National Historic Figures | Pennsylvania Civil War 150
Pennsylvania Civil War 150

Pennsylvania Civil War 150

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National Historic Figures

  • Clara Barton

    Clara Barton is most famous for her work in nursing during the Civil War. She engaged in both organizational aspects of medical care, gathering much needed supplies for battlefield surgeons, and personal care of injured soldiers. She continued her work by founding the American Red Cross as a neutral battlefield service, which eventually became an international organization through her nursing work during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

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    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Ambrose Burnside

    Ambrose Burnside, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican war, began his Civil War service as a brigadier-general. A reluctant Burnside took command of the Army of the Potomac after President Lincoln relieved General George McClellan from command in November 1862. After a dismal winter plagued by military failure and low morale, Burnside resigned in January 1863. He was reassigned to Ohio where he led the effort to curb disloyalty and dissent, issuing the order that resulted in the arrest and exile of Ohio peace Democrat Clement Vallandigham.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Salmon P. Chase

    Salmon P. Chase served as President Lincoln’s first Secretary of the Treasury. As such, he had enormous power over the funding of the Civil War. As a supporter of “greenbacks, ” Chase pushed for the Legal Tender Act of 1862, which authorized the use of paper money not redeemable in gold or silver. A supporter of voting rights for African Americans and radical reconstruction, Chase resigned from the office in 1864 due to a controversy regarding the appointment of high-level officials in the Treasury Department. Despite this, Lincoln nominated Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court later that year.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Jefferson Davis

    Jefferson Davis was the first and only president of the Confederacy. Originally from Kentucky, Davis served as a Democratic U.S. senator for Mississippi as well as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. He assumed the presidency of the Confederacy in 1861. He was an unpopular president, as many southerners blamed military defeat on his administration. However, due to longer terms of office in the Confederacy, there was not another presidential election before the end of the war.

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  • Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix, best known for her reform of prisons and asylums for the mentally disabled, was appointed the superintendent of nurses for the Union army in June 1861. But her take-charge leadership style frustrated male doctors and army officers and did not lend itself well to managing a large organization of female nurses. She was gradually relieved of her responsibility. After the war, she returned to her reform work for the remainder of her life.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass was born into slavery on Maryland’s eastern shore and escaped to the North when he was 20 years old. Douglass became involved with the abolitionist movement, rising to leadership through his impressive oratory skills. He published several newspapers aimed at spreading the abolitionist cause and improving African American rights. During the Civil War, he was an advocate for African American military service, and two of his sons served in the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first African American regiments organized.

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  • Ulysses S. Grant

    Ulysses S. Grant is often viewed as one of the most successful generals during the Civil War. His victories in the western theater led to his appointment to the position of general-in-chief of the Union army in 1864. Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. Grant transformed his popularity into a political career when he won the U.S. presidency in 1869. He was a supporter of Radical Reconstruction and saw the passage of the 15th amendment during his time in office.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson

    Prior to the Civil War, Thomas Jackson attended West Point, served in the Mexican War and was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. He became one of the most celebrated Confederate generals, and his success at the Battle of Bull Run earned him the nick name “Stonewall.” He was shot in a friendly-fire incident at the Battle of Chancellorsville and died eight days later on May 10, 1863.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Andrew Johnson

    Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the United States. He took office after the assassination of President Lincoln and oversaw the early years of Reconstruction. His term in office was marked by deep conflict with Congress, which eventually led to his impeachment. Johnson supported a lenient process for returning southern states to the Union while many radicals in Congress wanted to do more to secure rights for freed slaves and prevent former Confederates from holding positions of power. Although Johnson was not removed from office, he was not re-elected in 1869.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Robert E. Lee

    Robert E. Lee , of Virginia, attended West Point and served in the Mexican War. When Virginia seceded from the Union, Lee agreed to take command of the Army of Northern Virginia. As a commander, Lee was immensely popular in the South and became a symbol of Confederate patriotism. Lee was forced to surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in April 1865. Lee spent the rest of his life in Virginia, serving as the president of Washington College until his death on October 12, 1870.

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  • Abraham Lincoln

    The 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky. He spent most of his life in Illinois, where he practiced law and famously debated Stephen A. Douglas during his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. He won the presidency in 1860 and was re-elected in 1864. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, while watching a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., just a few days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Irvin McDowell

    Irvin McDowell was a West Point graduate and a Mexican War veteran. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he worked with Winfield Scott to organize the Union army. He took command of the Army of the Potomac before the first major engagement of the war at Bull Run. After the embarrassing defeat at Bull Run, President Lincoln replaced McDowell with George McClellan. McDowell continued to serve under McClellan during the early years of the war but was eventually transferred to the Department of the Pacific and lived the rest of his life in California.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • George Pickett

    George Pickett joined the Confederate army at the beginning of the Civil War as a colonel and worked his way up to the rank of a general. He is best known for his disastrous assault on Cemetery Ridge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, which had casualty rates of more than 50 percent. The charge, though ordered by General Robert E. Lee, later became known as Pickett’s Charge.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Dred Scott

    Dred Scott sued for his and his family’s freedom based on their long stay in the free state of Illinois and the Wisconsin territory. In 1857, his case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where Chief Justice Taney made the controversial and legally questionable ruling that African Americans—slave or free—were not citizens, that Scott would remain a slave and that Congress had no right to outlaw slavery in the territories. The ruling caused great controversy in the North where many claimed the court was biased. Scott and his family were eventually bought by supporters and given their freedom.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • William H. Seward

    William H. Seward was a Republican senator from New York and 1860 presidential candidate. After Abraham Lincoln was elected president, Lincoln offered Seward the position of Secretary of State. Viewed as one of the most radical members of Lincoln’s cabinet, Seward was hated by many of Lincoln’s opponents. On April 14, 1865, the night Lincoln was assassinated, an attempt was also made on Seward’s life. Seward survived and went on to serve as Secretary of State under President Johnson, where he organized the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • William Tecumseh Sherman

    William Tecumseh Sherman commanded the Army of the Tennessee under Ulysses S. Grant in the western theater. He is best known for his capture of Atlanta, Georgia, and his destructive March to the Sea, which cut through the heart of the Confederacy in the southeast. His advance severely weakened the Confederacy and was instrumental in bringing about a final Union victory.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Edwin M. Stanton

    Edwin M. Stanton was President Lincoln’s chosen replacement for Simon Cameron as Secretary of War. While in office, Stanton corrected many of the improper and wasteful practices that had prevailed under Cameron. He also took a much harsher position on internal dissent and sought to remove army officers whom he felt were too sympathetic toward the South. Though he had started out as a Democrat, Stanton supported the impeachment measures against President Johnson, which centered on Johnson’s attempts to remove Stanton from office.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Alexander Stephens

    Alexander Stephens was the vice president of the Confederacy. Before the war, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of his native state of Georgia. He was a member of the Whig party for most of his political career, only becoming a Democrat after the Whig party dissolved in the late 1850s. Despite serving as Andrew Davis’ vice president, he did not support Davis and blamed him for the many failings of the Confederacy. Stephens is best remembered for his “Cornerstone ” speech in which he declared slavery the foundation of the Confederacy.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • J. E. B. Stuart

    James Ewell Brown Stuart, a graduate of West Point, became nationally recognized for his role in the suppression of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Stuart served as commander of the Confederate cavalry under General Robert E. Lee. His use of the cavalry during the Gettysburg campaign and his lateness to the battle drew sharp criticism; some blamed him for the loss. Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, part of the Overland campaign, on May 11, 1864.

    Courtesy of The National Archives

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  • Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Harriet Beecher Stowe was a prominent abolitionist best known for her 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. First published in serial form in the newspaper The National Era, the book caused a great stir throughout the country, becoming a bestseller in the North and often being banned in the South.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Roger B. Taney

    Roger B. Taney was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at the time President Lincoln took office in 1861. Known for his controversial pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case, where he ruled that African Americans had no rights as citizens, he conflicted with Lincoln when he ruled in Ex Parte Merryman against Lincoln’s use of military arrest to maintain control of Maryland, an important border state. Taney continued to oppose Lincoln throughout his presidency.

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  • Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s eastern shore in 1820. While there, she married a local free black man. Five years after her marriage, she began to fear that she would be sold in the South so she took her chance to escape to freedom. Along the way, she was assisted by members of the Underground Railroad who helped her reach a fugitive slave community in Canada. Tubman did not stay safely in the North but returned to the South 19 more times to rescue family members and others. She is thought to have led nearly 300 people to freedom on these trips, without losing a single person to capture.

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    Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Clement Vallandigham

    Clement Vallandigham was one of the best known opponents of the Civil War, controversially arguing for peace with the Confederacy. Vallandigham’s speeches were so controversial that he was arrested for treason in 1863 and banished to the Confederacy. However, Vallandigham did not stay in the South; he instead went to Canada where he campaigned unsuccessfully for governor of Ohio. His actions caused many people to associate the Democratic Party with treason and the label of “copperhead, ” severely hurting the Democratic campaign for presidency in 1864.

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