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Civil War Chronicles

Southern Source Ross Address
Northern Source      Frémont Emancipation Proclamation
Northern Source Boston Journal

American Heritage expands its Civil War coverage as the sesquicentennial begins

Civil War Chronicles, the American Heritage column that’s devoted to this nation’s greatest conflict, has expanded and taken new shape in the following pages. Read more >>

The nation's leading authority on the conflict explains why the Civil War still fascinates us

One hundred and fifty years after the guns began shelling Fort Sumter this April, Americans remain fascinated with the Civil War. Why do we care about a war that ended so long ago? Read more >>

The highly lucrative cotton crop of 1860 emboldened the South to challenge the economic powerhouse of the North

In the mid- to late summer of 1860, billions of soft pink and white Gossypium hirsutum blooms broke out across South Carolina, Georgia, western Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, soon to morph into puffy white bolls. Read more >>

Bare-knuckles politicking and a brilliant campaign strategy enabled the dark horse to win

Ten thousand delegates, reporters, and spectators poured into Chicago from 24 different states and territories the second week of May 1860—all fully believing, as one put it, that their choice “would be the next President of the United States.” That year’s Republican convention would prove to be Read more >>

A lively dialogue over the economics of slavery played out in newspapers and magazines on the eve of the Civil War

 One hundred fifty years ago on a “frigid and repulsive” January day in New York, 30-year-old William G. Sewell departed on a steamer for Barbados, the first stop on a tour of the Caribbean island colonies of the British West Indies. Read more >>

South Carolina severed ties with the Union not out of concern for states' rights but because of slavery

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 1860, some 170 men marched through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, walking from St. Andrews Hall to a new meetinghouse amid the cheers of onlookers. Half of them were more than 50 years old, most well-known. Read more >>

Lincoln came out a victor in the 1860 presidential election despite winning only 2 percent of the Southern vote

Just six months before the presidential election of November 1860 and only days after winning his party’s nomination, Abraham Lincoln received some stunning advice from one of his chief supporters, William Cullen Bryant. Read more >>

Lincoln’s oration at New York’s Cooper Union showed that the prairie lawyer could play in the big leagues

On the frigid and stormy evening of February 27, 1860, so the newspapers reported, Abraham Lincoln climbed onto the stage of the cavernous Great Hall of New York’s newest college, Cooper Union, faced a room overflowing with people, and delivered the most important speech of his life. Read more >>

Without the material support of a half-dozen prominent northerners known as the Secret Six, John Brown’s attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry 150 years ago may well never have occurred

ON OCTOBER 17, 1909, a small group of former abolitionists quietly gathered in an imposing brick house in Concord, Massachusetts, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John Brown’s historic raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, then a part of Virginia. Read more >>