat in June
1863 Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st
1864 President Lincoln meets his "representative recruit," Pennsylvania native John Staples in October
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