In The West Wing

In this episode we begin a two part series on the history of the American Civil War. With hostilities at the battle of Fort Sumter, we explore the interpersonal squabbles of Union high command, the enactment of a Republican economic agenda, and the emancipation of millions of enslaved Americans.

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President Shrimpo

What is In The West Wing?

A deep dive into the political history of the United States, hosted by President Shrimpo. In the West Wing with President Shrimpo is a deep dive into the political history of the United States. Each episode looks at the people and driving factors that created the country we live in today with special focus on the stories and voices least heard.

President Shrimpo 0:01
Hello, my name is President Shrimpo, and you're listening to in the West Wing, a political history podcast brought to you by WKNC, 88.1. And this week's episode is the first part of a two part series, covering the greatest battle for the soul of our nation, the American Civil War.

So where we left off with episode 10 was the very beginning, the American Civil War, and sort of the immediate fallout of the election of 1860, with the sort of secession crisis, and Battle of Fort Sumpter, and so we're gonna kind of pick up where we left off. So the first thing that I really need to say, is we're actually gonna like look back a little bit before the Battle of Fort Sumter just to kind of give some more context. So I think something important to say is that Lincoln didn't initially treat threats of secession seriously. And that's because Lincoln, like a lot of other northern politicians believed they sort of perceived the whole thing as southerners bluffing. And so he didn't necessarily take on the sort of crisis sort of mindset as early as he could have simply because he just, he just didn't think that southerners were really willing to go to such an extreme right away. But the fact of the matter was, that they were. So in any case, during the sort of transition period, between Election Day of 1860, and inauguration day, on March of 1861, Lincoln spent quite a lot of time sort of figuring out who his cabinet should be filled by. So you know, it's important to understand that that Lincoln's mindset in the setting up the sort of beginning of his cabinet, was that he needed to bring together the sort of different different factions within the party, and bring together these sort of very oftentimes competing figures within the party to sort of create this huge sort of unity cabinet of sorts. So beginning because his his first choice in his cabinet, was going to be the position of Secretary of State, which was generally considered at the time, sort of the most important cabinet position. And so Lincoln chose his his chief rival during the 1860, Republican convention, Senator William Seward of New York, Seward had been sort of Lincoln's biggest obstacle to getting the nomination. And, you know, the two men didn't really have a great relationship, at least at the start. But it the pick does make sense. Seward was sort of the favorite son of this sort of northeastern establishment of the party. He had a lot of, of experience in in government. And also, I will say, at the time, it was sort of standard to fill the position of Secretary of State with somebody who was prominent in the party. Somebody who may be in their own right could be president. And so Lincoln chose Seward. Filling out the remainder of his cabinet, he actually picked quite a few people who had been seeking the presidential nomination. During the election cycle. As Secretary of Treasury, Lincoln would appoint a Salmon P Chase, who was a former Democrat, popular pull up politician from the state of Ohio. He also was sort of sort of seen as sort of an olive branch to sort of the more radically anti slavery figures within the party, but also he had a good he had a keen mind for for the economy and running the Treasury. So he was a good pick, even if he did squabble a bit with Lincoln. Additionally, Lincoln would select Edward Bates, who was sort of a conservative figure in the party, to be the attorney general. And also Bates was sort of a bit of an olive branch to the border states, considering he was from the state of Missouri. But within his cabinet, I think Lincoln's most controversial choice Was his nomination of Senator Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania as the Secretary of War. Cameron, I think it's safe to say was the most influential Pennsylvania Republican at the time. But he was also very, very deeply corrupt. And he was not well suited for the position of Secretary of War. In retrospect, some people sort of think that the reason Cameron was selected for the position of Secretary of War, is because Lincoln didn't think that the Secretary of War would be terribly important. And that's because he did not think that the secession crisis was going to lead to bloodshed. And I think quite a few people didn't actually think that threats of secession would actually trigger a war, which may sort of explain why Lincoln picked somebody who was really not a good fit at all for the role. But whatever his reasons may be, Cameron was at least Lincoln's first Secretary of War. So now, we move on to where we left off. In the last episode. With the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, of the Confederate States of America, captured Fort Sumter at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina. And in response, Lincoln would call to arms 75,000 volunteers to be raised in 90 days by state militias. And of course, the southern states that had not yet succeeded, were bitterly opposed to this right raising of militias, and would respond very harshly to Lincoln's order calling to volunteers to arm example, the governor of Arkansas, Henry Rector responded to Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers by saying, quote,

Henry Rector 6:53
the people of this Commonwealth are Freeman, not slaves, and will defend to the last extremity their honor lives and property against Northern mendacity, and usurpation.

President Shrimpo 7:06
which are some strong words to have from the governor of a state in which one in five white citizens owned enslaved people. And so following the lead of the other deep south southern states, the states of Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee would join the Confederacy. The only slave states that did not join the Confederacy are Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri. But that's not to say that there wasn't quite a bit of turmoil in those states as well. Among the the non Confederate slave states, the bulk of them made no effort to join the Confederacy. But all of them hoped to avoid the conflict, spilling over into their estates, and hopes to kind of stake out a neutral position in the conflicts, hoping to block federal forces from traveling through the states to put down the rebellion. Most notably, in the state of Maryland, which is surrounded Washington, DC, Lincoln would unilaterally declare martial law in the state and suspend the right of habeas corpus. This is, you know, this is something that Lincoln gets a lot of flack for, for suspending habeas corpus, which if you don't know habeas corpus is the right to a fair and speedy trial that is enshrined in our Constitution. And I will say, there's sort of some complexity to the issue. First of all, habeas corpus can be legally suspended. However, that power does not rest with the presidency, but with Congress. So first of all, Lincoln doing that was unconstitutional. That I will say, and there were lots of pro Confederates in Maryland that were arrested and not put on trial because of this. But also, I have to say that the situation was really very precarious at this point in time. First of all, there was massive anti army rioting that was going on in Baltimore at the start of the war, and the state legislature had voted to close off vital railways, which was really honestly, too big of a threat for a state that is surrounding the Capitol. And so it makes some sense, then that Lincoln would then use really be very forceful in ensuring that that state would remain in the union.

But that's not necessarily an excuse. Just just an explanation for why Lincoln would then ignore a court ruling against his suspension of habeas corpus. and why he would allow pro Confederate politicians to remain in prison. without trial, the state of Missouri another border state had a very, very dramatic standoff between the pro union state legislature and the pro Confederate governor, Claiborne Jackson. Now Jackson had posed himself as a Unionist Democrat in order to win election in the state. But when it came down to it, Jackson attempted to raise a militia to forcefully join Missouri to the Confederate States of America, despite the state legislature voting against secession. And when this failed, Jackson was forced to flee down south to the Confederacy hiding out in Arkansas. So, you know, this sort of raises a question of why were these sort of Upper South states, less pro secession. And essentially, the simple reason is that economically, these states were less reliant on slavery, a lot of these states didn't have the sort of soil that was suitable for plantation systems that that existed in the in the Deep South. And so economically, they were less reliant on the institution of slavery and so that it makes some sense, then that they would be less prone to going to do something so risky as as outright seceding from the union and risking Civil War. So of course, it makes some sense then that, you know, there was secessionist sentiment in the States, but it just wasn't quite strong enough to flip them over the edge into seceding and joining the Confederacy. So with the outbreak of an armed conflict, the Union Army and and the Lincoln administration set forth to destroy this southern rebellion. At the beginning of the war, military high command was entrusted with General Winfield Scott, Scott had served in every war since the War of 1812. And as the commanding general of the US Army since I believe 1841, I want to say, and Scott was an old man, at this point in time, he was quite elderly. He was not terribly mobile, but he was very well respected within the, you know, military structure. Because, you know, he, he had been one of the he had been the commanding general that had successfully captured Mexico City, for example, during the Mexican American War. And Scott proposed and favorite strategy at the outset of the Civil War, he preferred a sort of slow and steady strategy, hoping to sort of suffocate the Confederacy while minimizing direct combat and bloodshed with fellow Americans. And so after the capture of Fort Sumpter, Lincoln had issued a blockade of all southern ports. And so Scott really leaned heavily on this blockade, quote,

Winfield Scott 13:11
so as to envelop the insurgent states and bring them to terms with less bloodshed than by any other plan.

President Shrimpo 13:17
Now, the effectiveness of the strategy long term is still up for some debate. Some argue that it did little to damage the Confederates fighting power directly. But others hold that the blockade lead to long term southern resource scarcity and larger supply issues that would really harm their war effort, especially later on into the conflict. I generally kind of favor more of this view. But you know, it's it is up for debate. Another key thing that stemmed from this strategy then, was a bit of a diplomatic incident between the United States and foreign European powers. Now, France and the United Kingdom had declared neutrality in the conflict, which which really upset those in the union? Because they believe that it sort of was an implicit recognition that the rebellion was an actual conflict between two states as to call it I should say, countries really. And so the Confederates really hoped to win over diplomatic recognition for the Rebellion. And this sort of conflict really came to a head as a result of the blockade Oh, Southern ports, with something that is now known as the Trent affair. So on November 8 1861, the USS San Jacinto intercepted the British RMS Trent. Union officials on the San Jacinto seized two Confederate envoy He's onboard this British ship and took them as contraband. And this really caused a very, very ugly diplomatic rift between the United States and the United Kingdom. And there were some genuine worry that the British may intervene against the United States as a result of this is over as a result of this incident. Essentially, the United Kingdom held that seizing the men off of the trend, and intercepting the trend violated international law. And it really sparked a lot of very angry animosity towards the United States. With a lot of blame pointed at Secretary of State Seward, with one article in the British newspaper, the London Chronicle, saying, quote,

the London Chronicle 15:51
Mr. Seward is exerting himself to provoke quarrel with all Europe, and that spirit of senseless egotism which induces the Americans with their dwarf fleet and shapeless mass of incoherent squads, which they call an army to fancy themselves the equal of France by land and Great Britain by sea.

President Shrimpo 16:09
The crisis would eventually be averted and resolved by Americans, the American government asserting that the captain of the San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes had acted without orders. And additionally, asserting that this by seizing the envoys, the United States did not actually act outside of international law, they had every right to seize these these men as contraband. However, they agreed that doing so in open ocean was not acceptable, and that it would have been acceptable, had the trends been brought to port and then boarded. Which, you know, there was, there was still some disagreement over that. But it allowed both countries to save some face, and allowed both of them to kind of exit feeling that they had not necessarily been slighted. And one of the conditions was that the United States would release the two envoys that they had seized and allow them to travel on to Europe, and still make diplomatic overtures anyways, which I will say, failed. And the whole incident eventually left, solidifying British neutrality in the conflict. And so this has been a little bit talking about the war at sea. But we need to talk a little bit more about the war on land, which I don't want to go into talking about the intricacies of different battles and stuff, I just want to talk about sort of the broad strokes of the conflict just to kind of paint a picture. So, Lincoln, really had hoped to quickly capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. And under General Scott, engagement with Confederate land forces had been fairly limited. There had been several small engagements in western Virginia early on, and actually, the union was able to quickly occupy the sort of pro Unionist counties in the mountains of western Virginia. But with the bow with the First Battle of Bull Run, in July of 1861, the union saw really a very significant Confederate victory, where Union forces sustained nearly double the casualties that the Confederates had suffered. And with the Battle of the First Battle of Bull Run, the belief that this war could be relatively short and bloodless, was crushed almost instantly. So as a result of this very humiliating defeat at Bull Run, confidence in Scott's ability to serve as the commanding general was pretty severely shaken. But he remained in command because he was the person ultimately, that Lincoln knew he could trust the most at the time. But the ambitious Major General George B. McClellan, would be brought in to take command of the army of the Potomac. McClellan was an experienced organizer, he had had some experience in organizing the army of the Ohio

and really McClellan was had sort of made a bit of a name for himself in his service, in the few battles that he fought in western Virginia early in the war. And additionally, McClellan really clashed with Scotts strategy. McClellan favored direct conflict with Southern armies to quickly crush the rebels. He sort of, he took on a much more direct, confrontational style in how he discussed how he thought the war should be executed. And eventually the tension between Scott and McClellan became very personal, very, very heated, and eventually led to Scott's resignation is commanding general, and with McClellan appointed as as his replacement in the fall of 1861. I know I have to say almost immediately, general McClellan, and Lincoln clashed quite a lot. They really personally disliked one another, with McClellan going so far as to describe Lincoln as quote,

George B. McClellan 20:23
nothing more than a well meaning baboon.

President Shrimpo 20:27
So, that was just one of many very personal insults that McClellan made to the President that he was serving under, which I think kind of goes to show a little bit of his character. And despite the fact that McClellan had been pushing for a much more aggressive, confrontational style of strategy against Confederate forces in northern in Northern Virginia, he refused to move his army of the Potomac against them for months. And on top of that, McClellan refused to share details of his plans, with anybody, including the president. And in a meeting between Lincoln and his top generals, which of course, McClellan did not attend, Lincoln joked, quote,

Abraham Lincoln 21:15
If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.

President Shrimpo 21:20
So now, entering the beginning of F 1862. The war really did not have many union victories up to this point. And finally, Lincoln would dismiss Simon Cameron as Secretary of War. I have to say Cameron was so corrupt and incompetent, that he was believed to have hindered federal coordination of the war effort. Cameron was consistently taking bribes. And I believe he was even confronted with a list of members of the War Department that were suspected to have Confederate sympathies, and he did absolutely nothing about it. So Cameron would be replaced with a certain Edwin Stanton, Stanton had been one of Cameron's top advisors had been consistently giving the former Secretary of War, good advice that was being ignored. Stanton was a Democrat, but he was a war Democrat, he was deeply pro union. And his appointment, his appointment to the position of Secretary of War was much less of a political appointment. And way more one based on merit, and a belief that Stanton could actually handle the job. And so with all of that being said, I'm going to take a step back for just a moment to take a look at domestic policy under President Lincoln, because this is something that's not necessarily being ignored the war is the biggest objective and is the biggest focus of Lincoln at this time. But it's not the only focus. And so let's just take a look for just a moment at the beginning of Republican domestic policy after decades of democratic dominance. So first of all, as a warm measure, we see the institution of America's first federal income tax in 1861, which is a groundbreaking policy for generating federal revenue. But I have to say, everybody, even those who were in favor of instituting recognize instituting a tax recognized that a an income tax was really just a war measure for out of desperation, really, there would be a bit of, you know, fidgeting with with the numbers exactly of how tax rates would shake out. But this is just to say that, you know, we have our first income tax developed in 1861. Additionally, the moral tariffs would be passed, which significantly raised import tariffs counter to the previous democratic economic agenda, which had been to lower tariffs as low as possible. So that also allowed for a bit of revenue generation and also protected American industry which was struggling under the strains of war. But by February of 1862, the country's monetary situation was still looking quite bad. And as a result of this, Congress would pass the legal tender act of 1862 printing $150 million worth of quote greenbacks, which greenbacks were banknotes that were not backed by gold or silver. Essentially, greenbacks, were at the beginning of America's relationship with something known as fiat currency, which is essentially a monetary system in which American money is not backed by by gold or silver, but instead simply by the trust in America's government, and a trust in our banking system to actually make sure that money is one worth something, which is sort of a weird concept. And there had been sort of similar bank notes that were not backed by money that had been created that were not backed by gold or silver, I should say, that existed during the Revolutionary War. But this was the first time it was done on on such a massive scale, and slipping off of the gold standard for a bit to sort of create these money to to keep the country running. Additionally, under Lincoln, a homestead act would be finally passed, which essentially allowed millions of acres of federal land out west to become available for cheap, but only for white settlers. Essentially, the idea was that by selling off plots of land, the American frontier could be settled by these independent Yeoman farms, with these sort of small farmsteads as opposed to sort of the more entrenched plantation farming system, which had developed in the south. And so to some degree, there's a bit of sort of a sort of a noble goal and like, oh, sort of preventing the farming of other countries to be to be monopolized by these large, you know, plantation farms. But really, it encroached on the lands of Western Native Americans, and took land in which there were people populating it, and then just sold it to to these white settlers. And it really it as a result of this this Homestead Act, violence between white settlers, and the Native Americans of the Great Plains really became inevitable. And we see in later decades, this sort of conflict, come to a head. Additionally, under Lincoln, the Pacific Railway Act would be passed, beginning the construction of America's first transcontinental railroad, which was one of the key campaign promises of Lincoln, and was meant to connect to California, and the new states and territories of the West Coast and the Rockies, to the rest of the country through sort of this vital infrastructure initiative. Additionally, under Lincoln, America's Department of Agriculture would be created as a cabinet position, which was designed to aid the struggling farmers that were that were suffering under wartime conditions. And it really was also meant to sort of assist in rural development, and create a more concrete, federal agricultural policy. And actually, Lincoln would refer to to this new department as the people's department, which would have taps in a little bit to the sort of populist sentiment that was that the department was sort of rooted in. So by 1862, the union's war effort was still largely on the backfoot. Militarily, up, but there was some progress being made, especially as you reach into the summer, especially you see quite a bit of progress being made in the western theater. The Union army was essentially able to decisively capture the vast bulk of the state of Tennessee. And it was actually during this time that a certain General Ulysses S Grant would make a bit of a name for himself in the military hierarchy. Additionally, Union forces will be able to capture New Orleans on April 28, which in New Orleans, at the time, was the largest and most prosperous city in the Confederacy. And by capturing New Orleans, that meant that the union controlled either side of the Mississippi and would then be able to sort of strangle this this vital artery of Commerce for the Confederates. But despite the progress being made in the western theater, the Eastern theater of the war was far less decisive. McClellan had proved to be far too reserved, and his short lived peninsular campaign was very inconclusive, as was the Second Battle of Bull Run, as a result of the limited progress and McClellan's refusal to do us have a concrete strategy to in to defeat the Confederates in the state of Virginia. McClellan would be relieved of his duty as the commanding general of the Union Army, but he would remain as a field commander. He would then eventually be replaced as commanding general by a certain General Henry Halleck, who had served primarily in the western theater up to this point, and Lincoln hoped that Halleck would be a much better coordinator between the different union generals. But as a commanding general, he was an excellent bureaucrat and administrator, and organizer. But he was not that great of a field commander. In fact, his nickname is quite funny. His nickname was old brains, which I think was supposed to be a compliment and say he was smart. But it just kind of seems like a backhanded insult to call them old brains. But anyways, it's under these conditions then with there's sort of has been consistent stalemate between the Union and Confederate armies in Virginia, that the Commanding General of the Armies of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, would decide to take the offensive to the north, and Lee would attack his his idea was he would try to disrupt major railway lines by invading up through Maryland and into Pennsylvania. The goal I think, was to sort of try to cut off

rail access to Washington DC. But Lee's invasion northwards into Maryland, would be ended early by the Battle of Antietam on September 17, which the Battle of Antietam itself was a bit of an inconclusive battle. But under the command of General McClellan, they were able to sort of blunt and stop Lee's momentum and cut off the Confederate army before it could reach any further north. And as a result, General Lee was forced to turn back back south to Virginia. Now, jumping back in time, a little bit. In July of 1862, Lincoln had drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that slaves in rebelling states to be free and made free. But at the advice of Secretary of State Seward, he did not issue his emancipation proclamation until the union had a significant victory. After the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln said to his cabinet, quote,

Abraham Lincoln 32:21
I made a solemn vow before God, that of generally was driven back from Pennsylvania, I will crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves.

President Shrimpo 32:32
Now, I will say the Emancipation Proclamation is a bit misunderstood today. Essentially, its scope was actually fairly limited. And it This did not actually end slavery in full. The Emancipation Proclamation did not emancipate slaves in the border states, which had not left the union and allowed any states that were participating in the rebellion, to end their participation in the rebellion and rejoin the Union before January 1, of 1863. Under these conditions, any state that rejoined the union would be allowed to continue slavery, at least for the time being. And this actually did apply to the state of Tennessee, which had been almost entirely brought back under union rule. Additionally, the Emancipation Proclamation did not make slavery illegal by any means. But what it did do was it solidified foreign opinion on the war. And it sort of reasserted that what the union was fighting for, was, yes, the preservation of the Union, but was also fighting for the end of slavery. And that was very popular in the countries of Western Europe, like the United Kingdom, which had ended slavery decades earlier by this point. But this also sort of raises the question, if by declaring slaves emancipated, why did Lincoln wait for close to two years, to declare the war for the soul of the nation to not only be the preservation of the Union, but an end to America's most evil institution of chattel slavery. And ultimately, the explanation is quite straightforward. And that's to say that white supremacist ideology was pervasive not only in the south, but also in the north. And while abolitionism was growing in popularity among many Northerners, many others still did not want to fight and die in a war over ending slavery, an issue that didn't affect them and that they did not care about personally But also, Lincoln faced quite a bit of criticism from more devoted abolitionists who thought that Lincoln was not doing enough to stop slavery. And so he had to sort of walk a tightrope, balancing the interests of both abolitionist and anti abolitionist sentiment in the country. And so for very long, for quite a long time, Lincoln sort of held his tongue over the issue of slavery and did not act to end it. But entering 1862, his position began to sort of solidify a bit. And actually, Lincoln faced a harsh critique, in an editorial by the abolitionist editor, Horace Greeley, who argued that Lincoln was not doing enough to end slavery. And Lincoln would respond with an open letter, which has now become, I have to say, quite infamous, but I will explain it a bit more in context. But this open letter in late August of 1862, saying, quote,

Abraham Lincoln 36:04
If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them, if there would be those who would not save the Union, unless they could the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My Paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. And if I could save it was by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. And if I could save it, by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that, what I do about slavery and the code race, I do, because I believe that helps save the Union. And what I forbear I forbear because I do not believe it would help save the Union. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty. And I intend no modification of my oft expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

President Shrimpo 36:56
Quite a few people who are critical of Lincoln say that this is proof that Lincoln didn't actually care about ending slavery. But that's sort of a bit of a historical inaccuracy. Because only a few in Lincoln's cabinet knew that by this time, he had already written the Emancipation Proclamation, a full month earlier, Lincoln truly wanted to end slavery. But he was also a realist. And he knew that he could only do so under the right popular sentiment and the right conditions that would allow ending slavery, something that would be very politically difficult to do, and needed to be done correctly. And so he bided his time, even when it was unpopular. And actually, I want to make a bit of talk about a quick tangent about somebody who is not super important for understanding the big events of the Civil War. But somebody who I think, is actually a really excellent example of how this war was really transformative for a lot of people in transforming sentiments for the entire country to be more radically abolitionist in their positions. And this man is a certain General Benjamin Butler. Now, Butler, for the majority of his life had been a Democrat from the state of Massachusetts. But more than just being a Democrat. He was a dough face, he was a southern aligned to Democrat, and ideologically, he was certainly a populist. But like many others, he just didn't care about the distant issue of slavery. That was not something that was directly impacting him or his constituents. So he just kind of ignored it, like so many people did at the time. And actually, Butler was more than willing and happy to work with Southern Democrats and the southern politicians at this time to preserve slavery as an institution. In fact, Butler had voted for Jefferson Davis, at the 1860s Democratic Convention to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. And additionally, Butler had supported the southern Democratic ticket, even being the southern Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts. Butler. This is all just to say Butler was a dough face among dough faces. But also what there was bitterly opposed to the idea of secession. Butler had truly had a lot of faith in the southern politicians like Jefferson Davis, like John C Breckinridge and believed that their intent and their heart was in the right place. And that secession was simply a threat as a political tool and that nobody truly wanted to secede. But when Butler went to Washington, sort of in an effort to try to work to avert the secession crisis, he quickly came to realize that these men that he had worked with and that he had respected, were not trustworthy, and that they had he had been lied to, and that they actually truly wanted to secede from the Union, over the issue of slavery. And butter was able to sort of reconcile this sort of this dissonance in his his political beliefs, by later saying himself, quote,

Benjamin Butler 40:40
I was always a friend of southern rights, but an enemy of southern wrongs.

President Shrimpo 40:45
And so hoping to crush secession. Butler, quickly joined a state militia, and would get a political appointment to the level of general Butler really wanted to prove that despite the fact that he was a doe face, and that he had held southern sympathies as a politician. Above all, he was a patriot, and he was willing to fight for his country. And at this time, his his opinion towards the secessionists, really very hardened. And it was actually under Butler's command. That the anti army rioting that was going on in Baltimore that I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, would be put down, he was the man in charge of suppressing that Riot. So that really kind of set his expectations going into the war, serving in Virginia, Butler was finally forced to face slavery in reality. Up to this point, slavery had sort of just been this sort of esoteric idea that he had heard talked about, but he didn't really care about what it was serving in Virginia, that he saw escaped slaves, he saw the conditions that they were struggling under. And it really sort of shifted a lot of his opinions. And up to this point, military policy had been to return escaped slaves to their masters. But this is something that Butler refused to do. Commanding Fortman ro Butler refused to return escaped slaves. Instead, Butler would keep them as contraband explaining his rationale by saying, quote,

Benjamin Butler 42:31
I am under no constitutional obligations to a foreign country, which Virginia claims to be

President Shrimpo 42:37
under Butler, the escaped slaves would be put to work, and they would aid in the construction and fortification of the fort, while also being paid a small salary. And at first, there was a bit of disapproval within the military high command. But the Lincoln administration would approve of this stance. And as a result, from that point forward, quite a few generals would then sees escaped slaves as wartime contraband, and that would then become the basis for what is known as the Confiscation Act of 1862, which then in turn, would become the basis for the the legal basis, I should say, of the Emancipation Proclamation. Later on, Butler would very notably become the military governor of the city of New Orleans. And during this time, he became known for how little he tolerated pro Confederate resistance, and actually had a quite brutal reign over the city and would be dubbed the beast Butler, by those who are opposed to his efforts. Now, of course, Butler is not a person who is without controversy. He I will say, as a politician, tended to be a bit corrupt. He had quite a few faults and blind spots, as any person in this time period would prone be prone to be. But this is just to say that Butler is an excellent example of how many others in the north who may have began as neutral on slavery, if not even the supportive of southern interests over slavery would come to witness it as an institution in person through their service in the Civil War. And as they fought secessionists, they, they began to have less and less sympathy. And as a result, true experience in the war abolitionism became more popular and as a result, the Emancipation Proclamation came at a time in which it could exist and not be political suicide. I'm which I think I think it's something that needs to be said. Looking now, towards the end of 1862, we have the election of 1862, with the midterms. And up to this point, it's fair to say that the war effort has been fairly mixed. There had been some progress made on the by the Union, but just not a ton. And I also have to say, anti war sentiment in the North was very real. And those who were opposed to the war became dubbed copperheads. Additionally, the economy was not doing great under these wartime conditions. And so there was a very genuine worry that Republicans would lose control of Congress, which would undermine Lincoln and the board's legitimacy. And so as results rolled in, in the House of Representatives, Republicans would lose 25 seats, and their majority, Democrats would gain 28 seats. But no party held a majority. Republicans were just short of a majority by six seats, and they would form a coalition with the Unionist Party. The Unionists were former wigs and war Democrats who were not necessarily as radical in some of their sentiments as Republicans were. But they had more in common with the congressional Republicans. But also, there's very little change in the Senate. And actually, Republicans were able to gain a single seat during this election cycle. All of this is just to say that while Republicans were still the most popular party in the country, voters were quite unhappy with the progress that was being made in the war. And if Lincoln wanted to have any hope, for re election in 1864, serious progress would need to be made. And this is going to be where we're leaving off for this week's episode. And we're going to continue this two part series on the American Civil War in about a month, when when I am able to record part two, so I'm terribly sorry to leave you on a cliffhanger. I will say spoilers. The Union wins the war. But we'll get into a little bit more detail on that next time. So I have been your host President Shrimpo, and you've been listening to in the west wing political history podcast brought to you by WKNC 88.1. Special thanks to those who helped give history a voice in this week's episode of In the West Wing, with Katie Quesinberry as Henry Rector, Elsie Howard as Winfield Scott. Caitlin Carroll as the London Chronicle. Sarah Hernando as George B. McClellan. Jaden Abrams as Abraham Lincoln and Adrian Lopez as Benjamin Butler. The intro music used on in the West Wing Star Spangled Banner for the United States Marine Band, and our Outro Song is Libertad by Iriarte and Pesoa.

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