When the Whig Party split over slavery in the 1850s, there was an open position for the main rival of the Democrats. The “radical” Republican Party beat out the Know Nothings to fill the void. Their mere existence led to secession and Civil War. From humble beginnings, the Republican Party became the dominant political force of the late Nineteenth Century. The “Third Party System,” ranging from 1856-1894, encompasses the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Gilded Age.
The end of the Civil War was in sight. But, of course, that wouldn’t be the end of America’s sectional crisis. Reconstruction posed its own set of challenges. Let’s find out how Americans faced this new era!
It's weird to think that there were two American governments during the Civil War. Before we move on to Reconstruction in the main series, I thought it would be interesting to discuss how the South found their president.
More Americans lost their lives in the Civil War than in any other war. Every decision weighed heavily on Lincoln, which had visible effects on his appearance. 1864 was the first election held during wartime since 1812. Allowing the election to be held at all was a crucial, frankly underrated, decision by Lincoln. Many believed the election should be postponed, but Lincoln insisted it was necessary to preserve our democracy, even if he might lose. But hey, he's the greatest president of all time for a reason.
Understandably, we mostly think about Abraham Lincoln as a wartime president, and rarely as a candidate. Believe it or not, voters in 1860 didn’t know he was the greatest president ever! Before Lincoln could put the country back together, others had to tear it apart. It's time for the most consequential election in American history.
In light of ~recent events~ I am going to write three extra posts about the presidents who have faced impeachment - AND LIVED! First up, the man who only had Abraham Lincoln's legacy to live up to.