Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

On July 26, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln appointed General George McClellan commander of the Military Division of the Potomac, which by August included the Army of the Potomac. McClellan had previously gained national attention as commander of the Department of the Ohio, particularly through his victories while occupying Unionist regions of western Virginia that would later form part of West Virginia. As the leader of the Army of the Potomac, however, McClellan took a cautious approach that led to tensions with President Lincoln and others who wished to see greater aggression toward the Confederate Army.

Though McClellan had success in organizing the army and maintained great popularity among his troops, Lincoln ultimately removed the general from his post in November 1862. After an unsuccessful run against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election and the conclusion of the Civil War, McClellan left for Europe, though he eventually returned and served one term as governor of New Jersey.

A photograph by well-known Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner shows President Abraham Lincoln and General George McClellan after the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Lincoln would remove McClellan from his post only a few weeks after this meeting. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

In Opening History, see the Library of Congress Civil War Photographs collection for thousands of images taken throughout the war, including portraits of McClellan.


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On February 28, 1854, the Republican party was envisioned in a Ripon, Wisconsin, school house (which still stands today), by 30 men who felt a new party must be formed with the intention of halting the spread of slavery throughout the United States and its territories. There is still some debate about the official beginning of the party, as the first meeting of a group officially calling themselves Republicans did not occur until July 1854 in Jackson, Michigan, but the Ripon meeting laid an important foundation for the party’s development.

An aerial view of Ripon, Wisconsin, as it stood in 1867. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

The group met primarily in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an 1854 bill passed under the leadership of future Democratic presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas. The new law nullified the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which would have forbidden slavery in Kansas or Nebraska, and instead instituted popular sovereignty, which allowed for residents to vote on whether to bring the territories into the Union as “slave states” or “free states.” The most famous Republican of his time, Abraham Lincoln engaged Douglas in seven well-known debates in 1858, discussing issues such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott case. These debates helped bring Lincoln to national prominence, and in 1860 he became the first Republican to successfully run for president (John C. Fremont ran unsuccessfully in 1856.).

A portrait of Abraham Lincoln in 1858, the year of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. Image courtesy of Northern Illinois University

Opening History provides many resources related to the history of the Republican Party, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Abraham Lincoln. Territorial Kansas Online, a project of the Kansas State Historical Society and University of Kansas, sheds light on the politics and violence that stemmed from the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project from Northern Illinois University offers a focus on Lincoln’s Illinois years. The Iowa Women’s Archives Founders collection from the University of Iowa offers a later view of the Republican Party, including materials on Louise Noun, the first female chair of the Republican National Committee.

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Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln

Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln

Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection
More information at Opening History

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