Important Pennsylvanians | Pennsylvania Civil War 150
Pennsylvania Civil War 150

Pennsylvania Civil War 150

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Important Pennsylvanians

  • Simon Cameron

    A former Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania turned Republican, Simon Cameron served as Abraham Lincoln’s first secretary of war. Rumors of corruption, which Cameron had fought throughout his career, followed him to his new position. As secretary of war, he was accused of mismanagement and corruption and was forced to resign in January 1862. Cameron, an early advocate of emancipation as a war measure to punish slave-owners in rebellion, continued his political career as a senator after the Civil War, becoming the leader of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party until retirement in 1877.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Octavius Catto

    Octavius Catto was a teacher and a leader in Philadelphia’s black community. During the Civil War he advocated for the use of African Americans in the Union Army and was instrumental in raising one of Pennsylvania’s first black units. After the war, Catto campaigned for the 15th amendment, which would secure black suffrage. However, the first Pennsylvania election in which African Americans were allowed to vote was marked by white anger and violence. Catto, a Republican, was assassinated during the rioting by a Democratic Party operative.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Andrew Curtin

    Born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Andrew Curtin was the two-term Republican governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. During the war, he oversaw the recruitment of Pennsylvania regiments and organized the loyal war governors’ conference in Altoona, which gathered to express support for the Emancipation Proclamation. Despite suffering from poor health near the end of the war, Curtin went on to hold several more state and national offices until his death in 1894.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Martin Delany

    Born in 1812 in Charles Town, Virginia, Martin Delany grew up in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. At 19, Delany ventured to Pittsburgh where he worked on several black-owned newspapers, including Fredrick Douglass’ The North Star. During the war he worked to recruit black soldiers and became the first black commissioned field officer in the U.S. army.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Anna Dickinson

    Anna Dickinson was a Quaker and noted abolitionist from Philadelphia. Dickinson was only 19 years old at the start of the Civil War, but she had already made a name for herself as a noted orator and writer. During the war, she went on speaking tours to raise support for the Republicans and the war effort. After the war, she continued her work to support voting rights for freed men.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • George McClellan

    Although he spent much of his adult life in New Jersey, General George McClellan was born in Pennsylvania. McClellan began the war as one of the most popular generals among the troops; however, he was sharply criticized by President Lincoln for his conservative approach to battle. In 1864, he ran for president against Lincoln on the Democratic ticket. McClellan’s popularity among the soldiers was not enough to overcome wartime suspicion of the Democratic Party, and Lincoln was re-elected. Despite the loss, McClellan’s political career was not over; he was elected governor of New Jersey in 1877.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • George Meade

    George Meade spent much of his childhood in Philadelphia and when the war broke out, he offered his services to Pennsylvania. Then, ranking as a captain, he was assigned to command a brigade of Pennsylvania volunteers. On June 28, 1863, Meade was given command of the Army of the Potomac, just a few days before facing General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite the victory at Gettysburg, many leaders criticized Meade for his cautious pursuit of the retreating Lee. Promoted to major general in 1864, Meade continued to lead the Army of the Potomac, although his influence was curtailed by the presence of his superior officer, Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union forces.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Lucretia Mott

    As an abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights, Lucretia Mott was one of Philadelphia’s most controversial citizens. Mott worked publically to advocate for greater rights for women and African Americans while privately using her home to assist fugitive slaves passing through the city. During the Civil War, she advocated allowing African Americans to serve in the military and was instrumental in the establishment of Camp William Penn, a training ground for African American soldiers.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • David Dixon Porter

    Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1813, David Dixon Porter was a career U.S. Navy officer, eventually rising to the rank of admiral during the Civil War. He commanded a squadron of ironsides on the Mississippi river during the war and played a key role in the capture of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Vicksburg, Mississippi.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Thomas Scott

    As president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, one of the largest corporations in the county, Thomas Scott was a major recipient of contracts from the war department to provide supplies and transportation to the Union army. After the war, he was involved in settling the disputed presidential election of 1876, which resulted in an end to Reconstruction and the removal of federal troops from the South. Scott’s involvement in assuring Hayes the presidency won him political favor that he used to gain government support during the Great Strike of 1877.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Thaddeus Stevens

    Thaddeus Stevens was one of the most important Republicans to represent Pennsylvania during the Civil War. An ardent supporter of abolition, Stevens used his Gettysburg law practice to defend fugitive slaves and frequently supported anti-slavery measures in the Pennsylvania state legislature and in Congress. As a Radical Republican and a member of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction, he became a leading advocate for the rights of recently freed slaves in the South.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Jane Swisshelm

    Jane Swisshelm was born in Pittsburgh, and was a strong anti-slavery and women’s rights advocate. In 1848, she established the anti-slavery newspaper, the Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter, After moving to Minnesota, she founded another newspaper, the St. Cloud Visiter. After a pro-slavery mob attacked the newspaper office and destroyed the printing press, she launched another anti-slavery paper, the St. Cloud Democrat. During the war, she also worked as a nurse for the Union Army.

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  • George W. Woodward

    George Woodward was the controversial Democratic nominee for governor of Pennsylvania in 1863. Woodward was an important judicial figure in Pennsylvania and had been unsuccessfully nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court before his gubernatorial nomination. His controversial support for peace with the Confederacy led many to label him as a “copperhead.” Despite his loss in the gubernatorial election, Woodward went on to serve as a representative in Congress.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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