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President Lincoln's War-Time Politics--Home Page

CIVIL WAR LEGAL ACTIONS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
LAW HOME PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20  


After futile pleas to the border states to free slaves voluntarily, Lincoln in the summer of 1862 decided that emancipation was a military and political necessity. The Emancipation Proclamation transformed the war from a conflict to save the Union to a war to abolish slavery. It authorized the enlistment of African Americans; 220,000 served during the war, helping to ensure the destruction of slavery.  This was the big political event during the Civil War


Political Consequences and Political Actions During the Civil War


1.  How the Civil War Started.  The U.S. Senate is given to power to "declare war" on another nation.  Did it happen this way when Fort Sumter was fired on? 

Read about how the Civil War started here.


2. During the war Congress adopted policies that altered American society.

The Homestead Act of 1862 offered free public land to western settlers. Huge land grants supported construction of a transcontinental railroad.


3. The government raised the tariff, imposed new taxes, enacted the first income tax, and established a system of federally-chartered banks, a national currency (green-backs)

Civil War Banking Acts and Greenback Currency   & Civil War Income Tax    


4. Huge land grants supported construction of a Transcontinental Railroad.


5. The Union lost about 360,000 troops during the Civil War and the Confederacy about 260,000. This is almost as many soldiers as have died in all other American wars.  

Read the N.Y. Times Article about "a new estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll. 

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.  But new research shows that the numbers were far too low.  Read the new total and how it was determined.


6.  The Emancipation Proclamation, 1862. 

This was an executive order by the President to free the slaves in the Confederate States.  There were political and practical reasons for this proclamation. 


7. The 13th Amendment, ratified in December 1865, ended slavery in the United States. 

Slavery was over, but life for the free blacks in America would not be good.  Why?


8. What happened after the 13th Amendment?  Reconstruction and Freemen after the War


9.  The First Transcontinental Telegraph System was enacted in 1860, and was operational for use by the country in 1861.


10.  How did Lincoln's elections go?  Click here for data about the elections.



President Lincoln would be elected to a second term against a popular Democrat, George McClellan (former general under Lincoln).

Study how Abraham Lincoln could maintain the leadership to "cause" all these great political events to occur.  The Civil War was not popular with all people, and when conscription (the draft) was initiated, many citizens up-roared and protested.  Lincoln and the Union Army remained on-task and would of course win the war.  Just looking at the figures of killed soldiers on both sides, this war had more American deaths than any war before or after.

Directions:  Take each of the three important political actions listed above and complete the information table: [Use the links above to read about each and answer the questions]

Political Action:



When did this occur, and what was did it accomplish? 



How does this Action effect us in the 21st Century?



Military Deaths Total







How was the Civil War death count reported to the public?  How did the constant huge numbers of deaths effect the politics of the time?  What did it take to over-ride the public's disgust with huge death reporting?





Make a comparison of deaths due to war (killing, disease, and suicides).  What would Americans think now if the number of dead was proportionate to Civil War years.  Click the N.Y. Times article about Civil War deaths.






Homestead Act







Define what the Homestead Act did.  How did this act effect secondary education, housing for Americans, growth of the country, and other ways.  Read about this act, and write an essay to describe the act.






Are there still any opportunities for citizens of America to claim land to make a farm or home?  What was ethnic backgrounds of Americans that took advantage of the Homestead Act?  Would this act pass in today's political climate?  Why would it or why would it not?   Name some of America's large colleges that were started from the Homestead Act? The Homestead Act of 1862




Tariffs, Income Tax, Greenback Currency and National Banking, and an Income Tax



Civil War Banking Acts and Greenback Currency and the Morrill Tariff of 1861 was an increased tariff in the United States, adopted on March 2, 186. The Morill Tariff is often said to be the cause of secession.  The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864, and the OCC were passed.  "Greenback" currency was established.

The First Federal Income Tax Act was in 1861.  It started out with a fixed rate for all, and was changed in 1862.








We still have the income tax in the present day.

The Morill Tariff of 1861 was replaced by the Revenue Act of 1913, but the need of a tariff on foreign imports was still needed

Civil War Banking Acts and Greenback Currency

The greenback (paper currency-- printed in green on one side was issued by the United States during the American Civil War.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) was established. 








Emancipation Proclamation








Read about the Emancipation Proclamation (an executive order from President Lincoln).  What slaves were freed from the Proclamation?  Where did they live?  Were there other slaves not freed from the Proclamation?  Why did President Lincoln write and present the Emancipation Proclamation?  Was the Proclamation an abolitionist act?  What would happen to the freed slaves after the war, if the 15th Amendment (stopping slavery) had not been passed? 



Because the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order from President Lincoln, look up Presidential Executive Orders in Google.  Make a list of of three or four presidents that issued orders, what the orders were to do, and how these orders were accepted by the public.  Compare President G.W. Bush with President Baraq Obama, on the number of executive orders issued, and what they were about.  Choose any executive orders you study, and give your opinion in an essay, as to whether they were right or not.  The Emancipation Proclamation, 1862



The 13th Amendment Passed

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865


Abraham Lincoln was a master politician.  It took him years to get his sometimes unfriendly congress, disagreeable cabinet, and the public to support the big amendment.  Lots of questions were riding with just what to do about all the free slaves that will inhabit the country.  There will be no Fugitive Slave Law, but even more evil things would exist all over the nation against the free black Americans.  Go to the 13th Amendment site to find directions to learn more about the 13th Amendment.



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