Blog Posts


Slavery and Abolition

01
In their recent book The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy wrote that “Throughout its history, the club has never had more than six” living United States Presidents. During President Abraham Lincoln’s first term as the 16th President (1861 – 1864), the Presidents Club consisted of six members, including President Lincoln and five former Presidents: Martin Van Buren (8th, 1833 – 1837), John Tyler (10th, 1841 – 1845), Millard Fillmore (13th, 1850 –1853), Franklin Pierce (14th, 1853 – 1857), and James Buchanan (15th,1857 – 1861). Their terms spanned 30 years of economic turmoil, territorial expansion, turbulent politics, and factious Supreme Court decisions. What were the positions of the members of the Presidents Club during their terms of office on the pressing issues of slavery and states’ rights leading up to the Civil War and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln?

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21
As we celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 21, 2013 and honor the many contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, let us also remember the contributions of President Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War soldiers to the abolitionist movement in the 1860s. As Orrin L. Gatchell, a private in the Excelsior Brigade of the Union Army, wrote on March 30, 1864, “And today I am fully convinced that right will triumph in this struggle and that our government will be yet based on the broad principles of freedom to all beneath our flag.” Let Freedom Ring.

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01

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago today on January 1, 1863.  The Proclamation called for the abolition of slavery. For Union soldiers, this expanded the goal of the Civil War from preserving the Union to freeing the slaves, something that was not part of their original commitment. For the Confederate soldiers, this infringed on their right to own private property and would undermine the basis of the Southern economic engine. In Orrin's Story:  Patriotism and Love of Country. The Union Now and Forever, Orrin recorded opinions on the Proclamation from both Union and Confederate soldiers and reflected on the institution of slavery as his views changed during the course of the war.

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