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Civil War Senate

The U.S. Senate played a crucial role in the Civil War. Although the history of the war is often told from the perspective of President Abraham Lincoln and his military commanders, the Senate faced war-related issues before Lincoln took office, and continued to influence national events throughout the war and the era of Reconstruction. To learn about the Senate in relation to the Civil War follow the links below or visit the Civil War Sesquicentennial homepage.



        Capitol Construction During the War Years
        Readmitting States to Representation in Congress
        Landmark Legislation: The Pacific Railway Act of 1862
        Lincoln Cataflaque
        An Extraordinary Recess
        Henry Wilson Prepares for War
        Election of Virginia's First Civil War Senators

    Featured Debates

            Vinnie Ream, July 27, 1866
            Featured Senate Debate: May 1864, Defining Quorum

    Featured Documents

            January 10, 1862: Charles Sumner's speech on the Trent Affair
            The Revenue Act of 1861
            Civil War Era Petitions
            March 25, 1861: Senate calls for Dispatches of Major Anderson, Commander at Fort Sumter
            April 15, 1861: President Lincoln Calls Congress into Emergency Session
            April 20, 1861: Letter from Senator John Sherman to Ohio Governor William Dennison
            April 25, 1861: Senator Stephen Douglas Speaks Before the Illinois Legislature
            July 11, 1861: Senate Expels Ten Southern Members
            June 19, 1911: The "Old Soldier's Roll of the Senate"
            Isaac Bassett's Senate Memoir
            April 16, 1862: DC Compensated Emancipation Act
            The Pacific Railway Act of 1862
            July 13, 1861

    Historical Minutes

            Jefferson Davis' Farewell
            Hannibal Hamlin Takes Vice Presidential Oath
            Soldiers Occupy the Senate Chamber
            A Dramatic Session
            Ten Senators Expelled
            Senator Killed in Battle
            Friendship or Treason
            Creating A New Senate
            Senator Resigns to Protest Loyalty Oath

Powers & Procedures


            Joint Committee on the Conduct of War


            The Civil War Senate Reacts to Secession: Declares Seats Vacant and Expels Disloyal Members

Civil War Era Senators & Staff

            Featured Biographies of Civil War Era Senators
            Civil War Veterans in the Senate
            Philip Reid and the Statue of Freedom
            Clara Barton and Senator Henry Wilson