1. Why did Wilmer McLain say the Civil War "began in his front yard and ended in [his] front parlor"?
The first major battle of the Civil War occurred on July 21, 1861 at McLean’s farm in Manasses, Virginia. This battle is known as Bull Run and at the time was the largest bloodiest battle in American history. In the spring of 1863 McLean wanted to move away from the war, so he and his family moved west of Richmond, Virginia. On April 9, 1865 the Civil War ended with Robert E. Lee surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant in McLean’s parlor.
2. What percentage of the male population died in the Civil War?
Over three million men fought in the Civil War and two precent of the male population, over 620,000, died in the war.
3. How did the friction between states rights and a federal government contribute to the start of the Civil War?
Each state had its own opinion on the legality of slavery. As states become more divided, the federal government’s becomes more difficult as the mediator between the states. It also brought into question the extent of the federal government’s power and whether the federal government or the states could decided whether to allow or abolish slavery.
4. Discuss writer Shelby Foote's premise that the "Civil War defines us" as Americans.
The Civil War decided the kind of a country the United States wanted to be on many levels, not just an equal or unequal country but also as a divided or unified country. The Civil War left some scars of slavery and prejudice that still exist today and it has effected and continues to effect political decisions.
5. Discuss Thomas Jefferson's comment that to keep slavery in the U.S. was like "holding a wolf by the ears.."
I agree with Craig on this one, and would add that if you let go of the wolf’s ears there is a risk that it might turn around and bite you.
7. Who is Alexis de Toqueville? How did his 1830s era observations and books inform the non-slave owning world of what America was like?
Alexis de Toqueville was a French aristocrat, political thinker, and historian. His book Democracy in America is his best known work. It includes his observations of America as it developed as a country during the Civil War. One point he makes is the contradiction between America’s nationalism and sectionalism. The United States presented itself as a unified country and wanted the complete country it began as, however within America great division and conflict between states transpired during the period of the Civil War.
8. Who was John Brown?
John Brown was an (in my opinion radical) abolitionist. He wanted complete abolition of slavery in America. He led that Pottawatomie Massacre, however he is most well known for his raid of Harpers Ferry in 1859. He was executed because of this raid and was seen as a martyr for slavery.
9. Who was William Lloyd Garrison?
William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent abolitionist and journalist. He wanted slavery entirely eliminated in the United States. Garrison was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, however he is most well know for his newspaper, The Liberator.
10. Who was Elijah Lovejoy?
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was born in Albion, Maine and attended Waterville College (now Colby College). After he moved to St. Louis, Missouri he promoted the abolition of slavery in a newspaper he started, the St. Louis Observer. He was also an active member of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Lovejoy received abuse from many pro-slavery groups and eventually they murdered Lovejoy. “Elijah Parish Lovejoy was America’s first martyr to freedom of the press.”
11. What is meant by "Bleeding Kansas"?
“Bleeding Kansas” refers to the period in Kansas after the Kansas-Nebraska act passed. The Kansas-Nebraska act ruled that the decision to make Kansas and Nebraska would be left up to the people living there, also known as “popular sovereignty.” This caused Northerns and Southerners to race to Kansas to claim the area and take it over as a free or slave state which led to high tension in the area and then resulted in violence.
13. Who was Hannibal Hamlin?
Hannibal Hamlin was President Lincoln’s Vice President during the Civil War. Interestingly, before his vice presidency he was the 26th Governor of Maine.
14. How did the presidential election of 1860 lay the groundwork for Civil War?
When Abraham Lincoln was elected as president in 1860 South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana seceded from the Union, wrote a new constitution and created the Confederate States of America. These secessions directly impacted the Civil War’s commencement. The text also mentioned that Abraham Lincoln did not hate the South, and in fact was married to a Southern. He was against slavery, however one of his main goals was to bring the states together as one country. His election in 1860 prompted the beginning stages of uniting the states.
15. What state was the first to pass a secession bill? What significance does this have today, if any?
South Carolina was the first to pass the secession bill. As the leader of the movement towards the Confederate States of America it played a large role in the start of the Civil War. I am not sure if that has any implications today in South Carolina, perhaps it is a more conservative state?