The Civil War in Documents
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Series Editors’ Preface
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The Civil War in the Great Interior series focuses on the Middle West, as the complex region has come to be known, during the most critical era of American history. In his Annual Message to Congress in December of 1862, Abraham Lincoln identified “the great interior region” as the area between the Alleghenies and the Rocky Mountains, south of Canada and north of the “culture of cotton.” Lincoln...
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“We live in revolutionary times,” observed the Chicago writer and newspaper reporter Horace White, ten days after the secession of South Carolina.1 One hundred and fifty years have passed and White’s words continue to resonate. An enormous corpus of writing confirms the central place that the Civil War holds in the story of America, even as that story is continually debated and reinterpreted. ...
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It seems a long time ago when Christine Dee and Marty Hershock initially approached me about doing “the Illinois book” for Ohio University Press’s Civil War in the Great Interior series. No problem, I thought. How much work could an edited collection be? I soon realized that I had taken on a more substantial project than I first imagined. I’ve learned a great deal researching, documenting, and writing...
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Illinois was at the heart of the national crisis over slavery. Many Northerners saw Illinois, with its booming city on the lake, its rich agricultural fields and growing industries, as a model of what the West should be: a dynamic, enterprising society that fairly rewarded free white labor. The state’s geography was also pivotal. Bordered by two slave states—Missouri and Kentucky—and three major...
One: Illinois and the Politics of Slavery
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If not for the sectional crisis Illinois might well be known today as the Land of Douglas. For decades Stephen Douglas’s Democratic Party forged solid statewide majorities by emphasizing policy themes that had made Andrew Jackson, the party’s national figurehead and Douglas’s political hero, the most popular president since George Washington: low taxes, limited government, personal liberty...
Two: The Emergence of Lincoln and the Secession Crisis
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Sectional tensions mounted following the election of President James Buchanan. In 1857 the Supreme Court rendered its decision in a case involving the slave Dred Scott, who had sued for his freedom on the basis of prolonged residence in free territory. In Dred Scott v. Sandford the court not only upheld Scott’s status as a slave—as Chief Justice Roger Taney put it, a black man “had no rights...
Three: Improvising War
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Efforts in Washington to avert war came to naught in Charleston harbor in April 1861, when South Carolina batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter, one of the last strongholds of federal property in the seceded states. The attack prompted Lincoln to order the mobilization of seventy-five thousand volunteers on ninety-day terms of service to put down rebellion. In response to Lincoln’s call...
Four: Illinois and Emancipation
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Emancipation brought unprecedented change to all Illinoisans. For the state’s white majority emancipation encouraged a broader reexamination of racial attitudes and policy on the home front. For if the slaves were to be freed, what did that mean for the place of blacks in Illinois? The question spawned intense debate and continued to shape Illinois politics and society for decades to...
Five: Divided Houses
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The year 1863 was a whirlwind of breathtaking losses and stirring victories, of bitter division and violence on the home front, and yet more grievous casualties on blood-soaked fields of battle. The Union’s new strategy of emancipation—and its adjunct, the enlistment of black troops—both elevated the stakes and purpose of the war and produced determined opposition. Spring saw Grant’s campaign for...
Six: The Soldiers’ War
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More than 259,000 Illinoisans—about 15 percent of the state’s population—served in the Civil War, and of those, nearly 35,000 lost their lives. Approximately 10,000 died in battle or later as a result of wounds; the many diseases that swept through filthy encampments and unsanitary hospitals claimed the rest. Tens of thousands more survived with permanent wounds or missing limbs, and no...
Seven: Hearts and Minds in the Days of Total War
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By the war’s midpoint all aspects of Illinois life had adjusted to the reality of a long and bloody ordeal. The state’s economy increasingly reflected the changes—and opportunities—generated by war. Secession augured potential problems for Illinois farmers, who before the war were linked to Southern markets via the Mississippi and Ohio River basins. The outbreak of war disrupted this Southern...
Eight: In the Shadows of War
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The end of war confronted Illinoisans with a changed world. The federal government’s role in society had unmistakably grown, while the war had touched off a broad economic boom that pushed all sectors of the state’s economy to the doorstep of the modern industrial order. The war’s many casualties left Illinoisans in mourning and facing an uncertain future. The Union remained intact, that...
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Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Civil War in the Great Interior