As a new year begins, the 112th Congress reconvenes for a second session of legislative activity. Representatives and senators from across the country are again descending upon the Capitol, ready to commence debates, proceedings, and hearings. This is how the legislative branch of the Federal Government always functions, right? Well, not always.
On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, the 36th Congress consisted of 66 senators and 234 representatives. There was a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and every state in the Union was effectively represented.
But once South Carolina issued its ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, a surge of southern legislators began withdrawing and retiring from Congress.
By the time the 37th Congress convened in March of 1861, six states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—had already joined South Carolina and left the Union. This prompted Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina to follow.
When the torrent of secession finally concluded, vacancies existed in both chambers of Congress. The mass exodus of southern Democrats, coupled with the commencement of Union-Confederate hostilities, shrank the Federal legislature to 50 senators and 180 representatives by the beginning of 1863.
Southern secession transformed Congress in many ways. The dozens of unfilled vacancies in the Senate and the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Gregory Marose on January 6, 2012, under - Civil War, News and Events, Rare Photos, Unusual documents.
Tags: 112th Congress, 1860, 36th Congress, Adam Goodheart, Alabama, Arkansas, civil war, Confederate, federal government, Florida, Georgia, kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, missouri, North Carolina, secession, South Carolina, Tennessee, texas, Union
The USS Monitor was the Navy’s first ironclad vessel, but it was not the only one in Civil War waters.
The Virginia had started life in 1855 as the Merrimack, a Union ship that had been burned to the waterline, sunk, and abandoned in the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, VA. The Confederates raised what remained of the ship and used the hull to build the ironclad Viriginia.
On March 8, 1862, Virginia made its first combat sortie, as the ship headed through Hampton Roads and fired on the Union frigates Cumberland and Congress in an attempt to break the Union blockade at Hampton Roads. According to this New York Times article, the Virginia looked like “a submerged house” with “nothing protruding above the water but a flagstaff flying the rebel flag, and a short smokestack”
But when the Cumberland fired on the Virginia, the Confederate ship proved to be far tougher than an underwater home: “the latter opened on her with heavy guns, but the balls struck and glanced off, having no more effect than peas from a pop-gun.” The Virginia rammed the wooden frigate, which was no match for the ironclad boat, and also took out the Congress. Another Union ship was run aground.
The next morning, March 9, the Monitor arrived. The two ironclads fired on each other … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 9, 2011, under - Civil War.
Tags: blockade, Confederate, Congress, Cumberland, frigate, Gosport Navy Yard, Hampton Roads, Merrimac, Monitor, New York Times, Norfolk, Union