by Gary W. Gallagher

The Civil War marked a defining moment in United States history. Long simmering sectional tensions reached a critical stage in 1860–1861 when eleven slaveholding states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. Political disagreement gave way to war in April 1861, as Confederates insisted on their right to leave the Union and the loyal states refused to allow them to go. Four years of fighting claimed almost 1.5 million casualties (killed, dead from disease, wounded, or taken prisoner, and of whom at least 620,000 died) directly affected untold civilians, and freed four million enslaved African Americans.More »

Essays

Field Relief Work at Gettysburg

Author: Jane E. Schultz Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Walt Whitman, 1863 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Lincoln and Whitman

Author: David S. Reynolds Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
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Featured Primary Sources

“The Old Bull Dog on the Right Track,” Currier and Ives, NY, 1864. (GLC08594)

A political cartoon of Grant and Lee, 1864

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Art, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln, General Orders No. 141, September 25, 1862 (GLC06099)

A proclamation on the suspension of habeas corpus, 1862

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Mary Oden to Emily J. Semmes, July 10, 1863. (GLC07225)

Civil War condolence letter for General Paul Semmes, 1863

Creator: Mary Oden Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
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Multimedia

The Blind Memorandum: Abraham Lincoln and Leadership

Speaker(s): Matthew Pinsker Duration: 7 minutes 44 seconds

What Caused the Civil War?

Speaker(s): Edward L. Ayers Duration: 1 minute 37 seconds

A Teacher’s Tour of Ford’s Theatre

Speaker(s): Matthew Pinsker Duration: 10 minutes 59 seconds
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